A formal garden is a neatly trimmed, geometric, and, often symmetrical garden. It relies on handsome garden accessories of a classic nature, such as a pair of large urns on either side of the door, planted identically. If there is a path, it is likely to lead to a finely crafted bench or a gazebo.
Massed ground covers, lines of trees or shrubs equidistantly planted along a long drive, and tidy lawns fit the scene. Well-kept evergreens such as boxwood are in keeping with formal style. Pavements for pathways and terraces may be of brick, stone, or concrete. Outdoor furniture is classic and looks more civilized than rustic. However, well-made modern furnishings and accessories can also be used in a formal manner. Whimsy is out -- no painted plywood cutouts allowed!
If this style seems too straight-laced for your taste, you might prefer to know what is allowed in an informal garden. Read about it on the next page as we continue our discussion of garden styles.