Mediterranean Garden Ideas

The Mediterranean climate of warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters is not confined to the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but is present along the California coast, in Chile, in southwestern Australia, and the western part of South Africa, notes Heidi Gildemeister writing for the Mediterranean Garden Society. In these areas, the traditional Mediterranean garden with its fan palms and olive trees is endemic to the landscape, but gardens in more northern climates can capture the style's essence. The prerequisite for a Mediterranean garden in any location is full sun and well-drained soil.

Patio Garden

Edge the contours of your patio with grayish-silver plants such as artemesia and lamb's ear (Stachys) interspersed with purple salvias and blue oat grass (Helictotrichon) evoking a Mediterranean feel. Creeping thyme (Thymus) will spread between the patio bricks. These perennials are hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zones 3 and 4. Maureen Gilmer of Learn to suggests planting kumquat (Fortunella margarita) and Meyer lemon trees (Citrus limon Meyer) in terra cotta pots. If you live in USDA Zone 9 or warmer, these plants will be hardy; otherwise, you will need to bring them inside for the winter.

Front Yard

Should you wish to transform your front yard into a Mediterranean landscape, remove the lawn and install a rockery complete with large, decorative rocks. Add a gravel path to the front door. In Mediterranean climates, use agaves, spurge (Euphorbia mellifera) and Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha). Other varieties of euphorbia, ground cover sedums and Russian sage (Perovskia) are cold-hardy substitutes for northern gardens. Use feather reed grass (Calamagrostis) and the blue oat grass for color and texture.

Island Planting

If you're not keen on removing your entire lawn, try creating an island of plants in the Mediterranean garden style. Use feather reed grasses, heaths (Erica), red hot poker (Knipfofia) and purple salvia. Plant blue catmint (Nepeta) and edge the borders with silver mound artemesias. If you live in USDA Zone 8 or warmer, add a Mediterranean fan palm for dramatic effect. Empty terra cotta urns can be placed in an island bed as a focal point. Nikki Phillips writing for Gardening Know How recommends using a mulch of light-colored gravel.

Garden Slope

A dry, sunny slope is the perfect canvas for a Mediterranean garden. Plant the tall, narrow Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) for a Mediterranean ambiance. If you live in an area cooler than the USDA Zone 7, substitute the Skyrocket juniper (Juniperus scopulorum Skyrocket). A USDA Zone 7 plant, bear's breeches (Acanthus mollis) has large leaves and pale pink flower spikes. According to Marty Wingate writing for, acanthus has a longstanding Mediterranean connection, having been depicted on ancient Greek columns. In cooler climates, substitute rugosa rose. Plant tall ornamental grasses and brightly colored red hot poker plants.


If an entire garden isn't feasible for your situation, try using container plants. A deck can serve as staging for your Mediterranean-style plants. Place terra cotta pots filled with aloes, small agaves and brightly colored geraniums on a rustic table. Fill large pots with bamboo, citrus and palms. Erect a pergola over part of the deck and plant grapes. A few pots of French lavender (Lavender stoechas) will lend fragrance to the area.

Keywords: Mediterranean gardens, Mediterranean climates, Mediterranean plants

About this Author

Janet Belding has been writing for 22 years. She has had nonfiction pieces published in "The Boston Globe," "The Cape Cod Times," and other local publications. She is a writer for the guidebook "Cape Cod Pride Pages." Her fiction has been published in "Glimmer Train Stories." She has a degree in English from the University of Vermont.