Mediterranean Garden

Entrance in the style of southern Europe frames this Mediterranean estate in grand style.

If you have a Spanish style home or have selected Tuscan style interior decorating for your rooms, why not consider a Mediterranean Garden? Like the design style, these gardens are lush but welcoming.

Imagine looking out the window and seeing a grove of fruit trees or sitting in your yard with your morning coffee under a beautiful arbor, watching the sun rise.

Mediterranean Garden Characteristics

Mediterranean Gardens have an almost opulent feel to them, but they’re definitely far from formal. They combine straight lines and geometric layouts with simple, low key stonework, a charming mixture of all kinds of plants and flowers, and comfortable outdoor furniture that invites visitors to sit and enjoy the view a little while longer.

There are also variations within the category of Mediterranean gardens. You could try to evoke more of an Italian feel by using a small number of plants per bed to allow each specimen to really shine, using a lot of statuary, and relying on interesting shapes in trees and shrubbery to create a pleasing view.

Stone walls and planting beds give the Mediterranean garden a natural look, accented by flowers and plantings.

You could try a Greek garden, with large, ground level fountains or water features, stone steps planted with trimmed grass, and overgrown paths surrounded by lush ground cover. Or evoke a Spanish garden feel with lush blooms in reds and oranges, accented by some Spanish tile in the furnishings or hung as garden decorations.

As you can see, you have a lot of options within the category of Mediterranean gardens, so how do you know that you’ve got one? That’s a tough question. You might define Mediterranean gardens as plants that use native Mediterranean plants. This is a common definition. However, you could also define Mediterranean as a style. So a garden that mimics the style of Italian, Greek, or Spanish gardens would qualify.

Stonework defines the layout in many Mediterranean style gardens.

Mediterranean Garden Layout

  • You can integrate both straight lines and curved, meandering paths into a Mediterranean garden, so carefully consider what you want. Generally, eating and gathering areas are defined by geometric shapes, so you might consider a circular patio for eating, surrounded by twisting paths that ramble throughout the garden
  • Stone is a common feature of Mediterranean gardens. Pale, smooth stones are more common than rough hewn, rustic ones. Consider integrating stone into retaining walls, pathways, decorative elements, and furnishings
  • Another common material for pathways is brick. If you’re looking for more of a Mediterranean countryside feel, consider using brick pathways and allow the grass or groundcover to infiltrate between the cracks
  • Water is another important element in this style of gardening. You might decide to use a classical style fountain with moving water, or you may just integrate a long, low, flat water feature. Stone rimmed pools are very common features in Mediterranean gardens and they do a good job of filling long, narrow spaces

Plants to Use in a Mediterranean Garden

A floral wall adorns the aged terra cotta wall in this wonderful landscape design.

Mediterranean gardeners combine a variety of plant types in their gardens. It’s not uncommon to see flowers, herbs, fruit trees, and succulents all in the same garden. Certainly, if you want a traditional Mediterranean garden, you should stick to the plants that they use.

However, if these plants aren’t suited to your climate (and unless you live in California, they probably aren’t), does that mean that you’re going to have to pass your dream garden by in favor of something that is more suited to your area? Of course not. Some of the species favored by Mediterranean gardeners are still usable up to Zone 4, and you can use similar plants if necessary. If a grove of orange trees isn’t going to withstand the frost, try planting a grove of apple trees instead.

Some popular flower choices for a Mediterranean Garden include:

  • Cyprus
  • Euphorbia
  • Evergreen
  • Lavender
  • Myrtle
  • Oleander
  • Olive
  • Poppy
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Pools and other water features are a hallmark of the Mediterranean garden, keeping things cool and refreshing.

Mediterranean Garden Accessory Suggestions

  • Common furniture materials:
    • Wrought iron
    • Wood
  • Some accessory ideas to integrate into your Mediterranean Garden include:
    • Use a stone urn or birdbath as a focal point in a flower bed or a patio area
    • Mark the entrance to the garden or eating area with a pair of matched pillars. Consider topping them with trailing plants or garden globes
    • Use a trellis covered in climbing plants as a “wall” to section off an eating area

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