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Formal Gardens


Formal gardens often feature geometric designs of varying complexity, from simple circles and grids to labyrinthine patterns. Most formal gardens also typically try to create a perception of order. This is in direct contrast to organic landscaping, which seeks to emulate nature by modeling planting islands after natural formations found in forests or clearings. DIY landscapers interested in creating a formal garden should be aware that it does require increased maintenance to keep trim edges along hardscapes (driveways, patios, porches, etc.) and property markers.

When deciding whether to create a formal garden, homeowners should first have an excellent picture of what the finished landscape will look like. Due to the fact that formal gardens are orderly and require meticulous maintenance, any elements that are out of place will be magnified. Transplanting or otherwise disturbing planting areas after an initial planting can significantly disrupt the order of a formal garden design. Consequently, DIY landscapers may spend months attempting to bring the garden back to its former appearance. To combat this possibility, there are several landscaping programs commercially available for consumers that help facilitate a better understanding of a garden’s finished look. These programs allow for homeowners to view, in fair approximation, how a garden will appear in three dimensions. This grants a better grasp of plant pairings that might have previously existed only on paper. Homeowners are also encouraged to visit local plant nurseries and garden centers during the planning stages.

Homeowners have a tremendous number of plant varieties to choose from in the formal garden. Columnar shrubs and hedges make excellent candidates for property markers and symmetric framing of doorways and hardscapes. These plants are also frequently used in topiary, the practice of pruning and trimming plants to assume many different shapes. Additionally, border plants can have a huge impact on the overall aesthetic due to the emphasis the formal garden places on transitional elements. Typically, transitions are sharp to create a perception of order and regimentation, so border points are especially prominent as focal points for passersby. DIY landscapers may wish to make certain that their border plants are particularly resilient, as any bare patches or plant deformities along borders will be quite noticeable.

The intensive maintenance often required for the upkeep of formal gardens can be minimized with careful planning and plant choice. There are many shrubs, groundcovers, hedge bushes, and flowers which naturally grow in tight and relatively orderly spreads. If homeowners believe maintenance time and effort will be an issue, it is strongly advised that they incorporate plants that require less maintenance to achieve the same level of orderliness.


Tags: formal, garden, design, landscape, homeowner, DIY