While most landscape gardening designers might recommend that you create a landscape suited to your own personality and preferences and not focus on a style, many people get ideas and inspiration from established styles and flavours of gardens. Sometimes it’s fun to pick a style that you like best, and recreate it with traditional plants and hardscape materials that suit the look appropriately. There are many, many types and styles of gardens. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular and widely used garden styles to get you started.
Cottage style gardens are informal, meaning that they do not have defined spaces, straight lines, confined plants or a lot of space between plants. Plants are also typically not pruned and are allowed to grow and mingle freely with each other. Plants that spread and reseed themselves are encouraged. When designing a cottage garden, use winding paths and choose plants that flower freely. Use old-time favourites such as hollyhocks, roses, iris, peonies, columbine, foxgloves, sweet pea, and other favourites your grandparents may have once enjoyed. Aim for romantic fragrances too.
Country garden style is much like cottage style. Some boundaries with hardscape materials make their way into country gardens however. Rock bed edging, typical white picket fencing, and bright, cheerful flower selections define a country garden. Country gardens also typically showcase buildings that have been refurbished with old materials, brought back new by lots of elbow grease and love. Often, local materials for edges and fencing make appearances in country gardens. Stone lined beds are made from glacial rock tilled up in the fields. Roughly hand hewn wooden fencing marks barriers more than it keeps the kids in the yard, made by recycling downed tree limbs too small and narrow for the woodshed store.
Japanese gardens are more formal and contained than country and cottage gardens but aren’t as contained as other styles. They rely on sight-obscuring fencing from the outside world, marked with a single entrance gate. You can mimic this with a fence and arbor. Winding paths keep opening up to new perspectives that have to be viewed as you move along, not all at the same time. Simple, natural elements and well-pruned foliage adds some formality. Accenting with colour in foliage is pretty typical of the Japanese garden. Stem and bark form and texture add interest instead of focusing on blooming plants. Moss is an essential element and should be encouraged. Reflections, shadow and other overseen visual elements are highly considered in Japanese gardens.
Formal gardens are marked by carefully planned out lines of sight, all settling on a focus point. Statues, front entrances, landscape views, fountains, pools, sitting areas, arbors, and even extraordinary plant specimens all make focal points. Arranging the garden to send the eye to the focal point all while using geometric lines and straight paths are typical of formal gardens and are essential. Carefully pruned hedges, shrubs on standards, and evergreens make the plant backbones of formal gardens. Contained, straight lines of bright colour also make appearances in fun formal gardens.
Finally, Modern, contemporay gardens rely on materials that are clean, contained, uncluttered, and fresh. Lines are normally straight. Plant selections are considered to be texturally interesting, usually in contrast to the clean lines of the hardscape materials. Grasses make good contemporary examples of plant materials. Water features are also commonly found in contemporary gardens, and are used as focal points.
These are quick overviews of typical garden styles. We hope this helps you define your particular tastes.