Which One of These 10 Garden Styles Is Your Favorite?

Express your style outdoors with your landscaping just as you would indoors with furnishings and materials

The interior style of your home reflects your character and taste, and choosing the right look is something you probably devote a lot of time to. When it comes to the garden, a lot of thought is usually given to external materials and structures, but how much consideration do you give to your planting style?

Inspiration can come from the surrounding landscape or the desire to create a particular look for your garden, and also your preferred decorating style — do you favor a minimalist, modern interior, or are you a fan of bold color and pattern? Here are some tips for extending your personal style choices out into the garden.

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Romantic. If your chosen style is soft and vintage-inspired, consider something like the garden seen here. The pale pink roses and blowsy blue catmint, combined with other delicate perennials, create a wistful, romantic style that feels old-fashioned and nostalgic. Choose old roses that are richly scented, and edge your paths with aromatic foliage, such as lavender or catmint, which will release their perfume when you brush against them.

Formal. A very formal garden can be the ideal style choice for a traditional home and the space it defines, particularly if the space is symmetrical. Low-clipped hedging can create myriad interesting patterns on the ground.

Manicured and controlled, this style of garden looks good all year round, with small seasonal variations in the background planting. The seasons can also be celebrated with pots full of spring bulbs or summer annuals.

Breezy. Ornamental grasses are infinite in their subtle textures, colors and outlines. They work well when set against clean, modern lines and are generally low-maintenance too, making them an ideal choice in many urban gardens. Their wonderfully translucent flower heads catch low morning or evening light, and this, coupled with their ability to move in the slightest breeze, adds life and welcome movement to any outdoor space.

Natural. Planting styles, like any other style, can fall in and out of fashion. One of the strongest and most fashionable movements in planting right now is perennials combined with ornamental grasses, planted in large swaths akin to a meadow. Inspired by the flowers of natural prairies, it is a look full of movement, light and color. Good perennials to combine with grasses include Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, knautias, alliums, poppies and kniphofias.

Though generally used in larger gardens, the idea can also be adapted to smaller gardens — try ditching a conventional lawn for a perennial meadow instead. Or if your space is very limited, use a simple palette of shorter grasses such as Briza media or Stipa tenuissima, along with smaller perennials — Dianthus carthusianorum, sedum, dicentras and astrantias — and spring bulbs.

Serene. Plants suitable for shady woodland gardens offer a symphony of textures and shades of green. Finely textured ferns, arching grasses and sedges, spring-flowering hellebores and other shade-tolerant plants combined with spring bulbs create a subtle and calm space.

Mediterranean. If your garden is very dry, then you might consider taking inspiration from a dry region of the world. Certain plants instantly evoke warm, dry climes — like lavender, thyme, rosemary and other gray-leaved drought-loving plants. Team these with some warm-toned gravel, stone and terra-cotta pots to achieve the kind of Mediterranean look seen here. Many drought-tolerant plants also are high in aromatic oils, so you’ll get the bonus of scent.

Tropical. By choosing plants with large leaves and bold textures, you can achieve a lush, exuberant, tropical look. Bamboo, coarse grasses, even banana plants if you have a mild climate, can give the effect. Other plants that would contribute well to the look are rhododendrons, scheffleras and, of course, all kinds of ferns.

Whimsical. The human hand is everywhere in this garden, from the clipped boxwood balls to the perfect espaliers that form the backdrop. Yet its lack of symmetry means that it has a lot of movement and interest. The space is neat and controlled, and yet, due to the apparent whimsical placement of the boxwood spheres and their subtle variation in size, it is also soft and relaxing. A good advertisement for embracing asymmetry, this garden offers a modern take on the more rigid formal style.

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Carefree. Manicured gardens are not for everyone. The magic of a wild garden appeals to all ages and echoes a more relaxed personal style — this style can also be more forgiving with regard to maintenance too. A wildflower meadow with plants that can hold their own, such as acanthus (the tall, purple spires seen here), can be an easy-care option. The background and foreground hedges veer toward the natural — not too clipped and controlled.

Minimalist. For this space’s very pared-down look, all of the focus is on one tree. Its multistemmed trunk is very sculptural, and its crown acts as the roof and frame of the space. Living walls and hedges create a subtle green backdrop. Green is one of the calmest colors and, teamed with the gray paving and simple but beautiful furniture, which both echo the lines of the house, the whole space is in harmony.


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