Different Garden Types: Not All Gardens Have To Produce Food

Are there different garden types besides flowers and veggies? Absolutely!

When most people think of a garden, they imagine fruits and vegetables growing in rows. Or flowers decorating the front of a house. While this is absolutely a type of garden, there are actually quite a few different garden types out there. 

By definition, a garden is considered an outdoor space set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants, flowers, and other structures.

I am a bit of a rebel and while I love to grow things I’m not going to waste a full summer growing vegetables that cost me pennies to get at the store. 

If I’m going to grow anything I am going to grow the things I love to eat that cost more.

Deciding what YOU value most is key to choosing the right garden type. Don’t feel obligated to grow something because “that’s what you’re supposed to do”

You may have a green thumb and a want to grow food or you may have a different idea of what the word garden looks like. Thankfully, there’s no right or wrong way to create a beautiful garden in your backyard.

Research The Different Garden Types

While there are tons of different garden types you definitely want to take your location, climate, and the amount of sun you get into consideration. Doing a bit of research to find out what is required for the types of foliage you want to grow will save you from a lot of disappointment.

Ornamental Floral Gardens 

A lovely display of flowers, trees, and shrubs is a wonderful way to create an inviting space. Ornamental floral gardens require the same keys for success as other gardens including proper soil, access to sunlight, and water. There are a wide variety of floral garden styles. From wildflower gardens with no structure to carefully sculpted english gardens, there is a garden style for everyone.

Country Gardens

These often have a wide range of flowers in the garden and are full of bright colors. Almost taking on the wildflower look. Most common in Europe and North America. 

While country gardens are beautiful they can look a little messy and sometimes like a weed patch if you’re not careful. Beginner gardeners tend to go this brought because they want to grow everything and have a hard time choosing. 

If you choose to go this route two tips that will help you keep it looking a little more organized and designed.

  • Choose similar colors. – Don’t mix up literally every color under the sun. If you want a variety, choose 2-3 colors for each flower bed. 
  • Choose different plant varieties that bloom in different seasons. So you don’t get to the end of the year with a garden full of green leaves. 
country garden with lavender and a bench

Container Garden

Container gardens are composed of literally any style container set up for growing a plan. Anything from a small glass bowl to a large wood rain barrel. They are great for small spaces or putting a bit of beauty on your porch or somewhere that may not be suitable for putting in an actual garden bed.

They are also a great way to grow a small vegetable garden to see if you are really wanting to get into it. They allow you to grow something without taking up any ground space. I will grow my annual herbs in containers so they are not taking up space in my garden beds.

container herb garden

Herb Garden

I love growing herbs. One because they are so much better to cook with than dried herbs from the store. And two they make great medicinal alternatives for the animals. 

Herbs are awesome but they also can look like a weed patch if you don’t take your time to plan out a garden and just put them in an open spot. I will plant the perennial herbs mixed in the ground garden amongst the flowers and shrubs.

Lavender growing in a garden

Then I’ll plant annuals in containers or pots. That way they don’t take up space

Sculpture Garden

Artists and people who are a little on the whimsical side often create sculpture gardens. These gardens showcase a range of unique hardscapes that create an outdoor mood.

From upcycled and reclaimed pieces turned into art to using plants to create unique visuals like topiaries, there are all sorts of ways to turn a backyard space into a fun sculpture garden.

These give the high-end vibe and can look absolutely stunning if done right. Buuut they do need to be done sparingly to look classy. Less is more in this instance. Keep in mind these can be quite demanding if the plants don’t grow naturally in that form.

Outdoor Living Rooms

It has become increasingly common to create an outdoor “living space” in the yard. Mixing the benefits of the indoors and the outdoors into the best of both worlds. 

Personally, I love them because you are more likely to go sit outside and read and just relax rather than stay indoors.

While an outdoor living space may not be considered a garden, the integration of indoor and outdoor components can make any backyard an indoor/outdoor experience.

Indoor Gardening

In the same way, outdoor living has grown in popularity, indoor gardening is becoming popular. With specialized lighting that makes it possible to grow food indoors to windowsill herb gardens, growing plants inside brings the garden out of the weather and into the home. 

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to go this route is your location matters. If you are in the northern states like I am your indoor gardens won’t make it through the winter by just having them in a windowsill. You will have to get artificial light as the months get darker. 

It makes me laugh when I see our local stores bring in these “indoor lemon trees”… People will buy thoughts unknowing that they need more light than we get naturally here. 

indoor container garden

Drought-Resistant Gardening

Some climates are too hot for many plants. In some areas, water is expensive to use or there isn’t enough to spare. Drought-resistant gardens are an excellent way to create beauty in the backyard without a lot of maintenance.

In many cases, rocks and other hardscape is used to create eye-catching displays that look lovely despite a lack of live plants.

Now the rock gardens can also be a great alternative if you have an extremely shaded garden as well. My childhood home had A LOT of trees which was wonderful for my animals… but when it came to my plant habit.. well not so much. It was very hard to grow almost anything that bloomed and my herbs were definitely not growing fast. 

Drought resistant garden with rocks and cacti.

Rock Gardens

Rock gardens can be literally anything you want and definitely falls in the natural gardens category. They are often are designed to look like they are a natural part of a rocky hillside or a sloping garden because if they are flat you won’t see the design and it will look like someone just plopped rocks down.

If rocks are added, they are generally laid on their larger edges because if they had “fallen” down the hillside they don’t stay on the smallest side if they don’t get caught on something. 

Having a few large boulders spaced out will look better than a ton of small rocks.

Love water? A well-laid-out rock garden can have water features added and even a small pond with goldfish. If you plan your garden carefully you can add different types of roses like rock roses to add some color. For plants that are more shade-loving plants giving them a north-facing space is best.

If you like a variety of plants adding smaller perennial plants are great for filling spaces in vertical cracks in the rock faces.

The most popular types of rock used in rock gardens are. Sandstone and limestone. Sandstone is going to look more sleek and natural. But there are certain types of plants that do best in limestone. 

Granite is good for sculpture or design work that you don’t want to weather. But it will not look natural if you mix it in with the main garden bed.

Woodland Gardens

This style of native garden is informal gardens and is naturalistic and unkempt. If there are paths in the garden they are often made out of mulch or grass instead of stone pavers. They also curve and go with the landscape rather than in an organized straight line.

Native plants are often brought in to have a more natural look.

herb garden in a raised bed

Not all gardens include fruits and vegetables. A garden can be anything that makes you happy. (which honestly should be the main goal)

Creating a space that you enjoy spending time in is what matters most. Design a space that makes sense for your lifestyle, climate, and needs and you’ll enjoy a special brand of backyard gardening.

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