Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe

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There’s more than one way to garden — in fact, there’s a world of options! Learn about some of the most popular gardening styles from around the world to gain inspiration for your own growing space at home.

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When it’s time to design your garden, it can be hard to know which direction to take. Humans have been cultivating plants for thousands of years, and have developed unique methods for doing so all over the globe.

There’s no reason to stick with what’s popular in your region — an entire world of gardening styles awaits. Use this guide as inspiration for finding a gardening style that speaks to you and makes sense within your own yard.

With a little creativity, you can combine some of these ideas for a growing space that’s uniquely your own.

14 Garden Styles from Around the World

Gain inspiration for your own garden from these popular horticulture styles from around the globe.

Dutch Garden

Renowned for their efficient use of space, sculpted bushes and trees, and canals throughout, Dutch gardens are tranquil spaces. They tend to be small, self-contained, and often less formal than gardens in England and France. But in contrast, the region is also famous for its massive beds of tulips planted in cascading rainbows.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Butterfly Garden

These gardens are designed to provide habitat space for butterflies and similar insect species. They will include a variety of flowering plants filled with nectar that serve both as food sources and sites for laying legs and hatching from chrysalises.

Popular with nature-lovers worldwide, butterfly gardens tend to be somewhat protected from the elements. They often include water sources and windbreaks to keep these pollinators safe and happy.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
English Garden

English gardens strive to capture an idealized view of nature. They tend to be somewhat informal and typically include groves of trees along gently rolling hills, often with bridges or recreations of ancient structures like chapels or temples.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
French Formal Garden

Renowned for their symmetry and precision, French gardens are imposing and luxurious. They tend to be impeccably manicured with short-cut grass, well-kempt hedges, ample pathways, and flower beds bursting with blooms.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Japanese Garden

Designed to cultivate a sense of tranquility, Japanese Zen gardens highlight the natural landscape with water and aged materials to give them a timeless look. There’s a preference for greenery, and flowering plants are less common than other garden styles. Oftentimes, trees and shrubs are meticulously pruned to give them a cultivated “wild” appearance.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
English Cottage Garden

Known for their informal design and use of traditional materials, English cottage gardens contain a mix of edible and ornamental plants arranged in charming ways. They are a reaction against formal gardening styles and prioritize a wilder look, emphasizing plants that are both productive and beautiful.

For example, many cottage gardens are renowned for their abundant rose bushes that are allowed to grow large and slightly rogue.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Keyhole Garden

Unique in design, keyhole gardens got their start in Lesotho. They are typically circular growing spaces about two meters wide with a keyhole-shaped indentation on one side. Within this indention, gardeners make compost that can be applied to the rest of the growing space once it’s finished.

The appeal of this design is that the beds are easy to weed and harvest from every angle, ensuring easy access for gardeners with limited mobility. Most keyhole gardens rise a meter above the ground and are shaped with wood or stone walls. This works to trap moisture in the beds for less maintenance in the long run.

Spanish Garden

These formal gardens are often found in courtyards and usually consist of potted plants and vines growing along the walls. Frequently, they are accented with fountains and other water features.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Colonial Revival Garden

Designed to evoke a sense of the colonial period in the United States, colonial revival gardens usually consist of simple rectangular beds with straight pathways between them. Most are enclosed by low walls or fences and will include everything from perennial plants to vegetables and ornamental flowers grown together.

Their primary purpose is to provide food for a household, and as such they are usually located close to the kitchen.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Chinese Garden

As a style that has evolved for more than 3,000 years, Chinese gardens tend to be intimate spaces that express a sense of harmony between humans and nature. Most will include enclosed walls and ponds with rock sculptures, trees, and flowers arranged along bridges and pavilions.

The goal is to style the garden so you can’t see everything at once, meaning that you see new vistas with every few steps you take.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Forest Gardening

As the name implies, forest gardening is a growing style dedicated to producing food within a woodland ecosystem. This low-maintenance form of gardening tends to focus on perennials like fruit and nut trees and is designed to work within natural landscapes so that you can produce food without ruining habitat space for native plants and animals. While the movement originated in the UK, you can find forest gardens worldwide today.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Aquascaping

Made popular in the Netherlands throughout the 1930s, aquascaping is essentially gardening underwater. It’s a practice of arranging aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, and other accent pieces in aesthetically pleasing ways within an aquarium. Most aquascapes include fish, but it isn’t necessary.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Shakespeare Garden

This whimsical garden theme requires you to grow some or all of the 175 plants mentioned in the writings of William Shakespeare. They are a popular attraction in public parks and universities, especially in the United States.

You will likely encounter signs near each plant with relevant quotations from the Bard, and the gardens often include reproductions of English architecture from Shakespeare’s period.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Permaculture Garden

Originating in Australia, this gardening approach consists of a set of design principles for an ecologically sound growing system. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) emphasizes the idea of growing food in harmony with nature in ways that regenerate the soil and create a self-maintaining system. It’s a whole-systems method of growing that prioritizes long-term sustainability over short-term production.

Many permaculture growing techniques come from traditional and indigenous practices, and they put a lot of emphasis on how gardens are oriented within the larger landscape.

Getting Garden Design Inspiration From Around the Globe
Get Inspired for Your Own Garden Style!

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of garden styles to consider. Find the ones that speak to you and make sense for your growing zone and space, and you’re sure to create an inspired garden that is the talk of your town.