Small Formal Garden Ideas
Formal gardens follow specific design rules that combine geometric shapes and patterns along side statuary and water features to create a sophisticated symmetry. Formal garden designs are characterized by walkways and flowerbeds arranged along straight lines or simple curves. Simplicity is achieved by using fewer plants and selecting plants for their elegant features. Tall elements such as statuary and topiary can be found around the formal garden to add height. Stone pathways and large urn shaped containers filled with flowering plants add balance and unity to a formal garden.
Tips for creating a small beautiful formal garden
Choose the theme
In any small garden, the most important goal is to go for one main effect. Because the entire space can be seen in one glance, everything in it is on center stage. Think of the garden as a single room in a house, and give it one décor.
Formal garden designs, which tend to use the same plant repeatedly to create a single effect,lend themselves easily to this single-theme idea. Repeating the same shrub to form a uniform hedge , for example, is a classic formal garden element that helps to organize a garden.
Opt for a focus
Giving the garden a single focal point helps organize the space and makes it more comfortable to be in. If your garden is enclosed, make it inward-looking. Place something eye-catching (a sculpture, a fountain, an especially dramatic small tree) in the center or on one wall of the garden to distract attention from the boundaries, and keep everything else low-key.
A classic formal design that works well in a small space is the so-called “paradise garden,” which has roots in ancient Persia. This design divides a square plot into quarters, with two paths crossing in the center. A pool, sundial or other important focal object is placed in the center. The quarter beds can be planted with four different types of plants or all the same, lined with hedges, or even covered in paving.
An ancient design with a modern feel is the checkerboard garden, which alternates squares of paving with squares of plants. You can use different herbs or flowers in each square.
If your garden has views, make them the focus of the garden and allow no other distracting features. Frame the view with matching plants, lead towards it with planking, or circle the viewing spot with stone pavers.
An extremely tiny garden can be designed to offer pleasant views from house windows, like a stage set. Choose an object that is attractive year-round, like an urn, set it where it can be easily seen from the windows, and plant to set it off, perhaps with symmetrically placed evergreen shrubs to create a dark background.
Using too many different materials, such as wood and stone and gravel, or too many different colors and textures of plants, will clutter up a small space. Limit yourself to one kind of hardscaping and one color scheme. Regularly shaped materials work better in a formal garden: brick feels more formal than flagstone, for instance. Choose plants that won’t get too large for the space or that are amenable to pruning. Formal gardens tend to use a limited palette of plant types and repeat them to create a uniform feel. It is common to fill entire beds with the same plant. Species with neat growth patterns, rather than plants that lean and billow, have a more formal look.
In a small space, beware of shrubs with strongly horizontal growth patterns that might be spoiled if you have to prune them for size. And climbing plants or vines can disguise boundaries while taking up less space than shrubs or hedges—but keep them clipped and neat in a formal garden.
Since you’ll be able to touch your plants easily, think about choosing ones with pleasing textures (such as fuzzy leaves), food (berries you can eat) or fragrance (scented flowers or leaves).
Because of their strong structure, formal gardens require some initial planning and need more work to get established. But once they are in place, their maintenance is often quite easy, making them ideal even for neophyte gardeners.