The Beauty and Charm of Different Garden Design Styles (Part I)

There is a garden style to fit every taste and every style, ranging from traditional and contemporary designs to regional and theme-based concepts. This part I will delve into different garden types revealing their distinguishing traits, design aspects, and how best to implement them in your space. Prepare to be inspired and discover the ideal garden style for your outdoor retreat!

An image of a English garden style with rounded hedges, beautiful flowers, & symmetric type design, with sand & brick sidewalks and footpaths.

Traditional Garden Designs

The English garden

Everyone has a mental image of the typical English garden. Its quintessential British charm tumbles from its lush, flowing borders, vivid flowerbeds, and meandering walks. It is wild countryside that has been tidied up and replanted. There is an air of timeless tranquillity about an English garden that has a welcoming and comforting ambiance. To capture the true character of this classic garden style, incorporate elements such as fragrant roses, trimmed hedges, and quaint garden structures such as arbours or gazebos.

The French garden

You would be forgiven for thinking a French garden is going to be a wild romantic space designed with reckless abandon, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The French formal garden is in fact characterised by accuracy and symmetry. It leans more towards the conservative elite with a style that exudes wealth and sophistication with its beautifully groomed hedges, geometric patterns, and towering fountains. While it may sound stuffy and formal, the elegance and sophistication is unmistakable. To obtain the trademark aesthetic of a French formal garden, create formal parterres, use symmetrical plantings, and integrate marble or white stone sculptures or decorative ironwork.

The Italian garden

Also known as the Italian Renaissance Garden. Think of renaissance paintings with lush foliage, roman architecture and water features. Terraced landscapes, elaborate mazes, and sculptural focal points are common features in Italian Renaissance gardens. In order to capture the ageless elegance of this garden style, incorporate classic statues, climbing vines and cascading waterfalls.

A Mediterranean Garden style with bright flowers and plants.

Contemporary Garden Designs

Modern Minimalist Garden

The modern minimalist garden style is defined by sharp lines, smooth materials, and a pared back, simplistic aesthetic. This is achieved by a decisive and limited colour palette, geometric shapes, and low-maintenance planting. To create that minimalist finish, choose outdoor furniture such as concrete benches or metal seating and keep it sleek and exacting. This is a no frills design.

Japanese Zen Garden

The Japanese Zen garden is a haven of natural beauty and spirituality. The Zen look is achieved by the use of evergreen plants such as bonsai or Japanese maples, as well as strategically placed lanterns or bamboo fences. To create a serene and peaceful ambience, incorporate materials such as raked gravel or sand, carefully positioned pebbles, and serene water features. The quiet trickle of water and the soft footsteps on the gravel all contribute to the placid stillness of a beautiful Japanese garden.

Mediterranean Garden

For those not lucky enough to live by the Med, a Mediterranean garden can be the very thing to transport your senses to that sun speckled sea and fragrant bougainvillaea. This is a happy garden style with brilliant colours, aromatic plants, and tactile materials. To recreate a Mediterranean oasis, use clay pots, olive trees, lavender plants, and flowing wisteria or star jasmine. For a truly Mediterranean vibe, use warm, earthy tones in hardscaping and embrace a relaxed, informal arrangement.

A modern summery garden with a swimming pool and decking around it, and a huge green area with grass.

Regional and Cultural Garden Styles

Tropical Garden

The tropics is a region that lies roughly at the centre of the earth crossing the tropics of cancer and capricorn. This means it is warm all year round which is reflected beautifully in the Tropical Gardens. The tropics also have a wet season meaning the vegetation is lush, vibrant and varied.  Designing a tropical garden means incorporating a wide variety of tropical plants with huge leaves, bright colours, and striking textures. Create foliage layers with palms, ferns, and tropical flowers. For the laid back ambiance where these gardens originated, add hammocks, bamboo structures, and water features.

Desert Garden

Desert gardens are as mysterious as they are beautiful. Covering ground surfaces with gravel or sand will create the illusion of an arid wasteland but when speckled with succulents, cactus, and desert-adapted shrubs, the garden is brought to life with fascinating silhouettes and textures. Think minimalist, but rather than as a design choice, think of it as minimalist by nature. Use earthy dusty colour tones and think about incorporating shade structures to provide comfort from the hot desert sun.

Cottage Garden

A cottage garden is an enchanting marriage of wild and carefully tended. With its bulging bounty of flowers, winding walkways, and snug corners, the cottage garden style represents a quaint and cosy ambiance. To create a symphony of colour and fragrance, combine perennials, annuals, and climbing plants. For an charming cottage garden, incorporate romantic elements such as arched gates, picket fences, and rustic benches.

A urban rooftop garden style with trees, shade area with seating area and flowers.

Eclectic and Fusion Garden Styles

Bohemian Garden

The bohemian garden style encourages artistic expression, freedom, and a touch of whimsy. Experiment with a variety of patterns, colours, and textures in your plants, decor, and furnishings. Use mismatched seats, bright linens or dreamcatchers, and repurpose vintage planters. For a genuinely eclectic vibe, create warm lounging spaces with cushions and rugs, and integrate interesting art pieces.

Urban Rooftop Garden

Rooftops are a brilliant solution to limited outdoor space in urban environments. Container gardening works well on rooftops and can include a variety of ornamental plants, herbs, and tiny veggies. Be mindful of weight and choose lightweight and weather-resistant materials for furniture and decor. Vertical gardens or trellises are a clever way to optimise vertical space and create privacy. If you want to introduce a cool urban outdoor space, add ambient lighting and seating and don;t be afraid of a few ornamental features.

Native and animal-friendly Garden

If you want to find a way to incorporate the natural environment into your personal outdoor space, use native plants to plant species that attract butterflies, bees, and birds. In order to increase biodiversity and support local animal populations, include items such as bird feeders, butterfly puddlers, and tiny water features. You can create your own little wildlife sanctuary while you contribute to pollination and birdlife as well as creating a beautiful space.


Make sure to check out our next blog for Part 2 of The Beauty and Charm of Different Garden Design Styles. If you want to learn more about garden design, we have the right course for you! Enrol now to start your learning journey. 

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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