8 ways to create your French garden for 2020-2021


Classic French gardens try to preserve a harmony between nature, architecture and art. Follow these eight steps and you'll be on your way to creating a beautiful, timeless, and elegant French garden!

Topiary driveway French mansion

One – Adopt a French garden style that suits your space and climate

France has many climates and regions to draw inspiration from, so it is important to choose the right one for your area.

 

 The most renowned and photogenic French garden regions are:

The lush gardens of the Châteaux in the Loire Valley

Grand symmetrical parterres, avenues of lofty deciduous trees, and meticulously espaliered fruit trees are commonplace in the French gardens of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.

French chateau garden

Trimmed hedges border garden beds while extraordinary topiary art is celebrated.

French vegetable garden with purple cabbage

 Symmetry axis French garden design

Sun-drenched Provencal country gardens

The key elements of a French Provincial garden can be easily replicated. Typical plants include olive trees, slender cypress pines, lavender and rose bushes, and climbing wisteria and jasmine. Large country gardens in Provence will often have a vast lawn that meets a vineyard, lavender field, prairie or olive grove. Hardscaping also features in Provincial gardens – driveways, pathways and garden beds are often finished with river stone and pebbles.

Harscaping French garden design

Harscaping pea gravel paving French garden

 Butterfly on French lavender

Exotic cliff-side Mediterranean gardens of the French Riviera

Salty coastal Mediterranean gardens are planted with flowering cacti and slender palms as though they were sculptures. They frame the glistening Mediterranean waters and provide much needed shade in the summer months. As winters are mild, frost sensitive plants such as citrus can thrive.

Mediterranean garden

When selecting pots, ancient Biot jars are the most authentic choice and are found frequently in the coastal gardens of the Côte d'Azur. These clay jars were originally made for storing olives and oil, so they add an instant Mediterranean touch to any garden.

Antique biot oil jar Mediterranean garden

The shape itself is evocative of an olive and they can be mounted in a prominent position to ensure they are visible.

Antique French biot jar Mediterranean garden design ideas

French roses with antique Biot jar French garden design

Little garden lamps could be placed nearby to illuminate the jars to enjoy after sunset.

For further ideas we have wonderful collections of both classic antique olive jars and artisan made Biot jars.  

Antique French Biot Jar Mediterranean French garden design

Coastal gardens of Normandy and the Atlantic

The homes of Normandy will often feature thatched roofs or exposed timber frames on their facades – they are wonderfully cozy with inviting open fireplaces.

Thatched roof French garden Normandy

Garden under thatched roof Normandy French garden

As the walls are thick, there is plenty of space to accommodate a planter in the window bringing the outdoors in.

Blue hydrangeas en masse French garden design

The gardens along this rugged coastline receive plenty of rainfall - lush lawns and huge hydrangeas can thrive in the French gardens of Normandy.

Parisian style courtyards

Petite yet chic – Parisian courtyards call for evergreen topiaries in antique planters and gorgeous paving snugly set between ancient stone walls of this historic city famed for stunningly beautiful and well-kept gardens like the Tuileries, Luxembourg Gardens and Palatial grounds of Versaille.

Paris balcony pot plants

Small outdoor settings provide a nice place to enjoy a morning coffee or evening aperitif with friends.

Our collection of outdoor Antique French furniture includes small settings well suited to courtyards.  

 

Rooftop terraces – peid a terre

A rooftop terrace is a luxury worth making beautiful with pot plants and French garden furniture. A rooftop terrace is an essential retreat from busy city and village streets below.

Rooftop garden in Paris at Hermes

Geraniums will bloom all year round on a sunny terrace. A backdrop of potted trees and shrubs simply furnished with a bistro table, folding chairs and an umbrella is all that is needed to create a secluded getaway with unmistakable French flair. Throw cushions and a cozy blanket can be used in wintertime and breezy evenings.

Rooftop garden Paris

 

Choose the right region for you

When selecting which style is right for you, consider your space and sun exposure and aspect. It is important to understand the climate and what the equivalent zone is in France. A quick way of doing this is comparing the United States hardiness hardiness zones, which range from one to thirteen (coolest to warmest). 

Below are the comparable climate zones of regions in France:

Zone 8 - Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy and the Atlantic

Zone 9 - Provence, The French Riviera (Côte d'Azur)

 

Two – Design your garden around French architectural elements


Architectural elements such as stone walls, a fountain or swimming pool often feature in French gardens and are easy to incorporate into landscape design.
A swimming pool is frequently the centerpiece of a French garden, particularly in the South.

Swimming pool design French garden

Even in small courtyard gardens, plunge pools are commonplace and look stunning reflecting stone walls and plants. In large country gardens, swimming pools are paved with natural stone which meets lawn and flowering garden beds that can be bordered with low topiary hedges. Large garden pots such as Anduze urns look superb around a swimming pool.

French garden design ideas

Fountains tap into the natural water sources across France. Simple and elegant stone fountains and a brass faucet make a focal point and add a sensory layer to the garden design with the soothing sound of running water.

 

Antique French fountain four faucets octagonal

French stone fountain French garden

Smaller water features can be easily created with antique French stone basins & troughs

Antique French stone trough

A special sculpture can be simple statement that makes a big impact. 

Antique garden sculpture garden statue French garden

Use sculpture in the garden French garden design

Garden steps can also make a central architectural feature and are a lovely way to create true beauty in a garden.

French Garden Steps

The way that garden beds are shaped and planted will determine how people move through the garden – the circulation flow of the garden needs to provide places where sculpture or a view can be admired, or a quiet spot can be enjoyed. Outdoor rooms can be created through vertical planting to create screens while hedges and pairs can mark a threshold from one space to another.

Garden lighting can be used to enhance architectural elements and large trees so that they can be seen at night. 

Using antique French lanterns can further add a French feel to your night garden.  

Classic French topiary French garden design ideas

Three – Plant trees en masse

Rhythm and structure can be added to a garden with repetitive planting. Avenues of plane trees, olive trees and cypress are typical of French gardens, particularly in Provence.

Symmetry in the garden hornbeams and lawn French garden design ideas

Think of creating a visual axis that may frame a certain view or natural landmark. A combination of evergreen and deciduous trees will add interest and color throughout the seasons well into fall.

Deciduous trees are pruned hard in French gardens and their healthy branches are of course exposed during winter which is most attractive – this kind of pruning and training is an art in France.


Four – Select French planters

Choose from a large range of French garden planters that will add a French touch to your garden, terrace or courtyard. Cast iron Medici urns are classic and timeless and often have handles which makes it possible to move them around the garden or enjoy blooms indoors.

Our classic French medici garden urns are carefully curated throughout France. 

Anduze urns hardscaping French garden

Anduze urns, adorned with floral gardens have been handmade since the eighteenth-century using terracotta and green and yellow glazes. They were traditionally planted with citrus trees – before planting lemons, limes, oranges or kumquats be sure to check what will work in your climate or be prepared to shelter them in a glasshouse over winter. 

Depending on your desired style and finish you may prefer selecting either antique Anduze urns or artisan made Anduze urns.    

Antique French Anduze garden urns French garden design

Antique and vintage pots planted with greenery is a lovely way to create a focal point in your garden or to highlight architectural features such as a doorway or garden gate. The great thing about un-glazed garden planters is that they will develop their own patina as they are weathered over the years.

Here is a general selection of antique French garden urns and planters

Terra cotta pots beside doorway French garden design

You can promote the growth of mosses by mixing moss with milk then painting it onto the planter. Moisture is key, so you may even be able to redirect a water sprinkler to reach the pots regularly.


Five – Fill your planters with shrubs and climbers


French garden planters can be enjoyed from indoors if placed on windowsills. Large collections of terracotta pots planted with boxwood topiaries makes a great impact in a courtyard or terraced area.

Small French garden ideas gravel wisteria vine

Typical French climbers include grape vines (muscat is a tasty variety), colorful bougainvillea with fuchsia and burgundy flowers (in Mediterranean gardens), scented star Jasmine, and ivy.

Climbing plants over trellis pergola French garden

The climbers can be trained on wire and trellises to cover walls and provide vertical greenery where space is limited. French shrubs include lavender, hydrangeas, rosemary and seaside daisies for a French cottage touch.

Boxwood does well in shady gardens and the planning and maintenance are well worth the effort for a stunning lush display. Symmetry and axes are classic design features in traditional French gardens. Even if your outdoor space is petite, a few potted boxwood plants, carefully arranged will make a big statement and help to frame the space.

boxwood hedge geometric garden French garden

Determining circulation paths and access points is the easiest way to start planning your garden layout, then it becomes simple to place statement plantings.

French garden path

When there is a view it can be framed with intentional plantings that will accentuate the view and direct the eye.

French Garden with a mountain view

Six – Carefully select French garden furniture to compliment your architecture

French garden furniture is sought after for its quality craftsmanship, classic design and durability. Arras furniture is from the North of France and is made with wrought iron. The feet are the trademark with either hoofs or claws and this provides an indication of the age.

French wrought iron garden furniture French garden

Simple garden wall fountain French garden design

Bistro tables with marble or alabaster tops and cast-iron bases are compact while being weighty enough to withstand strong winds. They are evocative of sidewalks full of diners in cafes and bistros from Paris, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence to Marseille. Faux bois furniture is an attractive choice if you are looking for a natural modern aesthetic as it is made with cement in the shape and form of tree trunks and branches with bark.

Faux bois garden armchairs French garden furniture

The rough texture encourages mosses to grow when left out in the elements. It is extremely heavy garden furniture so it is better to leave it in one spot where you know it will be well used – for instance, under the shade of a tree, or on pea gravel look out to a view.

Our antique French outdoor table collection includes iron, marble, zinc, granite and faux bois table tops in a range of styles and sizes. 


Seven – Decorate your garden with beautiful pieces

Collecting is a lifetime passion that will change as your garden spaces evolve and your trees and plants become more established. Copper and zinc watering cans bring a rustic country feel to a garden space and they look fabulous when displayed as a collection. It is possible to find eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century watering cans in all kinds of interesting shapes and designs. The very old models have great big heads which are almost like a blooming flower in their own sculptural way.

Explore our rustic antique French watering cans here. 

collection of antique french watering cans

Garden sculptures are also lovely to collect. Sculptures of animals add a fun touch while figurative sculptures are more formal and can be displayed differently. These mossy antique garden swans look gorgeous as they are or overflowing with spring flowers (note the faux bois table).

Antique French swan garden planters faux bois table

We have an eclectic collection of original and interesting French antique garden sculptures here.

Eight – Enjoy living and entertaining in your garden


The French enjoy spending time in their gardens – it is part of la vie quotidien.
Relaxing by the swimming pool or reading under a tree are moments to savor and enjoy together. An afternoon siesta on a comfortable sun lounge is the ultimate ritual!

outdoor dining french garden


Most meals during the summer months are enjoyed together outdoors in the garden. Colorful tablecloths from the weekly markets add color to an outdoor tablescape. Fresh cut floral bouquets make a lovely centerpiece and echo the surrounding garden.

French garden terrace


Warm evenings are spent outdoors by candlelight enveloped in sweet wafting perfume from wisteria, jasmine and lavender. A glittering swimming pool will tempt guests to take a late-night dip.

Terrace beside pool classic French garden


Harvesting flowers and home-grown fruit and vegetables is such a satisfying task. They make a special gift for friends that are always well received.

French roses

 Using olive trees French garden design

 Fountain French garden hardscaping plane tree cypress pine

 

 

Image credit: Chez Pluie Provence, La Paternelle by Kirsten Honeyman, Chateau Mireille Saint Remy de Provence, Brooke & Steve Giannetti Patina Farm, Cote Maison, Southern Living, Le Domaine d’Ablon, Pinterest.

Explore our collection of French garden furniture and planters here

 

Explore our exquisite collection of French garden decor and add French flair to your garden. 

French biot jars olive jars for sale buy online from France fast shipping to United States

Our timeless biot jars are handmade-to-order in France

Bespoke French pottery handmade Anduze urn made in France delivered to United States

Our classic Anduze urns are handmade by artisans in Anduze

 

 

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5 comments


  • Dell Stone

    Delightful and inspiring reading, so romantic the French influence, whether
    old or new, one of the few styles where very old and worn looks beautiful.
    So lovely.


  • Dawid

    Awesome, best ideas for french look an garden


  • Nancy Brantley

    What is name of climbing rose? Thanks


  • Susannah Cameron

    Many thanks Kirsten for your kind comments and reference. Yours sincerely, Susannah Cameron


  • Kirsten Hoenyman

    Wonderful images and commentary on French garden style! I notice you used my photograph of the charming garden at La Paternelle. Please provide a link in the photo or caption to this original content in case your readers would like to know more about the garden: http://www.ladolcevitacalifornia.com/2014/01/translations-creating-wonderful-whimsey.html Merci!


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