Different Types Garden Design

formal garden design

Different Types Garden Design

Spending time in nature is a proven way to reduce stress. And we could all use some stress reduction, especially after the year we’ve all had. A thoughtfully designed garden is a great way to make the most out of any yard space you may have. Take a look at some different types of garden design to help inspire your own outdoor masterpiece!

Meditation Gardens

Meditation gardens are Asian in origin, going back centuries with their roots in Zen Buddhism. With a very minimal aesthetic, these gardens were created to connect with nature, and oneself in a spiritual manner, in addition to being physically beautiful. Simplicity is key when designing a meditation garden.

Common elements include:

  • A winding path, made of stone, pavers or gravel, to symbolize one’s spiritual journey
  • A water feature to add to the overall feeling of calm and relaxation
  • A focal point, whether that is a statue, bench or special tree to encourage mindfulness
  • Minimalistic plants – no showy flowers but rather moss, grass, and small, well-tended shrubs

meditation garden design


Sometimes referred to as desert gardens, xeriscaping the process of designing landscapes to reduce the need for irrigation. Popular in the arid climate of the American west, the harmony of a xeriscaped garden means little or no water is needed beyond what nature provides. Given that we get plenty of rainfall in our humid climate down here in the lowcountry, xeriscaping here will look a lot different from the rock and cacti gardens out west. It’s still an excellent idea to plan your landscape with the natural climate in mind, for easy maintenance.

xeriscaping garden design

Formal Garden

As the name implies, formal gardens are all about following rules of symmetry and balance. They were originally conceived as a testament to man’s dominion over nature. By keeping flowers and bushes in precise order and trimming trees and shrubs into geometric shapes, it was the gardener’s way of asserting their will over the seeming chaos of natural growth.

Geometry is a key component in formal garden design. Flora is planted in neat lines and rows. Squares and diamond patterns are made with shrubs. Often trees or fountains are centerpieces in these precisely laid out patterns. A tidy formal garden can be very pleasing to the eye but they are among the most intricate gardens to maintain.

formal garden design

Mediterranean Garden

Quite the opposite of a formal garden, a Mediterranean garden is rustic and informal. This type of garden design is characterized by lush foliage that conveys a sense of summer year round. Similar to xeriscaping in the sense that this garden is design with hardy, drought resistant plants, the difference is that a Mediterranean garden is all about vibrant color and casual elegance, made for dining alfresco and lingering over cocktails and conversations.

You can create your own Mediterranean inspired garden by incorporating relaxed, informal spaces into your landscape design. Scents and varying texture are important when choosing plants, and adding provincial details such as weathered structures or worn stone pavers help make the space feel as if it has always been there.

mediterranean garden design

Cottage Garden

The main characteristic of a cottage garden, is that they don’t look designed at all. Cottage gardens came about during the 18th century in England as a direct revolt against the formal, architectural gardens popularized previously. It coincided with the rise of Romanticism, which reinvigorated an appreciation of nature in its natural form. They were also much easier for the growing middle class to maintain, as they required much less maintenance.

Cottage gardens are full of whimsy and delight. They usually have an abundance of colorful flowers and flowering shrubs, planted in an unrestrained fashion. Structural elements can include covered arbors, wooden fences for flowering vines, and weathered statues. Meandering paths that end at benches, bird houses and glass orbs can all be incorporated into your cottage garden design.

cottage garden design


A potager, or French kitchen garden, is all about the edible. Herbs, fruits and veggies are planted close to the house for easy access from the kitchen so you have fresh foods and flavors right as your fingertips. This type of garden combines utility with beauty, creating a wonderful space to grow your own food naturally.

Kitchen gardens are usually planted in tidy rows, for room to weed and harvest, and often incorporate raised beds, or sectioned areas for easier organization. Mix in pots with more aggressive plants that will spread out quickly if left unchecked. Vertical attributes are included too- beans crawling up a trellis or tomato cages- so you can easily have a decent potager even if you don’t have a lot of space to work with.

potager garden design

As you can see, there are an abundance of garden design styles to choose from for inspiration. Now that spring is under way, it’s an excellent time to start thinking about improving your landscaping so you can make the most out of the enjoyment spending time in nature can bring.

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