How to Design a Long Formal Garden

This plot, like the previous one, is excep­tionally narrow and the aim has been, once again, to try to produce a layout which minimizes the long narrow appear­ance and creates some interesting features. Although this layout is much more formal and rigid than the previous one, it still starts off at an angle to the house. The patio is a major feature, with an interesting mix of 450 mm (18 in) slab and basket-weave brickwork. Assuming that the bricks are dull red or a mixture of reds and perhaps blue/grey (multi­colours), brown slabs could be used to produce a very mellow effect. Light grey slabs would give a more modern and contrasting effect. When a garden is as narrow as this, a large patio will inevitably extend a long way out from the house, pushing the actual garden a significant distance from the French doors. To over­come this, I have introduced an area of lawn quite close to the house, even at the risk of reducing the usefulness of the paving. This would result in a much more pleasant outlook from the French doors. In this particular case, the patio need not slope away from the house, but to one side so that the rainwater discharges into the left-hand border. This will mean that the patio can be kept flush with all the surrounding grass. The raised brick bed on the right and the feature to the left would have the effect of partially sectioning off the patio area of the garden from the rest.

Long Formal Garden

The raised bed would be about 300 mm (12 in) high and contain some evergreens as well as a climbing plant for the fence. The feature on the left is a brick wall, perhaps 1.2 m (4 ft) high, backing a small pool. A cascade of water would emerge from a pipe or ornament two thirds of the way up the wall and flow down into the pool. Because the pool is so small, aquatic plants will have to be kept to a minimum, but there should be room for a miniature water lily and some Cana­dian pond weed (Elodea canadensis).

One idea worth considering is to have a protruding brick shelf with a small urn or vase on its side. A pipe from the pump would be inserted at the back of the urn so that the water eventually overflows from its mouth into the pool below. In both cases, the pipe from the pump will have to come in from behind the wall, making it invisible. Because a submer­sible pump will have to be housed in the pool, the water should be at least 400 mm (16 in) deep. In actual fact, the pool can be made to look even deeper by painting the inside of it black. The section of garden beyond the water feature is a rather formal area of grass and planting.

Shrubs, including some evergreens, would be needed behind the water feature and behind the seat. Elsewhere, and especially to the right, borders are narrow so a combination of climbers and herbaceous flowers, with perhaps a few roses, would be the most appropriate type of planting.

A trellis and arch separate this area from the end section. The arch (or pergola) could have paving beneath it which might then continue right back to the shed/greenhouse. The trellis will need an evergreen climber as a perma­nent visual screen, perhaps an ivy such as Hedera colchica dentata ‘Aurea’. The border on the left of the path, beyond the arch, should be quite sunny and is wide enough for some espalier, cordon or fan-trained fruit trees. To the right is a collec­tion of soft fruit or vegetables and at the end is a greenhouse (or shed), with space for compost or general storage.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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