Italian Garden Ideas

An Italian garden is a year-round garden that is not dependent on color for its features. A dramatic contrast in light and shade typically exists in the Italian garden. Italian garden designs incorporate formal lines and geometrically patterned beds--but not very many flowers. The plants are primarily evergreens for texture and shape in the garden. Many of these evergreens are manicured into borders, edgings and points of interest.


Walkways in an Italian garden are formal lines. They are edged with low growing evergreen shrubs like Templehof Hinoki Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Templehof'), Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata), blue nest spruce (Picea mariana 'Ericoides'), Little Gem bird's nest spruce (Picea abies 'Little Gem') and dwarf spruce (Picea abies 'Mucronata'). The walkways are created from a variety of different materials. Cobble stones, brick, tightly fitting river stones or concrete with large stones mixed in. Use the walkways to lead your visitors around your garden to see the features that you have installed.


No Italian garden is complete without classical sculptures. Italian sculptures are usually made of marble and depict the human figure. Other sculptures are resting lions, racing wild horses and fleeing deer. For simpler and smaller statues, use basic geometric shapes like globes or small wildlife like birds and rabbits. Statues are placed in isolated positions with the garden used as a background for emphasis. Marble benches are placed in strategic places to give the garden visitors a resting place as well as give them the best views of the garden design. If a fountain is used for a feature, it can simply be a tiered round fountain with a pond for the bottom tier.

Color Spots

The best place for flowers is in oversized urns mounted on marble pedestals. Match the color of the urn with the pedestal. The pedestal needs to raise the flowers to eye height. Use one color in all of the urns to tie them together. Some flowering plants to consider are paperflower (Bougainvillea glabra 'Choisy'), dwarf azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum), flamingo flower (Anthurium), and the geranium (Geranium spp.). Plant upright flowering plants in the center of the urns and place vining flowering plants around the edges so they drape over the side.


Evergreens are used throughout the Italian garden. Trees like Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea), Loricato pine (Pinus leucodermis) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea) are placed around the background as large plants. Clipped evergreen shrubs in the form of spheres, cubes and spirals are placed in containers. Hedges surround the garden with the hedge shrubs trimmed like elongated triangles. Other evergreens are trimmed in low hedges and are grown in intricate geometric designs.

Keywords: Italian garden, Italian landscape, formal garden tips

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.