Backyard Italian Gardens
Table of Contents
- Written by Holly Hughes on June 12, 2022
When you think of an Italian style backyard, what do you think of? Is it the symmetry of a row of manicured evergreens? Is it a citrus tree bordering an Italian courtyard complete with terracotta pots of fragrant herbs? Do you see stone statues dotted around Italian garden plants, recalling the country’s empiric history and classical tradition of art history?
All of the above are cornerstone features of an Italian style garden which celebrates order, symmetry and hardscape features like stone walls, water fountains, and classical statues.
And the good news is, you can create this at home! Bringing these features of Italian landscape design into your yard can be done by following these simple tips. Whether you only have a townhouse patio to work with or a sprawling country estate, here’s how to turn your outdoor space into a luscious and enviable Italian oasis.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a full backyard overhaul just yet, why not bring some of the Italian romance indoors with a special floral arrangement filled with some of Italy’s native blooms? Order from 1800 Flowersor FromYouFlowers for sensational options and fast delivery.
What do backyard Italian gardens look like?
First things first, let’s look at the fundamentals of Italian backyard landscaping ideas. Are there some rules to follow in creating the perfect outdoor space?
Yes, given that Italian plots are centered around a love of order, there are several basic principles that must be met to create an authentic garden of Italy.
Interestingly, one of the main characteristics of Italian gardens is its reliance on hardscape. While we often associate gardens with flower beds filled with all sorts of bright and vibrant flowers, Italian plots are more interested in non-living landscape elements.
What is hardscaping?
This is what hardscape means - the non-organic and living elements of a backyard like statues, water features, stone walls, patios, or courtyards. The opposite is, naturally, softscape, which comprises plants, trees, flowers, and grass, for example.
Thus, to create a Mediterranean backyard like one found in Italy, you must incorporate lots of hardscape elements, either augmenting what you already have in your garden - like a stucco wall - or adding in features where possible.
How to incorporate hardscape into your garden?
If you have the space, time, and money, consider a stone walkway to loop through and around your garden. Small Italian gardens often incorporate this kind of walkway using paved stones around their patio or courtyard area.
Similar toGreek-style gardens, arbors or pergolas are also popular hardscape elements in an Italian landscape. They are functional, providing shade or privacy, and also are the perfect way to incorporate some Mediterranean climbing plants if you want a softer look to your garden. Think evergreenclematis with its forest green foliage, bougainvillea, jasmine, orclimbing roses – again recalling classical Italian antiquity – for a romantic and shaded Mediterranean garden.
In general, any stonework you can bring into your garden – particularly light-colored stone or stucco – will bring an authentic Italian look to your space. Stepping stones, retaining walls, statuary, large stone urns, water fountains or features – get creative in sourcing stonework for a rustic Italian garden. Don’t forget to search garage sales, secondhand shops, and antique stores for some upcycled gems!
To complement your hardscape features, such as a courtyard or walkway, evergreens that are meticulously pruned into neat hedges and serve as edging or borders are integral to an Italian garden.
As ever, boxwood is a reliable and popular choice for Italian gardens as is wall germander. For columnar plants, Italian cypress shrubs offer a pleasing vertical dynamism, as do arborvitae (which is suited for colder climates).
The Italian garden’s love of structure and order means that most gardens prefer to plant in containers and pots for greater symmetry, restraint, and control. Terracotta pots in particular are firm favorites in an Italian garden. These can be filled with everything from your evergreen boxed hedges, herbs, flowering shrubs, or citrus trees.
The best thing about using terracotta pots to create an Italian garden is that they are perfect for gardeners with limited space. If you only have a balcony to work with or small townhouse patio, using terracotta pots filled with your favorite Mediterranean plants is a simple – and low-maintenance – option for a fragrant and ambient garden. To maximize your small garden space, read about how to optimize your balcony with planters or our tips for a showstopping townhouse backyard here.
Plants and herbs over flowers
As you might be beginning to notice, Italian gardens are not about bright and showstopping flowers (though potted geraniums in summer are always a winning feature in this themed garden).
Instead, these gardens champion simplicity and functional, ordered shrubbery. For this reason, herbs feature in abundance in Italian gardens and are more common than flowers. Planted in terracotta pots, herbs are the perfect addition to courtyards, patios or small Italian gardens. And, best of all, they can then be used in cooking to bring your garden into the kitchen with some authentic Italian cooking.
Courtyards and dining areas
A Mediterranean Italian courtyard garden is quintessential and proffers the chance for long al fresco dinners with friends and families. All Italian courtyard ideas adhere to the same principles of Italian landscape design – championing lots of stone usage, from screening walls to a paved patio and the ornamentation of statues.
Line your courtyard with terracotta pots filled with herbs and plants, use boxwood to border your courtyard and add in some cypress, fig, or citrus trees for added interest. Don’t forget to create lots of seating areas, the better to welcome people for an afternoon or evening of siesta and relaxation.
Don’t forget to crown your outdoor dining table with a beautiful floral arrangement of native Italian blooms. Choosing a monthly flower subscription like this one from BloomsyBox, will ensure your courtyard is crowned with fresh, seasonal bouquets every month!
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