Types of Gardens

Visualize your dream garden and draw up a realistic plan before you head for the garden center.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Family Gardens

Most family gardens are multipurpose; they must satisfy a variety of different demands. Children need play areas—close to the house if they are young and you need to keep an eye on them, but farther away if they are older and don’t want to be watched all the time. Grown-ups need areas to relax and unwind, if possible separated or screened from the hurly-burly of family life.

Small Gardens

All small gardens present a challenge: how do you prevent them from feeling claustrophobic and create the illusion that they’re larger than they really are? There are a number of tricks. Glass doors that open on to a deck or patio will link indoors and outdoors, increasing the sense of space in both. Uncluttered planting feels airy and spacious. And a cleverly positioned sculpture, container, or water feature can create a focal point that draws the eye in.

Large Gardens

A large garden is exciting. With plenty of space to play with, the possibilities are almost limitless. The best approach may be to think about compartmentalizing the space and creating mini-gardens-within-a-garden. Designate different areas for relaxing and entertaining, for laying out a kitchen garden, planting a few fruit trees, or installing a pond. And employ hedges or screens to form discrete garden rooms, perhaps with doorways or arches to lend a sense of secrecy or surprise.

Cottage Gardens

Most cottage gardens are small, almost by definition, and tend not to be highly structured, since geometric beds, formal hedging, and large areas of lawn or paving all take up a lot of valuable space. Traditionally, cottage gardeners would have worked their plots hard—to produce as large a harvest of flowers, vegetables, fruit, and herbs as possible. The overall effect is therefore one of profusion, with plants crowding one another and jostling for space.

Wildflower Gardens

The most successful meadow gardens look completely natural, almost as if the countryside has spilled into the garden of its own accord. In fact, it takes planning and some maintenance to get the mix of grasses, wildflowers, and cultivated species just right and stop the site from degenerating into a mass of unwanted weeds. In large borders, perennials and ornamental grasses planted in drifts can create a wonderful, soft, naturalistic, meadowlike effect.

Woodland Gardens

Damp and shade are the predominant characteristics of most woodland gardens. While this rules out plants that need heat and light, there are still plenty of options for creating a wonderful, lush garden. Large-leaved foliage plants that like moisture will do best—hellebores, hostas, ferns, and rhododendrons, for example. Plenty of native woodland plants will flower profusely in spring before the leaf canopy of the trees begins to reduce the light.

Water Gardens

Water introduces a number of fresh elements into any garden. Pools create reflections and, depending on the weather and time of day, can play tricks with the changing light. Streams or rills bring movement, and waterfalls or fountains add relaxing sound. In addition, a pond or a bog garden creates a special environment for the kind of plants you might struggle to grow elsewhere. And, of course, most water features are a magnet for wildlife. A courtyard water garden provides a calm, contemplative space in which to relax.

Wildlife Gardens

Wildlife visitors not only make a garden more interesting, most are also positively beneficial. Bees are, of course, vital for pollination. The frogs and toads that a pond attracts devour slugs; ladybugs and hoverfly larvae eat aphids, and many birds feast on snails. To attract wildlife, choose plants whose fruits, seeds, and nectar provide food for small mammals, birds, and insects; hedges in which birds can shelter, and shrubs such as hebes, buddleja, lavender, and rosemary for butterflies and bees.

Formal Gardens

Formal gardens appeal to our sense of order, and much of the pleasure we take from them comes from our love of structure and symmetry. Layouts are usually based on clean lines, shapes such as squares, rectangles and circles, and regular, repeating patterns. The garden’s underlying structure is often clearly evident, underlined by hard landscaping, structured planting, lines of pleached trees, clipped hedges, and meticulously maintained, manicured flowerbeds and borders.

Contemporary Gardens

Modern garden design is transforming not just the way our gardens look but the way we use and enjoy them, too. While the conventional yard, with its lawn and tended flowerbeds, is still with us, today you’re as likely to see modern gardens that employ decking, paving, and glass to blur the distinction between inside and outside, and ones where modern materials such as concrete, metal, fiberglass, and plastic, often in bold colors, may be as striking as the plants.

Next Up

Types of HVAC Systems

Split systems, mini-splits, furnaces and boilers are just a few of the choices for your home.

Light Bulbs: Know the Different Types

Fluorescent, incandescent, halogen and tungsten — learn where each bulb works best.

Common Types of Mold in Homes

Mold comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Learn how to identify the type of mold in your home and develop a plan of attack for treating it.

Types of Lighting Fixtures

Whether you choose a valance or pendant, there's a fixture for every need in your home

Types of Grow Lights for Indoor Plants

Try these bright ideas for growing plants indoors.

5 Types of Neighbors and How to Handle Them

You can pick your friends, but not your family -- or your neighbors. Here’s what you need to know.