Incorporating Mediterranean Style Back Home

If your mind's still on vacation but your body's back home, consider incorporating Mediterranean style into your garden. Any outdoor space can reflect the Mediterranean vibe, from large, sheltered plots to colorful, decorative courtyards.

From: DK Books - Garden Design

Mediterranean Style in Detail

The popularity of the Mediterranean as a vacation destination created a thirst for gardens that reflect it. The mild winters and warm, dry summers favor specific groups of plants, often hardy and low-growing, with olive trees, vines, lavendar, various hedges and many succulents combining to produce a distinctive look. These plants are designed to look natural, against a background of textured hardscapes.

Pathways are often not defined by formal paving. Instead, gravel is used across the entire space, serving as both hard landscaping and a mulch for planted areas. This unifies the garden, allowing plants to be grouped informally and leaving smaller areas of paving to provide more stable surfaces for seating.

Pergolas or arbors are used for shade, and when planted with vines and other climbers provide the perfect location for un-rushed, outdoor dining. Alternatively, trees give dappled shade, either in groves or as individual specimens in key locations.

Water is used to create sound or as a focal point, but, as a precious resource in these landscapes, it would not normally be seen in the form of large pools; instead, it accents the design in decorative fountains and channels.


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Spanish Garden With Fountain

Elegant Water Feature on Outdoor Mediterranean Patio

Tuscan-Style Garden With Urn


Katrina Fairchild

Terraced Water Garden

Photo By: Photo Courtesy: Betty Lou Phillips © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Garden With Mediterranean Fountain

Striking View at Dusk

Photo By: Drew Sivgals

Accessible Mediterrean Style Garden

Photo By: Mary Palmer Dargan ©Gibbs Smith, Lifelong Landscape Design, Mary Palmer Dargan

Colorful Garden With Olive Trees

Pathway in Secret Garden

Photo By: Drew Sivgals

Stone Entrance With Xeriscaped Mediterranean Garden


Katrina Fairchild

Key Design Elements

In these sun-drenched gardens, shade is key, and can be provided by trees planted as individuals or in groups. Wood pergolas and arbors with climbers also provide a shady setting for outdoor dining (image 1).

Limestone forms the typical gravel of the Mediterranean, creating a light, textured surface through which plants can grow (image 2). Larger boulders and other elements can be used as focal points. Landscape fabric below suppresses weeds.

Water is often confined to channels in more formal Mediterranean gardens, and used to refresh the air or to mark spatial divisions (image 3). In gravel gardens, overflowing containers or water bowls are used for reflections and gentle sound.

Other Ideas

Many species have adapted to drought with fine, silver, or fleshy foliage. Rosemary and lavender are typical, with Euphorbia, Agave (image 1), Yucca, Bergenia and Genista providing suitable associations.

The Mediterranean is famous for the terra-cotta pots used in gardens, as focal points or as planted containers (image 2). Old olive oil pots make sculptural features. Aim for larger- sized pots where possible.

Floor surfaces in courtyards or on roof terraces are created from tiny, colored mosaic tiles laid out in intricate patterns (image 3). Glazed and brightly colored tiles are also often used to decorate walls and grottoes.

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