If you’re looking for a way to give your yard a makeover that will really make it stand out and wow your visitors, a formal garden style might be just what the doctor ordered. What is it and how can you create your own? Here is a short guide to get you started with this unique and luxurious landscape design.
What Are Formal Gardens?
When most people think of formal gardens, they think of grand European estates with long gravel walkways, hedge mazes and delicately-manicured trees. These formal gardens draw visitors from around the world, but you can apply those same concepts to create your own formal look in even the smallest space.
Formal gardens tend to feature a few basic design concepts. These include geometrical designs, clean lines, symmetry, careful pruning, less variety and good pathways. While most formal gardens feature classical yard art, modern touches can update this ancient look and keep it fun.
Formal landscape requires good planning. Start by sketching out the basic parameters of your yard to include the permanent elements, such as trees or outbuildings. Find a geographical center for your yard, especially as seen from the house as you look out (or down) at the yard from various vantage points. Formal gardens love to use a center line as a base upon which to build symmetry.
Look for ways to add that symmetry in your layout, such as with boxwood, holly, or evergreen hedges forming a mirrored design outward from the center. You could go with simple geometric shapes, such as squares or circles, or you could opt for a more complex shape of your own making. It just depends on how much effort you want to put into it.
Other ways to create visual symmetry include planting trees that mirror each other and adding hardscape elements that are similar. Make sure the mirror image sides are of equal visual weight, with bulky or tall objects complemented on both sides.
Formal style calls for a limit to the variety of colors and plant species, but you can create variety within these parameters. White flowers, for example, come in a variety of shapes and sizes from delicate heliotrope to hanging wisteria to bold hydrangea. Even within plant types like roses, there can be great variety. Determine your limited theme and then have fun developing it.
Finally, you will want a way for visitors to move through the garden. It should encourage wandering throughout by including wide and inviting pathways. Crushed rock or pea gravel is a classic pathway material, but you can use other hardscape materials, such as natural stone or brick. Design walkways that lead the visitor around the garden with designated “destinations” or stops where they can stop and admire individual features.
Adding the Special Details
The details are what make the formal garden the most fun, so don’t forget them. One classic formal landscape accent is a sculpture—often a classical Roman or Italianate sculpture of a figure, animal or urn—or a water feature.
Neat trees—especially when planted in a row—are a good way to add height or form a backdrop. Or you can encourage everyone to linger in the garden by adding benches, parlor table sets and shady pergolas in hidden locations throughout the yard.
If you want to include formal elements in a new or existing yard and can’t quite figure out how to design it within your particular space, call the landscape experts at Estate Landscape today. With 24 years of experience working with the climate and terrain of Nevada, they can help you find a great look that will thrill you all year long.