10 Steps for Creating a Formal Garden
If balance and orderliness is your cup of tea, consider setting up your own formal-style garden
A Formal Garden Defined
If you are an organized person who gets dizzy at the thought of asymmetry, then the balance and orderliness of a formal garden might just suit you to a “T.”
Symmetry, achieved through the repetition and mirroring of geometric forms, plants and color, is the overriding design element that brings about the formal garden’s methodical look. Well-trimmed lawns, clipped hedges and pruned plants characterize this style’s neat and tidy, no-coloring-outside-the-lines appearance. Hardscape dominates with terraces, columns and pathways offering structure. Walls or hedges provide visual barriers and keep landscaping within a well-defined plan. Since there’s little straying from the pattern, it may be easy to incorporate some elements in your own landscape, but because a formal garden needs to keep its immaculate appearance, the style takes work to maintain.
10 Steps for Creating Your Own Formal Garden
1. Mark entranceways with columns, topiaries and arches.
2. Create a central path that runs through the landscape.
3. Arrange plantings on either side of the path that echo each other.
4. Place a focal point such as a sculpture or water feature at the far end or in the middle of the central path.
5. Create a destination spot, such as a deck, at one end of the central path.
6. Add other well-defined paths that radiate from the central path.
7. Demarcate garden areas with hedges or walls.
8. Mirror plants, colors, structures and shapes within each garden area.
9. Repeat a geometric shape throughout the garden design.
10. Limit your plant and color palette (traditionally formal gardens contain green—in hedges, topiaries, trees and lawns—and white in flowers).