Three Formal Garden Designs for Three Different Spaces

Don't know where to start with your formal garden? Here, we share three designs, two suited for small spaces. Use them for inspiration, or replicate them closely - we won't tell where you found the designs.

From: DK Books - Garden Design

Although formal design follows specific rules, there is, as these three gardens show, plenty of scipe for interpretation. In the first two examples, formal lines are combined with classical details to very different effect in a small courtyard and a large lawn. The third example shows what formal design can bring to a narrow walking garden.

Classic Lines

Simple design works well in this small space (image 1): the beds are filled with just a few species. The urn and privet hedge topiary add height and a sense of scale to the design, while the hydrangea provides an elegant focus to the central line.

International garden designer Rowe says:

"My design for this front garden in London had to fit in with the regulations of the local conservation area. I used Yorkstone and bricks to match similar detailing on the house façade and evergreen screening for privacy, but kept the overall design simple and understated."

"It was interesting to retain a sense of precision in such a classical format. I think of hard materials as the bone structure of the garden, which the planting can soften and enhance."

Mopheads (image 2), Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (image 3), Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) (image 4)

Statement Piece

This garden uses color and strict lines to make an eye-catching checkerboard (image 1).

Edmond, who manages this garden on the south-east coast of England, says:

"This garden is one of a pair — the other, the Striped Garden, is on the other side of the main walkway. This one was designed to be looked at from the terrace above, and the pattern of lawn and bedding reads well from this position. We use annual bedding to add color; usually pansies and polyanthus in winter, and begonia and verbena in summer. The changing view within the garden is its most majestic feature. Maintenance is difficult, but the graphic impact makes it worthwhile."

Common yew (image 2), Veined verbena (image 3), Wax begonias (image 4)

Below Ground

This basement garden is meant to be viewed from above (image 1). The minimal planting is architectural, to complement the property's classical focal points, such as the door frame at the end of the plot.

Formal design expert Carter says:

"This is typical of my work — especially in smaller spaces, where I think simplicity and order help give a sense of spaciousness. The garden was quite shaded, which led to the use of water to add sparkle and movement. The design was influenced by the work of the 18th-century architect James Gibbs — this is reflected in the door frame on the boundary wall. After dark, lighting creates the effect of an additional room."

White hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen coum subsp. coum f. albissimum) (image 2), Pewter Dome hebe (image 3), Blue fescue (image 4)

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