Elegance Expressed: Designing a Formal Garden

If you like classical architecture and symmetrical, geometric design, a formal garden may be for you. Here, we introduce you to key features of formal gardens to consider integrating into your design.

Font
  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends

x

All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.

Refresh

Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail

Success!

A link to %this page% was e-mailed

Formal Geometric Garden DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Originally designed as expressions of man's dominance over nature, the features and natural elements in formal gardens are found in their geometry and structure. This idea is rooted in classical architecture and design; many of the best examples of this type of garden can be seen in France and Italy.

A successful formal garden has a balanced design, achieved through symmetry and a clearly recognizable ground plan or pattern. Organized around a central axis or pathway, formal plans often focus on a key view through the garden from the house. In larger gardens there may be space for several routes that cross the central path, and sometimes radiate out into the wider landscape. Sculpture, water or decorative paving may be used to punctuate the areas where these routes intersect.

The geometry of the formal garden is clear and easily identifiable, but must be scaled and balanced appropriately. Although this type of garden typically relies on right angles, other regular symmetrical shape - circles, ovals, ellipses and equilateral triangles - can be used. The materials palette tends to be kept to a minimum, with gravel and regular paving stones most frequently seen. However, decorative elements, such as cobblestone mosaics or brick designs, are also popular. Water is employed either as a reflective surface or in jets and fountains.

Hedges of varying heights are key planting features: waist-high hedging help to define space or views, while dwarf hedging can be used to edge lawns or borders, create tidy beds or form knot gardens. Trees may be "pleached," or trained and trimmed to form high hedging, to help to add height. Where space allows, avenues of trees can line paths to accentuate vistas and draw the eye to a focal point in the distance.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

We Recommend...

Three Formal Garden Designs for Three Different Spaces

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...

Designing a Garden With Foliage

Designing a Garden With Foliage

A beautifully designed bed can highlight an area of the garden even when nothing is in bloom.

(8 photos)
Calling All Kids: A Garden Design Fit for a Family

Calling All Kids: A Garden Design Fit for a Family

If the phrase "family garden" conjures up images of hardy turf and a bulky swingset, think again. Here, we give you...

Advertisement

HGTV Outdoors Newsletter

Find out how to make the most of patios, decks and all your outdoor areas, plus tips from master gardeners for beautiful flower beds and bountiful vegetable gardens.