How to design a formal garden

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How to design a formal garden

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Project Overview

Planning and planting a formal garden can transform your outdoors. With their simple geometric designs and defined edges, you arrange your plants, hedges, and walkways symmetrically in in circular, rectangular, or square designs. This guide shows you the kinds of plants to use, how to look after them and the importance of having a focal point.
Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Plan your formal garden
2 Choose the plants
3 Easy to grow plants for a formal garden.
4 Look after your formal garden
5 Create a focal point in the garden
6 Keep your colours simple but vary the height
7 Be adventurous
  • Step 1. Plan your formal garden

    Start with a sheet of paper and sketch out the area you want to turn into a formal garden. Consider which plants and trees you’ll use and where you’ll put them. Also think about pathways, the use of pavers and walls. Remember, a formal garden is all about symmetry, repetition and structure.

  • Step 2. Choose the plants

    When choosing the plants to use in your formal garden, make sure the climate is right for them.  Choose three to five different plants for your garden and repeat the order their planted in, to create a symmetrical pattern. 
  • Step 3. Easy to grow plants for a formal garden.

    If you’re just starting out, there are three plants that are ideal for creating a formal garden - English Box, Standard Lilly Pilly and Lavender. They’re easy to grow and simple to maintain.
  • Step 4. Look after your formal garden

    As well as making sure your formal garden is well-watered and fertilised, it’s important to trim your plants up to four times a year to keep them in good shape. Ideally, this should happen at the end of every season. Trim the English Box so that it stays low and looking formal. Cut the Lilly Pilly so that it keeps its round shape. Trim the lavender to keep it looking neat and tidy.

  • Step 5. Create a focal point in the garden

    A focal point is one of the most effective ways of creating a sense of design and impact in your garden. It’s something that draws your attention. It could be by placing plants at the end of a pathway, a statue or water feature, or a large tree.

  • Step 6. Keep your colours simple but vary the height

    Some of the best formal gardens are very simple. So when planning your design, stick to an easy colour palette. Pastels work well together, so does mixing bold colours together, and bold and pastels of the same tone look good. Also use plants of different heights. They are visually appealing and help add texture to your garden.

  • Step 7. Be adventurous

    Formal gardens are very stylised, but you can still be adventurous. Try using native plants or even exotic Mediterranean plants to give your formal garden a different look.

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