How To Create A French Country Garden In Your Backyard

Home & Garden Blog

Are you tired of the same old landscaping in every yard in your neighborhood? Have you ever traveled to France or seen pictures of French gardens that made you yearn for something similar at home? Read on to learn how you can create a French country garden right in your own backyard.

Make It a Little Wild

Typical French gardens are considerably less manicured and more wild than those in the States. Because many gardens have evolved over hundreds of years, they have an organic feel that you need to capture to give your garden that true French look.

Eliminate hard lines, rectilinear pathways, and square beds. Instead, use meandering walkways, curved borders, and beds of plantings with uneven heights and widths. It can be more tricky than it seems to achieve the look of a long-established garden. A professional landscaper, such as found at, who has done this kind of garden before can help, even if it's just with planning and you do all the legwork and planting.

Use Less Grass

French gardens don't usually have large areas of lawn. Besides trees and planting beds, French country gardens have a lot of walking space, so owners can enjoy strolling there every day.

Try paths laid with small gravel, crushed seashells, old bricks, or stones for a realistic look. The bonus will be less maintenance for you and less water used as well.

Incorporate Small Hardscaping Elements

Another aspect of French country gardens is the presence of small hardscaping elements. Instead of big American patios, barbecues, and swimming pools, the French are fond of old brick or stone walls, fountains, rustic fireplaces, and benches for sitting and enjoying the garden atmosphere.

You can build wrought iron candle holders or lanterns into your walls for warmth and lighting after dark. Try a bistro table and chairs in one corner for a spot to eat en plein aire (in the open air). Resist the urge to make everything perfect and new--let your furniture weather, or better yet, buy vintage pieces that already have the patina of age.

Use Typical French Plantings

French plantings differ from many of the ones you see in the average American garden, but you can still easily find them in US nurseries and garden centers. Go for a mix of herbs, flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables--the French country garden is also very much about providing bounty for your own table.

Popular plants include

  • olive trees
  • fruit trees
  • nut trees
  • lavender
  • sage
  • poppies
  • roses

Most country gardens in France have a mix of subtle greens and silvers, with a bit of purple and soft pink. Accent colors, like red and yellow, are used sparingly for effect. Think of Impressionist paintings, and you can't go wrong.

The most important thing about having a French country garden is having fun with it. It should be a place to savor life and get in touch with nature. You can always experiment with a corner of your yard, and if you like it, expand to the rest. Before you know it, you will have the birds and butterflies flocking to your flowers, and your friends and family will think they have taken a trip to Giverny!


8 December 2014