Garden Design Styles
Discover the diversity of garden design styles—and find the perfect one to express your passions and personality.
Let your creativity loose in your yard by exploring and experimenting with different garden design ideas. Whether you favor the flowery abandon of a cottage garden design, the neatly clipped boxwood hedges typical of English garden design or the relaxing austerity of a Zen rock garden, you can craft an outdoor space that bears your signature.
Clean up the yard and create mulch at the same time with this $199 15-amp chipper. Branches and twigs become moisture-conserving mulch in minutes and the bag detaches so you can spread the love immediately.
Take a Seat
Gardening is hard work, but take time to relax in your outdoor spaces with a cafe table and chairs. Scour consignment shops and garden centers for stylish yet affordable tables. If you already have the table and chairs, update them with new seat covers and roll out a new outdoor rug underneath.
Select a Statement Piece
A full landscape do-over is difficult with $500, but you can invest in a signature item for your yard. Think handcrafted and unusual, such as the birdhouses and planters made by River Root Gardens, a Texas company. Jeanette Lara-Lewis uses roots from trees in Latin America for her creations. The birdhouse retails for $300-$325.
You can start working on your garden, by building or buying raised beds. These from Gardener's Supply Company range from $178-$239. Also take a portion of your budget for fresh mulch or pine straw.
Think Life and Light
Having a $500 or less budget won't enable you to makeover your entire yard, so experts suggest bringing in a collection of ceramic pots and adding accessories that fit your style. This trio of torches, along with potted plants, can turn a boring concrete patio into a more interesting space.
Conserve Your Water
Use part of your $500 budget to invest in key pieces with future impact, like a rain barrel. With so many rain barrels on the market, you can invest in one that fits the style of your garden or adds architectural details. The Savannah Rain Saver by Good Ideas retails for less than $200.
Look for garden design ideas everywhere you go. You can even spot great gardens running errands. Take pictures if possible, and if you see a gardener hard at work, stop to chat. Most homeowners appreciate hearing kind words about their garden efforts, and you’ll probably glean garden design ideas in the course of conversation.
Also take advantage of local garden tours. By visiting many gardens over the course of a day, you’ll be able to compare and assimilate a plethora of garden designs. Some garden design ideas spring from an effort to solve a landscape problem, and garden tours provide an excellent opportunity to unearth beautifully clever solutions to common landscape issues.
Public gardens provide another great place to learn about garden design. Many gardens offer educational programs that help you hone your garden design skills. If you’re focusing on a specific garden type, such as Japanese gardens or a water garden design, research local gardens, organizations or landscape businesses that specialize in these areas to expand your knowledge base.
Back Yard Garden Dog Run
When Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. in Atlanta was hired to design a garden for a client with a St. Bernard, she had a realization. The dog was more than a pet, he was a family member and she tailored the space to suit his needs as well. “I felt that a dog that large could not be denied, so I designed all walks and trails through the wooded and hilly backyard following the dog's favorite routes, placing people-friendly destinations along the way,” says Cain. “I put a bench here, hammock there and patio deeper in the woods as a destination and gathering spot around a fire pit tucked in a cozy sanctuary.” We’ve rounded up a few pet runs that second Cain’s emotion. Dog runs can be attractive, safe and fanciful. This dog run was created by FormLA with their client’s Lhasa Apso "Beloved” in mind.
Given the dangers lurking in many gardens, not to mention severe drought, some dog owners are choosing synthetic grass, like XGrass Pet Grass. It can be a low maintenance solution that drains and dries quickly. This solution allows pet owners to easily wash away animal waste, providing a hygienic area for their dogs to rest and play.
Pet-Friendly Grass in Miami
The community of Coconut Grove, a neighborhood in Miami hired XGrass to revitalize Blanche Park and create a large, clean space for dogs to run and play. The XGrass Pet Grass surface allows the park to stay clean and prevents animals from digging up areas or playing in muddy puddles.
Welsh Corgis Dog Run
This dog run in Atlanta was designed by Danna Cain, ASLA and built by Home & Garden Design, Inc. with the safety and comfort of two Welsh Corgis in mind. Previously, snakes liked hiding in the tall mondo grass, and the short-legged pups had difficulty navigating it. It was replaced with a shorter version as well as attractive mazus in between stepping-stones that make up the run. Fragrant plants were used to mask odors, and a bench was installed to create a relaxing area for the owner to sit while her dogs play.
Dog Run Alley Way
The alley of this Atlanta home linked the rear patio to the front courtyard and was enclosed on one side by the house and the other side by a brick wall. A gate to keep the dogs contained separated the front courtyard. This layout created a perfect area for a dog run, but the owner also wanted it to be attractive. That is where landscape architect Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. came in. Cain created a space that is not only functional but also easy on the eyes.
Back Yard Dog Maze
Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, is an environmental horticulturist and designs optimally sustainable gardens with pets and kids in mind. Her dog-design considerations move beyond plant materials and consider the breed and habits of the specific pet. This dog maze was created by FormLA with the Kingsburys’ Lhasa Apso in mind. “Beloved” enjoys running the permeable trails while her people enjoy the roses and the circulating fountain. The decomposed granite trail stays cool under paw and solved a flooding problem.
Pet Safe Dog Run
Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping advises that dog owners evaluate hardscape options. “Asphalt is hot and harsh on paws. Synthetic lawns hold heat as well. Gravel can get lodged between large dog paw pads, and small dogs may choke on it,” said Aoyagi. “Decomposed granite stays cool and is not a chewing hazard.” The Kingsbury family wanted a garden that not only gave them a place for meditation and reflection, but also a place that their four-legged family member Beloved would feel at home, too. FormLA designed a dog maze that is low maintenance, attractive and safe.
Slate Nugget Dog Path
Creating a run for Bailey, a Golden Retriever in Atlanta, proved a natural transition. The large dog had already worn a favorite route in her owner’s backyard so designer Danna Cain of Home & Garden Design, Inc. laid medium slate nugget gravel on the established paths. Not only is it easy on dog and people feet, but also it doesn't get stuck in paws.
Relaxing Environment for Dogs
While there is not too much running around for Bailey who is a little long in the tooth, he loves hanging out watching the birds, butterflies and chipmunks with whom he shares his fountain and shade. His owners are thrilled that he no longer tracks dirt back into the house and that he is happy.
Modern Dog House
When pressed to find stylish and suitable housing for his own dogs, Francisco Loren, a Decatur, Georgia-based architect, decided to build his own. The result was so well received that Loren hung out a shingle under the name of Meset Shop and began taking custom orders. Materials that make up the surrounding runs are carefully considered in an effort to complement the home’s design. Pet-friendly rocks surround this modern doghouse.
One Dog One Bone
This backyard has really gone to the dogs, in a good way. A pool by One Dog One Bone was installed on the patio that functions as a dog run to provide these best friends a respite from the heat. The durable pools are constructed from the same material used to line truck beds. It stays cooler than other pools and has a UV inhibitor. Your dog will be cool and look cool.
Beautiful Synthetic Grass
Sunburst Landscaping of Arizona relies on synthetic EasyTurf for their clients in the Southwest where there are serious water shortages and drought. There is also no need for potentially harmful pesticides or dangerous weed killers. And if you’re greening your home, installation earns LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points.
Pet Spaces for Confined Areas
Even if your home is short on outdoor space you can still design an attractive space for your pet. This condo patio designed by Sunburst Landscaping features synthetic EasyTurf and succulents and other drought-resistant plants meaning there is very little need for water. EasyTurf is even endorsed by pet trainer Caesar Milan.
This run was designed by Southern California landscapers FormLA and is made up of carex pansa, a species of sedge. Visually, a carex pansa lawn is not that distinguishable from a traditional lawn. It is an IdealMow lawn alternative, which needs no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Additionally, this grass will not need constant mowing and it requires 70 percent less water to stay alive. It is hearty enough for large dogs to give it a run for its money.
Barkitecture is a doghouse-centric design competition that began in 2005 to raise funds for Austin’s pet rescues. The event was conceptualized by Animal Lovers of Austin, Inc. and brings together some of the city’s best architects who compete for categories such as Best in Show, Best Backyard Bungalow, Greenest Design and the People’s Choice Award. Attendees can then bid on the designs for their furry best friends and the money goes to help dogs in need. Win/win.
Cool Granite Dog Run
The owners of this Santa Monica home and their pet enjoy the fruits of FormLA’s labors – literally. Not only is this garden edible, but it is also friendly to creatures with any number of legs. The fragrant citrus trees provide shade for pets and treats for humans. Growing in the raised bed is chard and Sequoia strawberries. The decomposed granite run stays cool under pup’s feet.
Orange Tree Dog Run
We like how this dog run’s Lilac Verbena creates contrast against the butter yellow color of this Santa Monica beach bungalow and guesthouse. The orange tree provides both shade and nourishment. The scents and the juxtaposition of all these garden elements offer a sense of tranquility for visitors as well as a pleasant place for furry friends to roam.
Another place to dig into garden designs in at your local library. Check out books and dvds on garden design. Study the great gardens of Europe if you want to create a formal garden or French garden design in your yard. You’ll find a wealth of material on butterfly gardens, and it’s vital to research this area to ensure you’re filling your garden with plants for both adults and caterpillars.
If your region has been experiencing drought, brush up on the principles of xeriscape design. These low water-use landscapes can be breathtakingly beautiful, and if your city is starting to charge for stormwater runoff, xeriscape designs might also help waive those fees. On the other end of water use, you might want to consider developing a tropical garden design to surround a spa area or pool. Tropical plants thrive on abundant water, and their colorful leaves and flowers make every yard staycation-worthy.
Shady yards frequently stymie their owners who long for colorful plantings besides impatiens. If that’s you, dig into shade garden designs to learn techniques to brighten low light areas, such as planting white- and silver-variegated foliage or using light-toned gravel or pavers for paths.
Many gardeners long for lush perennial borders typical of English garden design. It’s not tough to master the methods behind these beautiful borders, but you will need to do some homework to ensure you select the best plants for your region. You could even combine principles of xeriscape design with perennials to create a low water-use landscape that’s low-maintenance, too.
Above all, as you discover and study garden design ideas, don’t forget that you are allowed to break the rules. That’s one way you can express your signature style. Even the great designers did that at times—and if they could get away it, you can, too.