Posted By: Adrian Medina

What type of garden do you prefer? In this article we are explaining the differences between the formal and informal garden so you know which one fits you best.

Hedges trimmed or with little pruning? Flower beds or massifs? Natural or artificial borders?

When you start designing your own garden, you realize all the decisions you have to make. And it is not always easy. Sometimes you are not even sure how to get the whole set harmonious. Has it ever happened to you?

Being clear about the kind of garden you are looking for is the first step in designing it. Therefore, in this article we are telling you about the two main types of garden that exist: The formal and the informal ones.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading.


What is a formal garden?

This type of garden is perfect for those who love order, straight lines and geometric shapes. Those who feel a slight pleasure when they see a group of perfectly aligned hedges.

The formal garden is synonymous with balance. It is designed thinking in symmetry, patterns and proportion. In this type of gardens no element is hidden behind another.

When we talk about formal gardens, surely you think of those that surround large palaces like Versailles or Zarzuela. You are not very misled, since this type of design is called "French garden".

But do not worry. The basic principles of these gardens can be adapted to any space.

How to design a formal garden?

These are the most common characteristics of the French garden:


Symmetry is the main base. With it we get order, proportion and balance throughout the design.

In the classical garden, hedges, flower beds and paths are designed so that each side of the garden is a reflection of the other. Often, the central axis of the composition is a fountain or a pond, depending on the size we have.


The hedges create paths, divide the garden and delimit the different areas. They are pruned with straight cuts to form geometric figures.

For hedges of a formal garden, we will choose species with an orderly foliage or that can be trimmed in a habitual way. To maintain its neat appearance, will need to prune it often.

Flower beds

The flower beds offer colour to the composition, and are a classic of the great European gardens. In each group we will use flowers of one or two colours at most. What we are aiming for is elegance, not a messy explosion of tones.

Often the flower beds are delimited with borders. The materials most used to create them are brick, wood or gravel. If we prefer natural borders, we will choose low hedges that can be easily trimmed.

Gravel or stone paths

The classic formal garden is covered by gravel or slab paths, in which we often find mosaics or decorative figures. These paths are designed so that they respect the symmetry and straight lines of the full composition.


For those who want to feel as if they are walking through an authentic French palace. The topiary is the practice of pruning plants with artistic forms: Spheres, hearts, butterflies ... The most daring can even opt for animal figures.



What is an informal garden?

If you like nature's mess, this type of garden is for you. The informal garden offers us a relaxed appearance, a space in which plants grow freely.

But make no mistake: To create that apparent chaos from the informal garden, you need intense planning. Landscapers carefully choose the best species of plants to create that sense of disorder that makes us feel like in the middle of a forest.

The informal garden is very inspired by the prairies and English cottages. Ornamental grasses, irregular foliage bushes and different varieties of flowers prevail.



How to design an informal garden

The English garden offers a lot of freedom in its design. However, in most of them we can find these characteristics:



If we think of Britain, these endless green prairies come to mind right away. And that is what we want in our garden. Here the lawn will have a leading role.


Gravel or slab are also present in the informal garden. But here, we will find it in one or two curved paths that lead from the door to the house. These will often be bordered by groups of plants or by the same lawn.


In the massifs, plants are displayed as cluttered groups. A multitude of colours are included in each massif to give the feeling that they were born naturally.

With the massifs of an informal garden, we can let the plants grow freely, and even invade the path. And if we use borders, we will opt for irregular bushes that give the composition a wild touch.


Urban garden

In English gardens of this kind it is very common to dedicate a small area to grow edible plants. Often, the separation between the flower beds and the garden is done with natural borders, or simply there is no one.

Rustic appearance

Wooden furniture will give the final touch to our composition. Perfect to create a small space in which to enjoy our garden.

It is also common to include a wooden cabin.



For any type of garden, planning is the key. We should not sow a single plant without first having an idea of ​​the composition we are looking for.

The first step will always be to design a sketch, digital or on paper, to have a clear image of the garden we want to create. Next, it will be time to choose the plants that best fit our idea. Only then can we start thinking about the details, such as the colour combinations we want to create with the flowers.

To make this whole previous process easier for you, at Viveros González we use a 3D modelling software. This way, we can show you the final look your garden will have. Thus, you have the peace of mind that the design will be tailored to your needs.


Which one do you prefer? Formal or informal garden? Tell us in the comments.


Leave your comment