8 Design Ideas for a Formal Garden – Garden Design Tips

Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Garden Collection, Jonathan Buckley

If you want to recreate a formal garden design, there are a number of things to consider, including ornamental touches, scale, landscaping, and planting. A French garden exudes decadence and exudes an air of well-kept finesse.

Adding large eye-catching adornments like a classic urn or mirror, and choosing the right blanket to create a sense of privacy, helps transform a garden into a formal outdoor space perfect for hosting, lounging and having afternoon tea. midday.

Here are eight garden design ideas to help you create a formal garden style at home.

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1. Ornament

formal garden design ideas

Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Jason Ingram

The conventional route favors classical urns, a Lutyens bench and statuary. Or you can go for something a little different: giant carved stone fruit or a wire-frame animal sculpture will give your garden instant personality. Exterior mirrors are also in fashion. Look for interesting architectural features in salvage yards, such as a sundial, birdbath, or armillary globe. One or two large objects will look more effective than half a dozen smaller ones.

Here are some suggestions:

  • 20 stylish garden mirrors
  • 14 solar fountains for your garden

    2. Design

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | living4media, Cox, Stuart

    A useful tip for making a small garden appear longer is to reduce the width of the central path as it recedes. Playing with the ladder is an important element in a French garden: even in a small plot, it is better to avoid the Lilliputian planting as it can often seem too difficult. If there isn’t enough room for everything you want to incorporate, scale down your ideas or design it as if it’s a fragment of a larger garden. The formal planting gives a sculptural quality and provides a framework for softer seasonal patterns.

    3. Trees

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Jason ingram

    When trees are incorporated into a formal garden, they must be carefully chosen. Ideally, they should be compact even when ripe, look great all year round, and be easy to control when mowing. Apple crab, quince (Cydonia not Chaenomeles) and hawthorn all suit and have the added appeal of flower and fruit, while the foliage of the silver pear contrasts beautifully with the dark evergreen yew. By lifting the tops (removing lower branches) of existing trees, their dominant effect may be
    reduced so that there is a more open appearance with improved light.

    4. Hurdles

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | GAP Photos / Lee Avison

    Unless your formal garden is contained within walls, hedges can be used to fulfill this role, giving the impression of enclosure and separation. The formal effect tends to be diluted if the garden is open to its surroundings as the eye is easily distracted by the color and views. Hedges also create a backdrop against which the topiary can be framed. Yew is the traditional choice for hedging because its dense evergreen foliage provides the strongest living boundaries. However, the introduction of some varieties of hardwood, for example beech or hornbeam, will lighten the borders and make the whole look less gloomy.

    5. Hard landscaping

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Garden Exhibitions, Andrea Jones | Garden Collection, Nicola Stocken Tomkins

    Consistency in the use of materials will help to marry different elements, such as paving, planters, pots, seats and plant supports. Terracotta and brick blend together wonderfully, as do stone and oak (which fades to silvery gray). Remove any orange-brown wood stain with a color, such as Willow from the Garden Shades range by Cuprinol.

    6. Frame

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Garden Collection, Jonathan Buckley

    French-style gardens make it possible to differentiate the “domestic” from the “wild”. Thus, the paths are straight, the hedges are trimmed, the trees are trimmed and order reigns. In general, plants are limited in color and variety and there is consistency in hard landscaping materials. If that sounds a bit boring, introducing ornamental flourishes can be an invigorating departure from any restraint.

    7. Topiary

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Clive Nichols Garden Pictures

    It can be as simple as half a dozen boxed balls in matching pots in a cobblestone yard, or something much larger where sculpted shapes are laid out along the paths or in a boxed flower bed (pictured) . The topiary gives a garden a three-dimensional quality. Scale matters: If you think of the garden as a chessboard and the topiary as rooms, the larger the chessboard, the larger the pieces should be. A larger topiary can be expensive, so buy small and use wire or willow frames to outline the shapes until it ripens.

    8. Water characteristics

    formal garden design ideas

    Glorious Gardens, by Country Living | Jason ingram

    Water can be used to introduce life and movement. This is particularly effective when a fountain or waterspout is incorporated into the design. Running water or splashing water also masks intrusive background noises. Keep in mind, however, that moving water has an energizing effect, and if you want something more tranquil, plain water may be preferable. A wide ledge surrounding the pool will provide informal seating without cluttering the garden with furniture. Take inspiration from the ancient Persian gardens: with their quietly flowing streams and their still reflecting pools, they perfectly embody the qualities that water can bring to a French garden.

    Here are some suggestions:

    11 ways to bring water to your garden


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