When creating, changing or making additions to your landscape, it’s best to have a clearly defined style in mind. Choosing a gardening style will help you pick plants that complement each other as well as your home. You don’t have to adhere strictly to a single style, but keeping one in mind will help direct your gardening.
Choosing a style
There are a number of landscape styles that homeowners and gardeners can choose. They range from structured and formal to nearly wild. Each has its own beauty so there is not “wrong” choice. However, each also has its own challenges so it’s best to choose wisely when first planning a garden so you don’t end up removing valuable plants later.
Consider the architecture of your home and neighborhood before choosing a style. You should also keep your climate zone in mind. For example, a formal rose garden will be very hard to grow in a desert climate.
Formal style. A formal garden is structured and orderly. It is typically symmetrical and based on geometrical shapes and right angles. Plantings are neatly pruned and walls or paths are often used to define the space.
This style is elegant and traditional. It works well with Georgian style homes and other symmetrical architecture styles. Formal garden rely on traditional plants like roses and clipped privet hedges for color and structure.
This style requires a good deal of upkeep. Pruning and tidying will be frequent tasks.
Informal style. Informal style uses curved lines and gives a more relaxed feeling than a formal garden. Softer mass plantings create a more naturalistic setting but this style still conforms somewhat to a plan.
Informal gardens complement a wide variety of current architectural trends. They more relaxed nature of this style allows asymmetry to balance transitional style homes. It still requires upkeep, though less than a formal garden.
Cottage or English Garden style. A cottage garden is loose and free flowing. It has its roots in the formal English style, but is lacking in the structure and rigid lines that characterize formal gardening. This style often incorporates culinary herbs to be used in cooking.
Cottage gardens are low maintenance and colorful. However, they can easily go from whimsical to downright messy. Cottage plants are often perennial or annuals that reseed themselves so the garden takes less care. This style works well with cottage-style homes and beach houses but will look a bit odd if paired with a more formal home.
Asian style. Minimal in appearance but highly planned, Asian-style gardens seek to replicate all of nature in a small, controlled space. They typically incorporate all the elements of nature including plants, trees, stones and water elements.
This style can look bare to the Western eye but there is beauty in the simplicity. Elements are in balance but not symmetrical. It may not complement Western architecture as well as some other styles but it is often very easy to maintain.
Eco style. Also called xeriscaping, this style is designed to make use of available resources without taxing the natural environment. Use of drought-tolerant plants is common as well as native grasses.
Extremely easy to maintain, this style has a natural look. Some of the plants common to xeriscaping might be prickly and unwise for small children, like cacti and saw toothed grasses. However, this style needs no supplemental watering and almost no maintenance after planting. It is ideal for desert climates and coastal areas.
No matter what style you choose, make sure it works with your climate and native soils. While there is a lot that can be done to amend and alter the soil, you will always be fighting Mother Nature. Few gardeners win against this formidable foe.