15 Garden Layouts That Make Perfect Sense

Choose a style that matches your personalitly

Entryway garden with wooden pergola covered with long branches

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Many guidelines help you design a cohesive garden, such as working with your site, planting in odd numbers, and repeating colors throughout the garden. However, there are as many ways to interpret these guidelines as there are gardeners. In the end, a garden style is a personal choice.

  • 01 of 15

    A Simple Palette of Colors

    Townhouse Garden
    Home Living Now

    This townhouse courtyard featured on Home Living Now shows a great way to make space appear larger by keeping the number of colors used to a minimum. Purple and yellow are complementary colors that work together to make each color stand out, but any color pairing you love would work. Keep the plants low and loose, to soften the geometric shapes of hardscaping, such as the patio, lawn, and pathway.

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  • 02 of 15

    A Shady Retreat

    Shade Garden and Deck

    Shade gardens create a wonderfully restful ambiance that works particularly well around patios and decks. Hometalk's Gladys King shows you how she made elegant use of the color green in her shady retreat. Low-maintenance ferns and hostas make up the bulk of the planting. Be sure to include some with variegated white and gold leaves, to add even more texture to the planting. Try planting some brighter hosta in a spot where the sun breaks through and watch them glow. Green contrasts particularly well with darker wood colors such as the decking, the stone and paving, and even the tree trunks.

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  • 03 of 15

    An Inviting Modern Garden

    The Telegraph Garden
    Herry Lawford / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Clean lines and symmetry create a modern style garden. In the Telegraph Garden, photographed by Herry Lawford at the Chelsea Flower Show, the minimal use of color is very calming and soothing to the eyes. Create and repeat rounded shapes, such as the clipped boxwoods for a relaxed orderly look. Except for mowing and occasional pruning, very little maintenance is required to keep this space looking fresh and inviting.

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  • 04 of 15

    The Side Yard Garden

    Side Yard Garden

    Narrow side yards can be a challenge to design. Huedecors solved that problem in several ways in this side yard garden. Using fencing that is made of the same materials as the house creates the walls of a garden room. Having the structure of the walls makes it easier to outline the way the path should flow. With these elements laid out, you can use plants as dressing. Something tall, such as the arborvitae at the curve in the path, keeps the eye from shooting straight past the garden and out the gate. Low, spreading grasses will make the space seem a bit wider than it is.

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  • 05 of 15

    A Lush Drought-Tolerant Garden

    A Xeric Front Yard
    Roses in WIlson

    Limited water doesn't mean you can't have a lush, vibrant garden. Many plants can thrive in dry areas and survive periodic drought conditions. Succulents may be the first plants that jump to mind, but this xeric garden featured in Roses in Wilson showcases drought-tolerant shrubs, such as rose of Sharon, rosemary, and Russian sage. Besides plants, choosing a high contrast light-colored stone mulch will make the limited colors all the more vibrant.

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  • 06 of 15

    A Classic Perennial Border

    Pastel Border
    Fran Sorin

    Fran Sorin, at Gardening Gone Wild, provides a perfect example of a classic perennial border, with a billowing, dark evergreen hedge as the backdrop and a progression of plant heights from low in front to tall in the rear. The mounded plants keep your focus rolling toward the house. These are most effective when accented by clusters of spiky plants in increasing heights. If you love blue-toned flowers, the use of white and yellow will make blues and purples stand out, rather than recede into the distance.

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  • 07 of 15

    Japanese Influenced Garden

    Japanese Garden
    Paramount Plants

    The Japanese influence in this garden designed by Ramon Smit and showcased by Paramount Plants goes well beyond the weeping Japanese maple reflecting over the water. What provides a sense of Asian style is how meticulously maintained all the shrubs are. The plants should be perfectly shaped, but look natural. Even the ground coverings need attention to detail. Instead of grass, use moss and gravel. If you want to include a few flowering plants, make sure they echo the color of the hardscaping.

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  • 08 of 15

    Drama in a Small Space

    Spiral Path
    Susan Rushton

    Purple is a dramatic color, but at a distance, it tends to fade away. In this intimate space, purple is warm and embracing. This Hampton Court Flower Show garden featured by Susan Rushton uses the subtle differences between the shades of purple and the round and spiky flowers to keep it from looking flat. You can add some contrast, like the white delphiniums, to brighten things up. An asymmetrical path will lead visitors straight to the focal point.

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  • 09 of 15

    Entryway Garden

    Entryway Garden
    Pacific Horticulture

    At Pacific Horticulture, Dave Egbert explains that a welcoming entryway garden starts with a wide path to the front door. Creeping plants, such as fragrant thyme, can be allowed to meander between the flagstones. Keeping larger shrubs away from the walls isn't just fire smart, it makes the area appear larger than it is. Coordinating the bronze tones of the ornamental grass seed heads, succulents, containers, and tile roof tie the whole entrance together.

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  • 10 of 15

    The Beauty of Grasses

    Sunlight through Ornamental Grasses
    Scott Lewis

    One of the best low-maintenance plants for any garden is ornamental grass. The blades and inflorescence add movement and sound to a garden, but perhaps their best feature is the way they glow when backlit by the sun. This garden was designed by Scott Lewis for a California vineyard explored in Gardenista. The grasses and small trees light up the pathway and invite you to enter. Use something like an arbor to borrow and incorporate the distant view, the way the hazy mountains here create an atmosphere you could never get with bold colored flowers.

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  • 11 of 15

    An Enclosed Garden

    Small Backyard Garden
    Garden Lovers Club

    Whether you have a small backyard or courtyard or you just want to create a space for dining near the house, one of the best ways to close off an area without making it feel claustrophobic is to use lattice. The Garden Lovers Club found a way to make this compact backyard garden both airy and chock full of plants. Lattice openings allow air and light to get through, while still providing some privacy. Plants on either side of the lattice walls will give even more screening. Having the plants and containers in the yard elevated above the sitting area further adds to the sense of airy enclosure. You can blend the wood tones and gray hardscaping by the use of gray and terracotta-colored ornaments, pots, and cushions.

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  • 12 of 15

    The Modern, Functional Garden

    Garden Cut Out of Patio
    Collaborate Decors

    Many times, outdoor entertainment areas need to be carved out around a garden, but the folks at Collaborate Decors showcased a garden carved out of the patio. With the small tree in the center and the large boulders, it looks as though this was a natural part of the site. Two separate seating areas are created by this division, but the stepping stones keep them connected. Although a limited number of plants are used, there is enough garden space to soften and cool the look of the pavers. You could create a similar space on an existing patio with raised beds.

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  • 13 of 15

    Softening Geometry in the Garden

    Geometric Garden

    Symmetry and geometry can be very striking in the garden. Nawawiah at Inspiring Home Decor softened the almost Zen-like quality of the hardscaping in this geometric garden by juxtaposing it with a deep, lush border of soft greens and purples. This way you can still have order and symmetry, as here with the alternating standards and hydrangeas and the pair of purple-leaved trees, but the fullness and mounding shapes of the plants will keep your garden from being austere.

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  • 14 of 15

    Floating Island Gardens

    Island Flower Beds
    Veronica Shukla

    These island beds are overflowing with effusive flowers, but their clean edges keep them from looking wild or messy. On her eponymous blog, Veronica Shukla used this English style border to inspire her garden. A natural feel is created by using different size beds, while a sense of cohesion can be maintained by repeating colors and plants, like the airy wandflower and the bold coneflowers. The two tall evergreens in the large front bed break up the otherwise flat expanse of flowering perennials.

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  • 15 of 15

    The Front Yard Garden

    Front Yard Garden

    The prejudice against front yard gardens has abated, but they still need to be well maintained, to be acceptable. This cottage-style garden at GooDSGN shows how to keep things simple while tying in with the house. Large shrubs on either side of the garden will add substance and anchor the space. Bright flowers at the entrance, like these impatiens and hakonechloa grasses, are just enough to designate an entry point without looking too busy and overwhelming the house. And while you want your garden to provide a bit of privacy for you, it's best not to fully block the view of the house from the street.