Formal or Informal Gardens — Which Is Right for You?

9 September 2020
 Categories: , Blog


When it comes to landscaping your yard, the type of garden you choose will help you find the greatest happiness and functionality in your outdoor space. And the most basic garden decision you'll need to make is whether to plant a formal garden or an informal one. Not sure what you should do? Here's what you need to know about both. 

What Makes a Formal Garden? 

Formal gardens are more obviously structured in nature and tend to feature geometric shapes and clearly-defined designs. You may see neat hedgerows or curves, symmetrical plantings, clean hardscape elements, and lots of patterns.

Formal gardens can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. They can reflect an Italian or French estate or could be chic, modern, and abstract. This type of garden does require significant maintenance to keep its shape, but it is generally contained in smaller areas with better control. Formal gardens are often installed near the home to make the best of their stunning visual impact, great outdoor entertainment potential, and maintenance needs. 

What Makes an Informal Garden?

Informal gardens are what most Americans are used to, and they provide the most flexibility and freedom of expression. A cottage garden offers an explosion of colors and plants right out the back door. Japanese gardens and Mediterranean gardens, on the other hand, follow their own rules to evoke the personality of the different regions. 

In this style, patterns and structure are harder to find. Plants, beds, and zones tend to bleed into one another and create softer transitions. Symmetry is not a big force, and the end result feels more organic than a formal arrangement. 

An informal garden doesn't necessarily mean a carefree garden, though. You may actually have more different types of plants and greenery to care for. Design can also be more challenging simply because there are fewer rules and nearly unlimited possibilities. Each homeowner must find their own way with less guidance. 

Where should you place your informal garden? Private spaces such as the backyard are ideal because the design is often more personal than a formal garden. If you have a large and open area to landscape, informal gardens are a great backdrop for the areas around the home which you use more often. 

Each yard and each homeowner's style determines the best types of garden to use. Want to learn more about each option and how to use them in the best ways? Start by consulting with a custom landscaping service in your area today.