A Mediterranean landscape is inspired by the climate and design style of the coastal areas of Spain, Italy and France, but you don't need to live in that region to borrow some of the influence for your property. By combining rustic plants and materials with pops of vivid color, you can capture a Mediterranean look for your garden or back yard to create a charming place to relax.
Use Traditional Plants
Creating a Mediterranean-style landscape starts with plants that are classics in the Mediterranean region. For example, olive trees (Olea europaea), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, can be eye-catching ornamentals for a yard while Italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens, USDA zones 7b through 11) work well as a privacy screen because of their narrow, columnlike appearance. Olive trees are considered invasive in some areas, though. So avoid planting them near open spaces, and keep them under control by pulling out seedlings by hand. No Mediterranean landscape is complete without herbs such as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, USDA zones 5b through 8) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, USDA zones 8 through 10). You also can add movement to the landscape by planting ornamental grasses, including deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens, UDSA zones 5 through 11) and autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis, hardy in USDA 5 through 8).
Traditional Mediterranean gardens have stone for hardscape areas to add color and texture to the landscape. Create an authentic look by choosing light-colored stone, which is often used in Mediterranean gardens so walkways and patios in hot sunlight don’t become uncomfortable to people using them. Stone tiles such as travertine provide a more polished look for walkways and patio areas. For a rustic ambiance, opt for loose gravel to give a garden path added texture. In the center of a garden area or courtyard, a stone fountain can make a striking centerpiece. Tiered styles offer the most traditional look for a Mediterranean landscape, but a simple stone fountain also can work well.
Decorate with Statues and Pottery
Incorporating statues and pottery throughout the yard helps add character and visual interest to a Mediterranean landscape. Choose traditional garden statues for the yard; works depicting Roman figures, Greek gods and animals such as lions all fit the style well. You can use pottery to hold container plants or simply place pottery in the corners of a patio or terrace to add visual interest. Terracotta pots work well in a Mediterranean landscape, but ceramic pottery is another option. Instead of the usual pottery available at large garden centers, though, use pots that have a handcrafted look. Urns, bowls and even olive jars can holds plants, decorative rocks or other materials in a Mediterranean-style garden.
Use Bold Colors
When you’re choosing a color palette for a Mediterranean landscape, stay away from soft shades such as pastels. Instead, incorporate bold, bright shades through furniture cushions, ceramic pottery and other accessories. Cobalt blue is a classic shade for the design because Mediterranean style is inspired by the sea that surrounds the region. In addition to including colorful cushions and accessories, you could paint a stucco garden wall a vibrant cobalt blue or mix cobalt blue tiles into a patio or pool design. Other shades that work well for the Mediterranean theme include red, yellow and orange.
- Landscaping Network: Mediterranean Landscape Design
- North Coast Gardening: Mediterranean Garden Design -- How to Create a Tuscan Garden
- Arizona State University, Chris A. Martin's Faculty Website: Olea Europaea
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Cupressus Sempervirens -- Italian Cypress
- University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension: Lavandula Angustifolia -- Lavender, English Lavender
- Monrovia: Deer Grass
- Fine Gardening: Nine New and Unusual Grasses
- Landscaping Network: Tuscan Garden Design Tips
- Landscaping Network: Mediterranean Backyard Ideas
- California Invasive Plant Council: Olea Europaea (Olive)
- Photo Credit nancykennedy/iStock/Getty Images
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