Aspects Of A Formal Garden

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Aspects Of A Formal Garden

20 March 2020
 Categories: , Blog

You might be planning to emulate the grandeur of classic palatial English and European gardens in your own back yard. While your formal garden will be on a smaller scale, it can still evoke a sense of classic design. You just need to consider several vital aspects.

Symmetry And Focal Points

A formal garden is not filled with random, free-flowing lines like a cottage garden. Instead, it evokes a sense of order and planning. A formal structure often begins with a focal point —such as a water fountain, statue, sundial or a beautiful tree. All paths within the garden then typically lead toward this often centrally-located feature. A vital element of the layout is symmetry. You need to create mirror images so that pathways and garden beds on one side of the focal point mirror the opposite side.

Geometry And Order

This symmetry should marry with straight lines and geometric shapes. A central water feature, for instance, surrounded by irregular and winding garden beds on either side won't convey the control of formal landscaping. Garden beds and pathways should follow straight lines and geometric shapes. For instance, plan a water feature with four straight trails leading outwards, creating four equally sized triangular garden beds. Neatly trimmed square hedges are a common element in a formal garden, often full of lush green foliage. With flowers, stick to a restricted colour palette of white, or incorporate only a couple of hues. 

Timeless Materials

When selecting materials for the focal point, pathways and other elements, select timeless materials. Natural stone or faux stone pavers create beautiful trails to wander down and enjoy the view. Gravel or brick provide other elegant surfaces. For a bench seat, choose a model with ornate ironwork, or paint it black or green to flatter the space. Classic stone or terracotta planters are ideal when placed on either side of a bench — alternatively, position planters bordering a path.


The contrast within a formal garden prevents monotony from taking hold—gravel, stone and brick contrast against foliage and flowers. Vertical trees differentiate themselves from horizontal hedges, creating a high-low pattern. Areas of smooth lawn provide spaces to enjoy a picnic while differing from the raised garden beds and hardscape elements. Remember to keep your formal garden neatly manicured, to regularly trim hedges and keep pathways clear. Edging along the path borders will neatly section off and delineate the different areas.

For more information, reach out to a local landscaping company.