Gardens come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. From small windowsill boxes to sprawling flower gardens or productive vegetable gardens there are many different types. Here is a list of some of the most productive, versatile or beneficial types of gardens. Many of the gardens outlined here can be adapted for either a small or a large space.
1 Vegetable Patch
The first entry on our list of types of gardens is potentially one of the most beneficial. Select the right varieties of fruit and vegetable for your climate and the vegetable patch is one of the most reliable types of gardens you can create. With just a little research and planning it will provide you with fresh food throughout the year. For example, while tomatoes and lettuce will provide you with fresh summer food, other vegetables such as chard and parsnips are ideal for a winter vegetable garden. A vegetable patch also looks ornamentally attractive.
A vegetable patch is also a versatile option. While growing enough food to feed a family can require lots of space with a little planning and work you can produce a stream of fresh food in even the smallest of spaces. Before planting take care to research what fruit and vegetables will work in the space that you have. Vertical growing as well as planting in pots and planters can help you to make the most of the space. In addition to a little planning, adopting a simple crop rotation system can reduce your workload and keep your soil healthy.
One of the more labor intensive types of gardens on our list, this is also one of the most rewarding. At a time when more and more people are becoming concerned with what they eat as well as the environment, growing your own food is a great way to both eat healthily and reduce your carbon footprint.
Growing your own fruit and veg is increasingly popular.
2 Herb Garden
Planted on its own or as a complement to a vegetable patch, the herb garden can have both culinary and medicinal benefits as well as ornamental interest. Once a source of ingredients for home remedies, today they are primarily planted to provide fresh cooking ingredients. If you want to start your own herb garden, this is a good guide.
Some of the most popular herbs include:
Flowers such as marigolds also play a role in these types of gardens. Not only are they good companion and trap plants, helping to protect your herbs from pests they can also help to enhance the growth and flavor of some herbs. If space is at a premium a small window box filled with herbs can be surprisingly productive.
Even if it’s just a collection of pots a herbs can be surprisingly productive
3 Flower Garden
One of the most popular types of gardens, the flower garden comes in a range of styles from country garden types, which incorporate a host of different flowers of all shapes and sizes to more specific planting schemes such as a rose or tulip garden. In these, while the main focus is on the star plant, such as the rose, other plants are used to enhance the appeal and appearance of the flower bed.
Easy to grow and create these are often evolving spaces. All you need to do is plant some flowers that you like. Once you learn how to care for some of the easier types of flower, such as marigolds and zinnias, you can branch out to more exotic specimens.
These types of gardens are a great way to improve the visual attraction or aesthetic appeal of an outdoor space as well as introduce lots of color. With a little careful planning you can plant a range of plants that flower at different times of the year, providing your outside space with year round interest.
Flower beds can be filled with color.
4 Container Garden
If you don’t have the space to plant a flower garden, or if your soil is poor, a container garden is a great way to grow your own flowers or vegetables. As well as pots you can use tubs, barrels or anything that can safely hold soil. Just make sure your chosen container has some drainage holes in the bottom.
A small container garden is a great way to decorate a patio or porch. Containers and planters are also a good low maintenance choice for people with limited time or mobility. As well as flowers, many fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers are suitable for growing in pots. Similar to containers, hanging baskets can also be used to add height and further interest.
Containers are a versatile option.
5 Indoor Garden
Houseplants are increasingly popular for people who don’t have any outdoor space as well as for those living in difficult growing climates such as cold areas. Here, these types of gardens enable you to enjoy the process of growing plants.
A versatile option, some people like to create a gardening area, using purpose built indoor gardening beds filled with soil, while others find just as much satisfaction with a houseplant collection. While there are many suitable houseplants, a myriad of outdoor plants are also suitable for indoor cultivation.
Hydroponics and aquaponics or water types of gardens are increasingly popular alternatives to the traditional soil garden. Both are ideal for indoor growing.
Colorful and exotic, orchids are a popular choice for indoor gardeners.
6 Community Garden
Increasingly popular, community gardens enable people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to share their knowledge and grow flowers and vegetables. An ideal way to build a community and learn a new skill, everyone who participates is also allowed to take a share of the food produced while some schemes donate the produce to local food banks.
Community gardens are ideal for people who want to participate in gardening but don’t have the time to dedicate to full time cultivation. A great learning space for novice and nervous gardeners, communal types of gardens are also great for people residing in complexes that don’t have any outdoor space.
Like community types of gardens, an allotment is a good way to have your own patch of earth while still being surrounded by fellow gardeners, many of whom are happy to share their time and advice.
Gardening is proven to be a great way to relax and reduce stress levels. Taking part in a community garden is also a good way to reach out and make new friends.
Community projects are a great way to learn and share knowledge.
7 Raised Garden
Raised types of gardens are ideal for people with poor soil. They are also a good solution if your soil is too heavy or sandy to plant in or will require a lot of enrichment to improve it. Finally, raised types are a good alternative if disease is present in your soil. If you want to check the condition of your soil, a soil test kit is both easy to use and affordable.
To create a raised garden, simply lay a platform on top of your soil, leveling it out if necessary before constructing planters. Once built, simply fill the raised garden with homemade compost and fresh fertile soil.
Depending on the plants you want to grow you may need to use soil with a certain pH balance however good garden soil or general purpose compost can be used for most purposes. Once filled simply plant and care for your plants as you would in the ground.
Elevating your growing space is a good way to improve access and combat poor soil.
A greenhouse provides a reliable way to control the temperature around your plants, helping you to increase productivity and efficiency. In cooler climates they are ideal for gardeners who want to grow a range of warm weather or tropical plants or extend their growing season. You can grow plants in a greenhouse long before the soil outside thaws and continue growing well into winter. A greenhouse heater allows you to grow your plants throughout the year.
A large greenhouse can be expensive but for the serious gardener it is a worthwhile investment. For beginners or those wanting to experiment with the process you can buy a mini greenhouse, which is a lot more affordable. An unheated greenhouse can also be used as a cold frame for hardening off young specimens and protecting vulnerable plants from pests.
In poor climates, growing undercover is a great solution.
With many areas experiencing less rainfall than in previous years, drought tolerant plants are slowly becoming more important. Known as xeriscape planting, these types of gardens are designed to be as drought tolerant as possible. Suitable for a range of climates and conditions including rocky soil, extreme sun and heat exposure, slopes and harsh winds the xeriscape planting scheme is more than just succulents and ornamental grasses.
As well as succulents and lavender many traditional cottage garden plants such as sedums and dianthus are also surprisingly drought tolerant. We have compiled a list of the best plants for a xeriscape planting scheme if you want to explore this style further. While grass requires lots of water to stay lush and green, mulching the soil, pavers and colorful blocks of gravel can all add texture and interest to compliment the planting scheme.
A stark contrast to the lush, green types of gardens, a xeriscape planting scheme can be just as interesting and filled with life.
While grass struggles in xeriscape schemes, stone paths can add texture and contrast.
10 Botanical Garden
The purpose of a botanical garden is to showcase and cultivate as many different plants as possible. Often a commercial or state run enterprise these types of gardens require specialist knowledge. However, many are open for tours by the public.
Visiting a botanical garden is the best way to experience a large range of plants and species that you may not be able to grow in your area without expensive, specialist equipment. A great way to get some inspiration or simply renew your interest in gardening, botanical types of gardens require lots of time, money and knowledge to properly maintain. Spending time in one, whether it is just enjoying the flowers or asking questions and volunteering is a great way to increase your knowledge or start a career in horticulture.
Botanicals are a great place to experience exotic plants.
11 Sensory Garden
Sensory types of gardens are designed to appeal to all the senses. This is achieved by combining a range of plants, structures and other features with the aim of creating a calming or therapeutic space. If done correctly these types of gardens can create a stress-free sanctuary, helping people to come to terms with mental health issues or cope with physical disabilities.
Wind chimes and ornamental grasses can be used to add sound, as can water features. Along with textured plants such as sticky hostas or resilient succulents a water feature also gives the visitor something to physically interact with. Aromatic plants, particularly herbs such as mint or lavender, fill the air with a pleasing aroma, as well as providing an edible section. You can also incorporate fruit trees or strawberry plants. Finally, a sensory space needs to provide visual interest. Trailing plants, trellising and hanging baskets can all add to the visual interest as can colorful flowers such as zinnias, red hot pokers and cyclamens.
Designed to appeal to as many of the senses as possible a sensory or therapeutic garden works by stimulating and engaging the visitor with their surroundings. By using a range of plants as well as elements of soft structure such as art, water features and seating areas, these spaces bring a range of benefits to the visitor.
12 Mediterranean Garden
Mediterranean types of gardens are ideal for areas that enjoy warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Drought tolerant plants are the star here. Thriving in the warm conditions the plants used in these schemes can be complimented by a variety of features. Pergolas which provide shade can be softened by climbing vines. Terracotta planters, or terracotta colored planters and water features are also common.
Popular Mediterranean plants include aromatic herbs, olive trees, citrus plants and oleander. Agapanthus is another hardy, reliable choice while in warmer climates palms can also be used. Not the most vibrant entry on our types of gardens list, the color pallete of a Mediterranean planting scheme can appear muted. However, the texture and aroma of the plants makes up for this. Mediterranean types of gardens are also popular with pollinators, these help to add life to the space.
When planted correctly this is a soothing, low maintenance space. For more on creating your own slice of the Mediterranean, check out our in depth guide.
Citrus fruits are a key Mediterranean plant.
13 Tropical Garden
These types of gardens are places of serenity. Filled with palms and other tall plants, you don’t need to live in a warm or tropical area to create a tropical garden, as our guide to growing tropical plants shows.
The key to these types of gardens is layering. While palms add height, other plants such as frangipani, philodendron, flowering ginger and hibiscus fill the spaces closer to the ground, adding color, texture and interest. Aiming to recreate natural jungles or rainforests, many of the key design principles of the tropical garden can be adapted for an outdoor space in any climate. However growers in cooler areas may have to settle for an annual collection.
Layering is a key element in the design of these types of gardens.
14 Water Garden
A truly unique entry on our list, starting a water garden allows you to explore a new world of possibilities. Basic water gardens can simply be a hollowed out stone or small bucket, growing in size and complexity to large ponds and water courses filled with flowers and fish. With these types of gardens, the possibilities are endless.
As with all our types of gardens, take the time to do your research before starting your water garden. One of the more expensive suggestions on our list, it may be best to start with a small water barrel or pond, gaining knowledge and experience before working your way up to a full scale pond and fountain.
Whatever size your water garden may be, when done correctly they are a great way to create a soothing outdoor space.
Introducing water can add a soothing element to a space.
Originally designed to mimic an alpine landscape, rock gardens are increasingly popular and diverse. Today you can find rockeries that along with the standard alpine plants also utilize rock sculptures and landscaping timbers to add interest and design.
Ideal for spaces of any size, these types of gardens are great for showcasing smaller plants such as:
- Pasque flowers,
- Hens and Chicks,
- Shasta daisies,
In these types of gardens, the type of rock that you use is key. While you can start with rocks already in your garden, depending on the size of your rockery you may need to look further afield. Construction sites, quarries and farms are good sources of, often free, unwanted rocks.
If you are aiming to create a certain look you will need to choose your stones carefully. Sandstone is a popular choice because it is not too alkaline and softer than granite. Meanwhile limestone rocks add a natural feel to the area. Don’t forget to use rocks of different shapes and sizes to soften the appearance and create a natural look. You can even incorporate flat Painting Rocks to personalize the space. If you want more rockery ideas, check out our article here.
Rockeries provide a great way to showcase flowers and succulents.
16 Patio Garden
A popular, low maintenance choice, a patio garden provides you with a versatile outdoor space. From somewhere to sit and enjoy the great outdoors or socialize with friends around a fire pit to a fully functioning outdoor workspace or work out area, the patio does it all.
While a patio garden may not seem as visually interesting as some of the other types of gardens on our list, there are lots of ways to enliven the space from your choice of flooring to the furniture and plants that you use. Providing a safe place to relax or work out, for people with mobility issues a flat patio provides a safe way to access the outdoors. You can also add pots or planters to the edges of your patio. When filled with low maintenance plants these are a great way to add interest and color to a space.
A patio is a versatile space.
17 Succulent Garden
Another of the more versatile types of gardens on our list, succulents provide exotic, eye-catching interest. A versatile plant, when planted in a rock garden succulents add long lasting interest. Alternatively, you can showcase your succulents in some pots and planters. For an indoor display, you can even plant succulents in a terrarium.
A popular low maintenance choice, most succulents are not only tough and resilient but also thrive on neglect. As long as you take the time to get the planting right at the start, (in particular using light, well draining or cactus soil) these plants need little encouragement to thrive. In return for just a little regular care a succulent collection provides you with long lasting exotic interest.
A small pot can become home to a fascinating collection of succulents.
18 Fairy Garden
Popular with children, the fairy garden is another of our types of gardens that come in a range of shapes and sizes. From large forests to small flower pots, with a little imagination you can create a wonderful fairy garden. An old tree stump is ideal for creating the entrance to a magical fairy world. Lavender, wood sorrel, polka-dot plants as well as mosses and ferns are all ideal choices to add color and texture as are other materials such as pebbles, sand and seashells.
This is a popular choice if you are entertaining small children.
19 Ornamental Grass
Providing year round interest, ornamental grass types of gardens are full and lush during the late spring and summer months. In the fall, while other plants fade, ornamental grasses provide rich colorful displays and texture. In certain climates, these displays can last throughout the winter.
An established ornamental grass area is also low maintenance, largely diseases resistant and drought tolerant. There is also a lot of variety. Purple fountain grass is a great way to add soft texture and movement, while pampas grass brigns majestic elegance. Smaller fountain grasses, sedges and feather grass also introduce texture and color.
As well as being stars in their own right you can also use ornamental grasses to soften architectural features or buildings, provide subtle green backdrops to showcase other plants against or simply create a soft hedge.
Ornamental grass adds color and soft structure to a space.
20 Butterfly Garden
A butterfly garden is not just for butterflies. Filled with colorful plants, these spaces draw a host of beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, and pollinators to your garden.
Like many of the types of gardens on our list, a butterfly garden can be as small or as big as you like. As long as you select the right plants a small window box can be just as effective as a larger space. Good plant choices include:
- Butterfly Bush,
- Sea Holly,
- Joe Pye Weed,
- Floss flower.
These not only attract butterflies but also other pollinators and beneficial insects, helping to pollinate other plants as well as keeping harmful insects, such as aphids, at bay. In short, these types of gardens are not only colorful, they also benefit insects and the local environment. Popular with children and adults alike, if you have the room to spare, why not go a little further and encourage a range of insects to visit your garden with a bug hotel?
Butterfly gardens benefit a range of insects.
As you can see from our list, the garden comes in a range of shapes, styles and sizes. While the types of gardens outlined above are all good ideas there are no hard and fast rules. You can follow one style or create your own garden, combining two or more of our suggestions. For example, planting an ornamental grass garden around a patio garden can help to increase privacy while using raised planters on a patio may allow you to grow your own food or create a cut flower garden. Whatever you choose to do, enjoying your outdoor space is one of the most beneficial things that you can do.