Garden Design Ideas to Suit Any Style and Need

When it comes to garden design there are a number of practical considerations that you need to think about:

  • Maintenance – how much time do you want to spend (or pay someone to spend) in the garden
  • Location – what climate restrictions impact your area, availability of water, sun exposure, etc.
  • What size garden do you have or how much space to you have to work with
  • What do you want your garden to achieve i.e. functionality with fruit and vegetable production, or decorative
  • Organic  or non-organic preferences (or somewhere in the middle);
  • Other – heritage listings, local restrictions on tree felling, allergies to pollens, etc…

So, with that in mind, I thought I would use this blog post to showcase a few examples of various garden styles that I have seen in my travels:

FREESTYLE GARDENS: Well this is what I call the natural prairie look . This design form is championed by a Dutch designer Piet Ouldolf and here is an example of one of his designs from Chicago. Now this is not everyone’s style preference but you would have to admit it does qualify as extremely low maintenance.

Prairie Style garden


FORMAL GARDENS:  there are many forms and examples of this type of garden such as Parterre (typically in symmetrical patterns) with many beds.  These beds often mix function and form with the inclusion of vegetables in a decorative setting.

formal garden

Parterre garden


COTTAGE GARDENS:  these tend to be more of an informal design that use a combination of perennials in mixed plantings and can include edibles. Canna Tropicanna® tends to be a popular choice for providing a dramatic splash of color in the cottage gardens as does the Cordyline Festival™ Burgundy with its low growing habit.

Biltmore Estate Gardens

Tropicanna cannas add brightness and a loose touch to the Biltmore Estate Gardens

Cottage Garden


COASTAL GARDENS:  Coastal locations are tough on any plant, with usually higher wind and salt considerations.  Therefore plants in these locations need to be able to withstand these more challenging growing conditions. Flower Carpet® roses are proven performers in coastal gardens and cope very well with these types of conditions (including the salt).

coastal Garden

Wildflower Gardens on the coast in Seattle

Coastal gardens

Flower Carpet Pink Supreme thrive in front of this Coastal Maine home


THEME GARDENSTheme gardens can be based on any preferences like native plants, succulents, unattractive garden gnomes and other kitsch statues, or on purposes such as butterfly gardens to attract bees and butterflies, cutting gardens for floral bouquets, wildlife gardens to attract birds and small wildlife, night time gardens that show up more in the dark, and much more.  Theme gardens are a chance for the garden owner to express their creative side.   You can create small theme gardens within a larger garden setting as well.

Huntingdon Gardens

Succulent Garden at Huntingdon Gardens in California – ideal for drought conditions!

cutting garden

These gardens at Schreiner Iris Farm can serve as a cutting garden and a butterfly garden!


JAPANESE/ITALIAN/SPANISH/ENGLISH GARDENS: Each culture (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) has developed their own style of gardens over the years. Much of the garden style has been influenced by either local climate conditions, cultural preferences for al fresco type dining or an imitation of what people see presented locally. This is really a sure-fire way to know that a garden is going to work, as the plants have been proven to perform in similar conditions.

Japanese garden


Italian garden


Buddleja Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip'

Butterfly gardens are always fun for both adults and children

So with that short tour of garden types, hopefully you have seen something that inspires or fits your desired appearance and your practical needs.  The key thing to remember with gardening is that there really is no right or wrong when it comes to design – it is all about what works for you!



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