Formal garden design: 8 ideas for gardens of all sizes

Formal garden design: 8 concepts for gardens of all sizes

10 minutes, 33 seconds Read

Formal garden design can swimsuit conventional and modern outside areas, backyards massive or small, and from city garden to nation retreat. 

Whereas formal gardens is available in all styles and sizes, there are particular key options  it is best to embrace as a part of your garden concepts when planning your elegant outside area. 

There are methods to strategy the format and design when deciding how you can plan a garden of this type. Right here specialists supply their recommendation on the necessities to get you began.

Formal garden design – components to incorporate

evergreens and repeated planting in formal garden design

(Picture credit score: Tina James )

‘The format of a proper garden design must be approached mindfully and take inspiration from the native vernacular, the side and website circumstances and, after all, what’s the desired impact and the upkeep ranges most popular,’ advises Tina James, head of garden design at Preston Bissett Nurseries (opens in new tab)

Though they’re typically very managed of their design, a proper garden design nonetheless must fulfil your wants – the aim of the garden shouldn’t be misplaced. 

‘Pathways nonetheless should be large sufficient; seating areas will nonetheless should be designed with proportions that really feel comfy; and the sense of place of the garden is to be inspired. The gardens themselves could have a powerful sense of id, however they nonetheless must mirror the locality and sense of uniqueness of the home, by the sympathetic use of planting, supplies or references to the broader panorama,’ explains garden designer Eliza Grey (opens in new tab).

1. Incorporate symmetry

symmetry with box hedging around water feature in a formal garden design

(Picture credit score: Eliza Grey Gardens)

‘Incorporating symmetry into the design, drawing off the traces of the property, is a key place to begin for making a extra formal garden area. We often begin by working off the important thing axes of the encompassing structure,’ explains John Wyer CEO of Bowles & Wyer (opens in new tab)

‘Creating a way of journey by these clear routes helps to outline a rhythm that’s so essential in formal garden design,’ provides Eliza Grey. 

The sample used has to suit comfortably throughout the area out there. ‘Take a look at scale and proportion. I sketch out a format and illustrate my designs to actually see the way it will look,’ advises Jo Alderson.

Symmetry is very essential for entrance garden concepts, however as with all garden designs, it’s important to take the lead from the home, its structure and the garden’s wider environment. ‘This may assist to create a way of concord and stream between the house and garden. A proper garden is often laid out with a transparent construction and powerful total geometry. There’s typically symmetry to the format, however not at all times – an asymmetrical design can add fascinating dynamics – however the primary design precept to goal for is one in every of stability,’ says James Scott.

A robust architectural type was favoured for Arts and Crafts garden design so you could possibly look to that period for inspiration.

Nevertheless, whereas a symmetrical format for a proper garden design works effectively, typically the garden just isn’t symmetrical. On this case ‘intelligent use of geometric lawns, patio concepts and garden paths assist to instil the specified sense of order and ritual,’ provides Eliza.

2. Body with topiary and evergreens

topiary shapes and evergreen hedges in a formal garden design

(Picture credit score: The Backyard Firm)

The muse for a proper garden design ‘might be offered by structural vegetation, comparable to quick rising hedges, evergreen shrubs and neat timber, which have a powerful architectural presence. Good hedging selections embrace yew, beech and hornbeam,’ Says James Scott, principal designer of The Backyard Firm (opens in new tab).

‘The architectural qualities of vegetation can be utilized to border a proper garden design,  comparable to clipped evergreen topiary of yew cubes, beech beehives, hornbeam hedges or pleached timber to create higher cohesion and lengthen the realm of ritual over a wider space,’ agrees garden designer Matthew Wilson (opens in new tab).

Because of the problems with field blight, think about alternate options to buxus for topiary shapes and  hedging.  ‘I typically use Ilex crenata, osmanthus or rosemary. I’ve additionally used Lonicera nitida, though this requires extra common clipping,’ explains designer Jo Alderson.

‘Topiary shapes used at junctions or within the centre of a design add a classical look and curiosity in top adjustments,’ Jo provides. 

‘Evergreen hedges are extra formal than deciduous, particularly clipped yew or holly. Laurel could be inappropriate for a proper garden because the leaves are so massive is will get shaggy shortly,’ agrees designer Rebecca Smith (opens in new tab).

3. Plant a parterre

evergreen shrubs used to create parterres

(Picture credit score: Leigh Clapp)

A parterre garden is a traditional ingredient of a proper garden design. There are a lot of locations you possibly can search for inspiration when you’re questioning how you can design a parterre garden.

‘Sturdy, easy repeated shapes and patterns are important for a traditional parterre garden,’ explains Jo Alderson. 

An though related to conventional schemes, parterres might be given a up to date edge.

contemporary parterre garden with mixed planting in a formal garden design

(Picture credit score: Anna Helps Backyard Design)

On this extra modern design above by garden designer Anna Helps (opens in new tab), planting contains topiary within the type of Prunus lusitanica and Euonymus japonicus half requirements, together with pleached Carpinus betulus. 

‘Prunus lusitanica evergreen hedging is used to create divisions throughout the area and as a backdrop to softer planting. Pittosporum tenuifolium has been used rather than buxus to offer a extra modern possibility and provides a spread of sorts and leaf coloration to tie the planting collectively. Geraniums, alchemillas, and crocosmias present softer planting, whereas hydrangeas, grasses and hemerocallis present extra construction,’ explains Anna.

4. Mix formal with looser planting

evergreen domes and standard trees mixed with looser planting in simple palette and statue

(Picture credit score: Richard Miers Backyard Design/ Picture Martin Pope)

Formality typically works finest with one thing casual to push towards.  ‘Permitting a wildflower garden to set seed and develop in entrance of a clipped yew hedge creates an exquisite and timeless mixture. Looser naturalistic planting on the edges helps the transition from the formal area to much less formal garden past,’ says Matthew Wilson.

Within the formal garden design above by Richard Miers (opens in new tab) for Chelsea Flower Present 2022, evergreen domes and clipped timber are interplanted with in style cottage garden plant selections in a easy and restrained palette.

‘A proper garden’s planting scheme could also be easy nevertheless it doesn’t should be sterile.  The truth is, there’s a nice alternative so as to add vegetation for pollinators together with the wildlife-friendly hedges and shrubs as wildlife garden concepts.  A garden can change into a bit of performing artwork when it attracts birds, bees and butterflies,’ says James Scott.

‘The borders might be full of vegetation that can soften the ‘rectilinear’ impact. I incorporate as many pollinator-friendly late summer season flowers into my schemes as doable. My favorite prime pollinators are salvias, lavender and verbenas. Not solely do I benefit from the punch of coloration they supply from September till November, I additionally love seeing the range of pollinators they appeal to and help,’ James provides.  

5. Select lengthy flowering blooms

long flowering hydrangea used in a formal garden

(Picture credit score: Anna Helps Backyard Design)

Embody long-flowering vegetation that want little care and lots of get pleasure from being helpful to pollinators and wildlife. 

‘As soon as a powerful inexperienced framework has been established, looser planting might be added to increase the textural and ephemeral content material which contrasts with the formality,’ agrees James Scott.

For infill planting, comparable to in parterres, ‘use perennials with lengthy flowering seasons, such Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, Alchemilla mollis, Geranium rozanne or shrubs, comparable to Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle. Keep away from utilizing vegetation which have a brief season of curiosity or that flower solely briefly with no repetition,’ says Tina James

Go for low upkeep border concepts in the case of planting as yr spherical curiosity is important for optimum enjoyment of a proper garden design.

6. Hold coloration schemes easy

simple color palette used in a formal garden

(Picture credit score: Richard Miers Backyard Design)

If you find yourself planning a garden coloration scheme in your formal garden design, ‘cohesive and easy coloration schemes higher swimsuit a proper type as they’ve a soothing impact. Formal gardens needn’t be massive, however typically are, and huge swathes of simplicity create a grander impact with mass planting being simpler to care for,’ explains Tina James. 

Utilizing a restricted coloration palette in a proper garden could be very efficient, comparable to within the design above by Richard Miers. ‘Whites, blues and pale purples mix seamlessly and create a soothing impact. Jarring colours have a tendency not for use in additional formal planting schemes, and variegated leaves are used sparingly,’ says Rebecca Smith

Inexperienced, in all its shades, is commonly the spine of formal designs, and white garden concepts completely swimsuit this type. ‘Nevertheless, coloration in all its glory might be discovered inside a proper garden – it’s extra about restraint in its total utilization somewhat than the precise coloration palette chosen,’ explains designer Anna Helps

Repeating colours and vegetation throughout the garden provides a way of cohesion and provides to the formality.

‘The great thing about formal garden design is that the planting actually is determined by your private style. Historically, the planting colours are often muted pastels. Nevertheless, you could possibly even have a proper garden stuffed with brilliant pink roses. We are likely to hold the palette as easy and restrained as doable,’ says John Wyer of Bowles & Wyer.

7. Select complementary laborious landscaping 

gravel garden among formal beds of lavender in walled garden

(Picture credit score: Tina James)

Supplies used for yard landscaping in a proper design should be fastidiously thought of so that there’s a component of continuity from the home to the garden.

‘Every materials must be fastidiously chosen to be sympathetic to the interval of the home and its structure. For older properties, a neighborhood brickworks or quarry might be able to present matching supplies, or a minimum of merchandise which might be vernacular. A way of concord will also be achieved with homes which have undergone modernisation – you may use a few of the similar flooring tiling for a patio adjoining a current kitchen extension. As a broad design precept, attempt to keep away from having greater than three completely different laborious floor supplies underfoot,’ explains James Scott.

Selections could vary from bricks used for edging or for pathways, porcelain patio steps, pure riven stone paving slabs, compacted gravel for pathways, and crunchy shingle in courtyard garden areas. 

‘One trick that we regularly use is to take very conventional supplies, comparable to brick, York stone, metal and timber, after which use them in a up to date means, or a minimum of with simplicity and restraint. This helps to maintain a way of ritual, however provides a extra fashionable contact to the aesthetic,’ says John Wyer.

‘Whereas pure stone and brick paths could sometimes be related to a proper garden, a much more assorted palette of laborious landscaping might be utilised to present a contemporary really feel to a proper scheme. A proper garden doesn’t have to end in a standard design,’ provides Anna Helps

8. Embody focal options

parterre garden with statue surrounded by lavender and standard trees in a design by Helen Taylor

(Picture credit score: Helen Taylor Backyard Design)

A proper garden design is prone to embrace focal factors, comparable to a water function concept, garden fountain, a sundial or yard artwork framed by planting, as on this garden design by Helen Taylor Backyard Design (opens in new tab)

‘Planting schemes in formal gardens typically body such focal factors, and body views throughout the garden or out to the broader countryside the place doable. Elegant benches or garden seats might be set into the planting with an excellent viewpoint throughout the decorative area,’ says James Scott.

What’s a proper type of garden?

A proper type of garden has an emphasis on stability, symmetry, repetition of planting, good construction, and powerful traces. These might be geometric or curved within the design, comparable to with parterres, however must be clear and effectively outlined. Key options embrace topiary, an evergreen spine, sculpture and focal factors. Assertion function vegetation also can contribute to the architectural presence of a home.

repetition of planting, good construction, and powerful traces. These might be geometric or curved within the design however must be clear and effectively outlined. 

‘The format ought to tie again to the home and be capable of be learn simply from throughout the constructing, particularly from the upstairs home windows,’ says designer Rebecca Smith.

What vegetation are utilized in a proper garden?

Evergreen vegetation for the construction are important, as is yr spherical curiosity. Topiary shapes add a classical look, whereas seasonal infill vegetation are sometimes chosen for his or her lengthy flowering properties. The colour palette is stored easy and restrained.


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