A beautiful place to live
We all want to live someplace beautiful. A place where green things grow and we relax, play, and maybe even entertain. But how can we find that place, even when we are limited by our homes, our climates, and our lifestyles? With a dizzying number of landscaping and garden styles, it can be tough to figure out which one suits you best and how to bring it home.
Never fear! Plants and Petals is here with a simple and easy tour through some common landscaping style via some of the world’s most beautiful examples.
A tour of landscaping styles
There are currently several different types of landscape styles—too many to list here. Some have been around for a long time (hundreds of years!), and some are much newer to the scene. Let’s see if any of these descriptions capture the perfect picture of your dream garden:
French Garden: One of the most formal landscape styles is the French garden. If you have ever seen the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, then you have seen the master blueprint for the French garden. Carefully and mathematically planned, these gardens represent order, and the human ability to create order out of the chaos of nature. These gardens are meant to be viewed from above, like from a raised terrace. They tend to feature trees planted in straight lines, elaborate topiaries, and pools or fountains in symmetrical and controlled shapes.
English and Cottage Gardens: When many people think of a traditional English garden landscaping style, they may envision the sweeping gardens with lakes from movies like Pride and Prejudice. This style can be very formal and grand, with graveled paths between shrubbery, tree plantations, and flower beds on the borders. The style can also take a step back from the very formal and take on the cottage garden feel, especially for smaller homes. The cottage garden is more functional, containing plants for looking at and plants for eating. The plants are denser in this style, and flowers are for filling in the spaces between the vegetables. One of the most famous of the English garden style can be found at Kew Gardens, in London.
Modern: Like the very formal, French style, the modern landscaping style is characterized by symmetry and clean lines. It involves plenty of concrete and planters, and usually just one or two types of plants. The idea is simplicity and easy maintenance. Think of a swanky nightclub rooftop garden, and you’ve got the right idea. The Bridle Road Residence in Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most stunning examples you will see of this style.
Desert Gardens: Often also referred to as xeriscaping, this style is typically found in places where water is scarce and the landscape is stark. It can still be a green, colorful sanctuary—especially if you like succulents and wildflowers. You can still have trees, but they look best (and do better) if they are native to your area. Stealing ideas from desert botanical gardens like the one in Tucson, Arizona can be a great starting point.
Japanese: This type of garden provides the perfect place to meditate and contemplate nature, and is, in fact, its original purpose. The idea in a Japanese garden is balance, rather than symmetry. Using rocks, water features, plants, and ornaments like rock lanterns and rain chains, this type of landscape is soft, rounded, and textured. The Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon is a gorgeous representation of this style.
Mediterranean: Typically borrowing from Italy and Spain, Mediterranean landscapes invoke warm coastal living. Terra cotta flower pots and tiered fountains feature in this style, and an herb garden is a must. These gardens can be formal, invoking Rome, complete with bocce ball courts, and they can be very informal, reminiscent of the Greek seaside, sipping wine under the cypress trees. Dreaming of Spain? How about a visit to the famous Jardí Botànic in Barcelona?
Tropical: Imagine snoozing on a hammock tied between two palm trees amid bright colors and lots of green—this landscaping style is definitely for outdoor living. The tropical style usually features a pool and a shaded area, usually with a thatched roof. There are several recommended plants and trees for this style, but just in case your climate won’t support them, go for trees and shrubs with broad, green leaves and brightly colored flowers. If you are ever in Hawaii, you can’t miss the National Tropical Botanical Gardens to drink your fill of this style (a tiki drink, of course!).
Eco-Friendly: Sustainable, low-maintenance, and drought-tolerant are the key words for the growing popularity of eco-friendly landscaping. Using permeable materials to save water as well as using recycled or repurposed materials are key, as is using the sun and shade available to maximize results. Besides doing your part to preserve the resources of our planet, an eco-friendly garden can lend itself to just about any of the above styles, as long as you work with native plants and trees. And since the plants and trees in eco-friendly gardens depend on their location, there are a lot of great examples of these. However, one of the more interesting ones is in China at the Shanghai Houtan Park, where they have reclaimed a defunct industrial area and cleaned up a river once thought to be “terminally polluted.”
Cramping your style?
Hopefully this brief tour has given you some ideas about the landscaping styles that speak to your heart. Now, let’s talk about how to make the style you love work with what you’ve got. Traditionally, experts will tell you to work with within a certain set of parameters, but that doesn’t mean you have to be locked into a style that doesn’t speak to you. It doesn’t even mean you have to choose just one style.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of taking on a landscaping project. Keep in mind, however, there is plenty of wiggle room. Consider these typical questions:
- What type of home do you have? Usually the more formal your home, the more formal your landscaping can be, and vice-versa. Although people often like juxtaposition. There is nothing wrong with pulling in the elements of a French garden in the backyard of your patio home or rustic cabin.
- What type of climate do you have? The more rainfall you have, the more lush your garden can be. If you live very far north or very far south, however, you may have to forego some plants that you love if they just won’t grow in your area. And yet, the people at your local greenhouse will probably be able to suggest similar plants that will give you every bit as much joy.
- What type of budget do you have? You may have plenty to spend on loads of high-quality trees, plants, and decorations. You may even be able to hire a landscape designer or architect. Or you may need to design and build your garden yourself, a little at a time, while buying the best you can afford. Practice patience and enjoy what you do have. You can even make a small purchase your focal point until you are able to add more.
- What kind of time do you have? If you work a lot or have a big family to care for, you may not have as much time to devote to your landscaping as you would like. On the other hand, working in your garden and watching it begin to flourish can be a very rewarding and contemplative act.
A little of this, a little of that
The best thing about designing the exterior of whatever living space you have is that you get to decide how to work with what you’ve got and how to work around what you’ve got. You can find your perfect landscaping style even if it’s a mini-version of your favorite style on a small apartment balcony. And you don’t have to choose just one style!
Be sure to let Plants and Petals help you find the right resources for your landscaping projects. We would be delighted to connect you with the people in your area who can help.