A formal garden is usually either square or rectangular in shape. It is designed with entrances at one or more corners, or at the center of the sides. As you step into the garden, you can see that the walkways and vegetation on one side look exactly like the walkways and vegetation on the other. This mirrored effect gives the garden balance and symmetry.
The moment you step into the box shape of a formal garden, your eye will be drawn to the center, where there may be a fountain or gazebo. The ground is usually flat.
Trees and Shrubs
Perfectly manicured hedges, like boxwood, can create side borders. Short hedges can be planted to create geometric or mazelike designs along grass walkways. Tall arborvitaes can be spaced along the borders to create a sense of enclosure and add privacy. Trees that grow tall but do not expand much, like columnar hornbeam, give a touch of elegance along a walkway or driveway.
The green of grass, shrubs and trees is the primary color in a formal garden. Indigenous flowers can be added. You should mirror the flower of choice on each side of the garden: Plant red tulips in a circle of boxwood shrubs, and repeat that in the mirror location on the opposite side of the garden.
Walkways can be made of grass, cement, granite, brick or pebbles. They may be straight, gently curving or a combination of both, but should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side.
Structures and Art
Place a large fountain or a hexagon-shaped gazebo in the center of the garden. Concrete benches can be placed periodically along a walkway or along the perimeter of the garden. Tall statues of ancient figures, like Greek goddesses, can flank the edges of the garden. The statues shouldn't match, but if you place a statue on one side, place another statue of comparable height on the opposite side of the garden.