System Pavers Outdoor Lifestyle Blog

System Pavers is the leader in outdoor living

Design Book: English Gardens

Design Book: English Gardens

Mar 01 2015

March 2015 Design Book
decorative separator

King and queens with bold personalities wearing rich silks and velvets, seated in rooms of rich tapestries and enjoying the lush landscape of castles are some of the reasons why designers and homeowners are drawn to the designs of English gardens. Historical television shows such as The Tudors, Reign, Game of Thrones and even Downton Abbey provide inspiration for beautiful, regal and refined gardens.

English concept gardens suit yards of all sizes from petite, intimate spaces to sprawling landscapes. Part of the English garden's charm is its mix of standard shapes with artistic details which complement a variety of different styles from modern to traditional. The most prominent features of English gardens are the symmetric, manicured details and the simple use of colors and geometric designs. When used as inspiration, such as for this project, English gardens, balance the elegance of nature, the symmetry of design and the sounds of nature whether birds or the sounds of water.

decorative separator

Inspirational Element: Formal English Garden

elegant garden full of color ideas

Sometimes defining a design element is as simple as considering what you have as the inspiring design feature. With this existing space it was a hop, skip, and a jump to create a more formal English garden look with the starting point of a rustic English Garden.

So often we forget that we have the beginnings of great design right under our noses. Instead of looking outside, look first at what you have, and how you could alter that to get the atmosphere that you are after. This way you can get the ideal look and feel without changing your existing space too much. When you cut down on design and building/ planting time, you make it possible to enjoy the space in less time than a complete redesign would require.

decorative separator
color swatches

Designers looking at the types of plants and flowers they want for their English garden should keep in mind both scents and colors. The English garden retains a degree of formality with its cropped hedges and linear lawn pathways, but gardeners let their imagination roam with their choice of colors and smells. Select colors and herbs that appeal to the senses, but don't overpower the rest of the garden.

  • Gardeners have the freedom to choose their favorite colors and mix them powerfully to create their ultimate English garden. Purples, yellows, reds and other strong colors find their homes in these gardens. However, when planting the flowers, keep them under control with a picket fence or a hedge. The simple addition of these tools brings back the stateliness of the garden without detracting from the flowers' vibrancy.
  • Roses and certain herbs add pleasant scents to the English garden. Separate them from other flowering plants or mix them with complementary buds, but make sure to avoid planting flowers with competing smells. Too many scented plants mix strangely and only serve to confuse the senses.
colorful garden of flowers
decorative separator

Existing Canvas

getting ideas from a water fountain

In this existing canvas, the design team found a beginning point to transfer its rustic look into a more formal and pleasing vista. Repeating the natural feel and geometry in the final design made it easy for the owner to transition into their new upgraded space. Easy to maintain and pleasing to the eye, they can now enjoy the scent and color of their English garden.


decorative separator

Design Influencers

Lines and Symmetry

Etch out a concept English garden with geometric shapes along with symmetrical features. Curves work for stone or rock paths, but rigid planter boxes and straight lawn walkways draw the eye to the garden's focal points. The use of symmetry and straight lines in English gardens emphasize the careful organization of the garden and minimizes any sense of chaos.

  • Work on establishing symmetry with color as well as shapes. Though the English garden promotes the use of strong and vibrant colors, they still need to match with the other features. Add matching stone ornaments to increase the sense of balance within the space.
  • Winding paths, a well-known highlight of English gardens, can break the line and symmetry rule. These paths weave around trees and plants.

looking at geometric patterns in a walkway

Plants and Flowers

Picking the right array of plants is one of the most important gardening choices in an English garden. Although the designer has free reign to use many types of vibrant flowers in the garden, the placement of other hedges and plants needs to be taken into consideration. While there are plenty of great traditional plants to include in an English garden, a designer can elect to plant unorthodox plants in their English garden for a less traditional twist.

  • For a traditional English garden plant, choose boxwood. Trim boxwood for a distinct shape that fits with the symmetry of the garden, or allow the plant to grow on its own for a more naturalistic feel. Another bonus of the boxwood plant is its deer resistance, so gardeners don't have to worry about the animals invading their outdoor space.
  • Designers opt for many different types of flowers for their English garden. Vines, shrubs, annuals and perennials all fit into this concept garden with ease, since the design allows for creativity and serves to promote a more natural atmosphere. Still, designers should focus on symmetry between plants and flowers, especially if they line a straight or curving path. Too many varying plants along a walkway can cause imbalance.
  • Group flowering plants into small clumps. Wandering vines and other shrubbery make the garden look messy and at odds with symmetrical, formalized borders. Planting them in clumps gives gardeners a chance to control them.

colorful plants and flowers

Hardscapes and Materials

Another major focal point of the English garden is the selection of hardscapes, or non-plant features. Gazebos and arbors fit well in a larger English garden, whereas smaller features, such as obelisks, bring an old-fashioned feel to more space-constrained gardens. Choose hardscapes that fit the garden well in size and concept.

  • Certain hardscapes can both provide decoration and improve drainage in the garden. Short retaining walls hold soil in place, but its design can make it a focal point of the garden, rather than just a necessary piece.
  • Design a hardscape feature with material that reflects the home. Stone and brick are two materials that work best with an English garden, but symmetry with the home's materials is important for visual flow.
  • Place hardscape features alongside straight paths to draw attention to the path itself. Stone statues, like columns, inspire an antique sensation and add parallelism to the garden.
looking at hardscapes and non-plant features
decorative separator

Lifestyle Considerations

inspirational element ideas
inspirational element ideas
inspirational element ideas

This private space beckons one beyond the gate at the end of the path or invites you in as you approach from the other side, knowing that you have reached your destination. While this space is very much a transitional space where people move between places, one could easily add seating should you want to add a place to linger in the color and scent of the garden.

Easy to maintain the paved area asks for little upkeep while you can rotate the surrounding and center garden's flowers as the seasons change to suit your mood. Adding potted plants to the area can enhance the opportunity to color present - even in the colder months.

The space lends itself for use as a cocktail gathering spot in early evening, with soft lighting and music to enhance the formal, yet relaxed feel of the contemporary English Garden.

decorative separator

Bringing the Design to Life

starting point for hardscape inspiration

Starting with a less than a blank slate helps the System Pavers designers to transform your existing space easily into a more pleasing space. Adding formality with the pavers, while focusing on the geometry and shapes English gardens are known for, we could add small finishing touches to enhance the magic of the space.

decorative separator

Finishing Touches

outdoor seating ideas

Seating and Relaxation

The English garden lends itself spectacularly to entertaining. Simply add seating for tea time, and you have the perfect place to serve your guest light hors d'oeuvres.

cushions and fabrics as ideas

Cushions and Fabrics

Texture is as important as shape when creating the perfect English Garden feel. Adding cushions and throws to your formal wrought iron furniture will enhance the feel of this space while allowing you to pick up the natural colors of the flowers and plants. A splash of white and pink could soften the feel of the landscape or introduce reds and oranges to add warmth to the chill of the evening air. {Photo Credit:}

evening lighting ideas

Evening Lighting

There are so many options of garden lighting available that one can have fun finishing your outdoor space. Create both illumination and atmosphere at the flick of a switch or install solar lighting to showcase your green side and wow your guests with the soft lighting of strategically placed lamps in the garden. In the specific space, the garden gate/trellis is the ideal place to add fairy lighting and some magic in the evening.

potted plant color ideas

Potted Plants

A few ornate and geometrically matched pots can add the final touch top this space, making it easy to keep the look fresh and always have splashes of seasonal color available to brighten the landscape. Whether you choose large or small pots in earthenware or more formal plaster or metal, always remember to you are completing a picture. Choose carefully and enjoy how your outdoor comes into its own when you add your special touch.

Outdoor gardeners and landscapers consider the English garden as structure mixed with natural, colorful ideas. It's the perfect garden for those who admire formality, as well as the opportunity to express their personalities. Keep in mind the English garden standards to get started on a landscaping and gardening adventure.

Contact System Pavers today for a
consultation to transform your outdoor space.

Photo Credits


Related Posts

How to Setup Your Outdoor Space for Holiday Gatherings
12/6/2019 2:35 PM | System Pavers
4 Reasons to Start your Outdoor Remodel During Winter
12/6/2019 11:26 AM | System Pavers
Understanding the 3 "Scapes" of Outdoor Design
11/19/2019 1:22 PM | System Pavers
How to Host the Ultimate Backyard Thanksgiving Gathering
11/13/2019 2:36 PM | System Pavers
3 Fire Features to Consider this Fall
11/12/2019 7:56 AM | System Pavers
4 Key Benefits of Installing Outdoor Lighting
10/15/2019 10:05 AM | System Pavers
Fall Outdoor Living
10/2/2019 10:43 AM | System Pavers
Celebrating National Family Day
9/18/2019 12:06 PM | System Pavers
How to Choose the Right Size BBQ Island
9/11/2019 10:06 AM | System Pavers
The Benefits of Pavers Over Other Materials
8/21/2019 7:46 AM | System Pavers