Formal vs. Informal Flowerbed Design | The Best Gardening

Formal vs. informal flowerbed design

Formal flower bed – geometric patterns and shapes, repetition in planting.

There are seemingly limitless options for flower garden designs because of the vast variety of plant material and all the various plant combinations that could be derived from such an extensive pallet, let alone the variation in the layout of your property. Sometimes this amount of variety can be a little intimidating to flower gardeners especially if you’re new at it. Despite all this variety there are two major flowerbed design categories that can help focus a designer’s attentions and narrow down the options.

Flowerbeds are either formal or informal. Formal flowerbeds are considerably more orderly or rigid in their design. What I mean by that is they employ geometric shapes with defined lines of vegetation that are readily identifiable by passers by.

Often the shape of the flowerbed itself is in a well-defined geometric pattern. Formal gardens use symmetry and repetition. Informal flowerbeds are the reverse: they are far less orderly and more loose in structure. Informal flowerbeds have a far more natural look to them; they seek to imitate nature through avoiding specific patterns.

Informal flowerbed – blowsy and cottage-like.

To the left is an example of a more formal flower garden: notice the repetition in plant material and the pattern in which they are placed in the planter beds.

Informal flowerbed – but it still requires good planning to look pleasantly informal and not chaotic.

Here’s an example of an informal flowerbed: notice how there doesn’t seem to be any discernible patterns; everything has a general appearance of randomness (even though it’s actually well-planned so it doesn’t look chaotic).

Whether or not you decide to do a formal or informal flowerbed design depends on your personal tastes and the mood you are trying to create for your outdoor rooms, or in other words, the different spaces in your yard. With their ‘proper’ or ‘official’ look, formal gardens create a mood of respect or reverence for authority; they encourage maturity and deference. Informal gardens create a mood of easiness or relaxation; they encourage a leisurely social atmosphere and a place where one can unwind.

About John

Gardening for life, liberty, and happiness. I enjoy being with my wife and family; mowing the lawn; working in the garden; eating (I love food... what can I say?); studying business, gardening, and other subjects; and experiencing all the amazing things life has to offer us.

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