December 20


Essential Considerations for Designing a Parterre Garden: A Comprehensive Guide

How to design a parterre garden – key points to consider

When it comes to designing a parterre garden, there are several key points to consider. First and foremost, you need to think about the space within which you will be working. Parterres are typically enclosed gardens, so privacy is always a factor to keep in mind. This means that hedges and hedging will play a significant role in your design.

According to gardening expert Emily Thompson, the trend in parterre designs in recent years has been towards symmetrical shapes and simple, geometric patterns. Thompson, who has been the editor of a popular gardening magazine for over 10 years, suggests that these designs work well within small areas and can be fitted into many different styles of homes.

One of the key points to consider when designing a parterre garden is the use of pathways. Thompson advises that gravel or other types of living ground cover can be used to create pathways within the garden. Not only do pathways add visual interest to the design, but they also serve a practical purpose by allowing easy access to the different areas of the garden.

If privacy is a concern for you, Thompson recommends using high hedges or an enclosed design. These types of designs not only provide privacy but also create a sense of calm and seclusion within the space. Additionally, Thompson suggests incorporating plants such as lavender or other fragrant flowers to add a sensory element to the garden.

In conclusion, designing a parterre garden means taking into consideration the space available, the need for privacy, and the use of pathways and hedging. By following expert advice and considering these key points, you can create an enclosed, symmetrical, and inspirational garden that will be the envy of your neighbors.

What is a parterre garden

A parterre garden is a type of formal garden design that features a symmetrical layout and intricate patterns. It typically consists of geometric shapes that are outlined and filled with different materials such as gravel, grass, or plants. Parterre gardens have been popular since the Renaissance period and are still widely used today.

Traditionally, parterres were designed to be seen from above, with intricate patterns created using sheets of differing materials. However, contemporary parterre gardens can also be viewed from ground level, with pathways and low hedges separating the different sections.

When designing a parterre garden, it is important to consider the overall layout and shape of the garden. The shape should complement the surrounding landscape and be in harmony with the architecture of the house. The size of the garden also plays a crucial role, as smaller gardens may require simpler and more compact designs.

One of the key elements of a parterre garden is the use of planting beds. These beds can be filled with a variety of plants, including flowers, shrubs, and even small bulbs. The choice of plants depends on personal preferences and the desired effect. Some designers opt for a more formal and structured look, while others prefer a more natural and organic feel.

In terms of maintenance, parterre gardens require regular pruning and trimming to maintain their shape and keep the plants within the designated areas. Hedges and other forms of hedging can be used to create privacy and add height to the garden. This can be particularly important in urban areas where space is limited.

Overall, parterre gardens are excellent for adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to any outdoor space. Whether you have a large backyard or a small enclosed area, incorporating a parterre garden can make a significant difference. If you are not sure where to start or need expert advice, it is always a good idea to consult with a professional designer or gardening editor who has extensive experience in creating parterre gardens.

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How do you design a parterre garden layout

How do you design a parterre garden layout

Designing a parterre garden layout involves careful planning and consideration of various factors. Here is some information to help you create the perfect parterre garden:

1. Determine the shape and size

First, you need to decide on the shape and size of your parterre garden. You can choose from various geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, or circles. The size will depend on the available space you have.

2. Plan the pathways

Pathways are an essential element in a parterre garden design. They not only provide access to different areas but also add aesthetic appeal. Decide where you want the pathways to be and plan their width and shape accordingly.

3. Select the plants

Choosing the right plants is crucial for a successful parterre garden. Consider factors such as sunlight, soil type, and the desired aesthetic. You can opt for traditional parterre plants like boxwoods and roses, or get creative with a mix of flowering plants, shrubs, and herbs.

4. Consider the height differences

Creating height differences within your parterre garden adds visual interest. You can achieve this by using different plant varieties or adding decorative elements like topiaries or trellises.

5. Focus on privacy and enclosure

If privacy is important to you, consider incorporating hedges or other plants that provide a sense of enclosure. This will create a cozy and intimate atmosphere within your parterre garden.

6. Get expert advice

If you’re unsure about how to design your parterre garden layout, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice. A landscaper or a gardening magazine editor can provide valuable insights and inspiration.

Remember, designing a parterre garden layout can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The key is to know what you want and work within the available space and resources. With the right planning and care, you can create a stunning parterre garden that will enhance the beauty of your outdoor living area.

Where can you find inspiration for the design of a parterre garden

When it comes to designing a parterre garden, finding inspiration is key. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, exploring different sources can help you generate ideas and create a unique design for your own garden. Here are some places where you can find inspiration:

Gardening magazines and books

  • Magazines and books dedicated to gardening often feature articles and photographs showcasing various types of parterre gardens. These publications provide a wealth of ideas and tips.
  • Look for magazines that focus on historical or traditional gardens, as they often include articles about parterre designs from different periods.

Visiting public gardens and parks

  • Many cities have public gardens and parks that feature beautiful parterre designs. Take a walk around these areas and observe the different shapes and arrangements of plants. Note down the ones that catch your eye and consider incorporating similar elements into your design.

Online platforms and social media

  • Websites and blogs dedicated to gardening offer a plethora of information and inspiration. Browse through articles, photos, and videos to discover unique parterre garden designs.
  • Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are also great sources of inspiration. Follow gardening influencers and search for hashtags related to parterre gardening to find beautiful and creative designs.

Working with a garden designer or landscaper

  • If you’re not sure where to start or want expert guidance, consider consulting with a garden designer or landscaper. They have the knowledge and experience to create stunning parterre designs.
  • A garden designer can help you narrow down your options based on your specific preferences, the available space, and the plants that work well in your area.

Historical gardens and architecture

  • Take inspiration from historical gardens and architectural styles. Explore gardens from different time periods and regions to learn about traditional parterre designs.
  • Pay attention to the use of hedges, pathways, and symmetrical arrangements, which are commonly found in historical parterres.

Remember, finding inspiration is just the first step. Once you have an idea of the design you want, make sure to customize it to suit your personal taste, the size and shape of your garden, and the plants that thrive in your climate. Experiment with different layouts, plant combinations, and color schemes to create a parterre garden that reflects your own unique style.

What can I plant in a parterre garden

When designing a parterre garden, one of the key considerations is determining what plants to include. The plant selection should align with your overall garden design, including the style and concept you want to achieve.


Hedges are a popular choice for parterre gardens, as they create structure and privacy. Boxwood, yew, and privet are commonly used for this purpose. These plants can be neatly trimmed to maintain crisp edges and defined shapes.

Ground covers:

Ground covers are perfect for filling in the spaces between hedges and pathways. Plants like dwarf mondo grass, creeping thyme, or ajuga can be used to create a lush, green carpet-like effect.

Flowering plants:

To add color and vibrancy to your parterre garden, consider including flowering plants. Roses, lavender, tulips, and daffodils are popular choices. These plants can be organized in symmetrical patterns or planted in clusters to create focal points.


Bulbs are a great addition to any parterre garden. They provide bursts of color and can be planted at different heights to create visual interest. Options like tulips, daffodils, and crocuses will add a touch of elegance and charm.

Inspiration from period designs:

When looking for ideas on what to plant in your parterre garden, it can be helpful to draw inspiration from historical and period designs. Many of these gardens focused on using specific plants and flowers, such as roses, lavender, and perennial herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Expert advice:

If you’re unsure about what to plant in your parterre garden, consulting with a gardening expert or landscape designer can be a helpful step. They can provide recommendations based on your specific area, climate, and personal preferences.

In conclusion, there are many plant options available for parterre gardens, whether you prefer a simple, contemporary design or something more intricate and traditional. Take into consideration the style of your house, the available space, and the maintenance policy you have in mind, and create a garden that works for you.

How do you plant a parterre

When it comes to planting a parterre, there are a few key points to consider. Here are some tips and information to help you get started:

1. Designing your parterre

1. Designing your parterre

The first step in planting a parterre is designing it. Take into consideration the size and shape of your available space, as well as the style of your home. A symmetrical design is often the most popular choice for parterres, but you can also go for more unique and creative designs as well.

One expert suggests using sheets of paper or magazine cutouts to help you visualize and experiment with different designs before committing to one.

2. Choosing the right plants

When selecting plants for your parterre, consider the height and maintenance requirements of each plant. Low-growing plants such as lavender and hedging plants are often used for parterres, as they create a neat and formal appearance.

You can also choose plants with different bloom times to ensure you have color throughout the year. Bulbs are another excellent option for adding color and variety to your parterre.

3. Planning pathways

Incorporating pathways into your parterre design is essential for easy access and maintaining the garden. Consider where the pathways will be located and how they will connect various parts of your parterre. Gravel paths are a popular choice as they add texture and visual interest to the design.

4. Planting and maintaining your parterre

Once you have your design and plants selected, it’s time to start planting your parterre. Begin by marking out the design on the ground and then planting the plants accordingly. Follow the care instructions for each plant to ensure they thrive.

Maintaining your parterre involves regular watering, pruning, and weeding. Keep an eye out for any pests or diseases and take appropriate measures to control them.

5. Moving forward with your parterre garden

Remember that a parterre is a long-term project, so be patient and enjoy the process. With proper planning and care, your parterre will continue to look beautiful for many years to come.

If you’re not confident in designing and planting your parterre yourself, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a professional designer or gardener who has experience with parterre gardens.

Now that you know the key points to consider when planting a parterre, you can start bringing this elegant trend to your own backyard. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more tips and advice on gardening and landscaping right in your inbox!

How can you design a modern parterre garden

When it comes to designing a modern parterre garden, there are a few key points to consider. According to gardening expert, Jane Thompson, it’s important to think about the overall design and layout of the garden, as well as the plants and pathways that will be used.

Design and Layout

The first thing to consider is the overall design and layout of the parterre garden. Thompson advises that a modern parterre garden should focus on clean lines and geometric shapes. This means creating symmetrical patterns and using straight pathways to divide the garden into different areas.

To create privacy within the garden, Thompson suggests using hedges or fencing to enclose the space. This can also help to create a sense of structure and order within the garden.

Plants and Pathways

Choosing the right plants for a parterre garden is essential. Thompson recommends using low-maintenance plants such as lavender, which not only adds color and fragrance, but also requires minimal care and attention.

Pathways are an important aspect of a parterre garden, as they define the different areas and guide visitors through the space. Thompson suggests using gravel or paved pathways to add a modern touch to the garden.

Maintaining the Garden

Maintaining a modern parterre garden can require some work, but it is important to keep it looking its best. Thompson advises regularly trimming the plants to maintain their shape and height, and regularly weeding and mulching the garden beds.

Thompson also suggests keeping the pathways clean and free from debris, and keeping an eye out for any signs of pests or diseases that might affect the plants.

Inspiration and Advice

If you’re looking for inspiration and advice on designing a modern parterre garden, there are many resources available. Thompson recommends looking at gardening magazines and websites for ideas, and also suggests consulting with a professional garden designer.

There are also online forums and community groups where you can ask questions and get advice from other gardeners who have experience with parterre gardens.

In conclusion, designing a modern parterre garden requires careful thought and planning. By focusing on clean lines, geometric shapes, and low-maintenance plants, you can create a beautiful and functional space. With proper maintenance and regular care, your parterre garden will be a source of pride and enjoyment for years to come.

Where should you position a parterre garden

When designing a parterre garden, one of the key decisions to make is the positioning of the garden within your available outdoor space. The location of your parterre garden can greatly impact its overall aesthetic and functionality.

Consider the layout of your outdoor space

It’s important to consider the overall layout of your outdoor space when deciding where to position your parterre garden. An enclosed area or a space with high walls can be an excellent choice for creating an intimate and private garden. On the other hand, if you have a large open area, placing the parterre garden in the center or as a focal point can create a stunning visual feature.

Take into account privacy and sunlight

Another consideration is privacy and sunlight. You might want to position the parterre garden in a way that provides privacy from neighboring houses or the street. This could be achieved by placing the garden near a wall or fence, and incorporating tall plants or hedges for added privacy.

At the same time, it’s important to consider the amount of sunlight that the garden will receive. Some plants require a lot of sunlight, while others prefer shade. Take into account the position of your parterre garden in relation to the sun, and choose plants that are suitable for the amount of sunlight they will receive.

Integrate the parterre garden with the house

Many parterre garden designs are created with the intention of complementing or integrating with the house. The garden can be positioned in front of the house, creating a symmetrical and formal entrance. This works particularly well for period homes. Alternatively, the garden can be positioned to the side or back of the house, creating a separate outdoor living area.

Work with a professional designer

If you’re unsure about the best position for your parterre garden, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional garden designer. They have the expertise and experience to help you make the right decisions. A designer can also take into account any specific requirements or challenges your outdoor space might have, and come up with a design that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Overall, the positioning of a parterre garden is an important aspect of its design. Take into account the layout of your outdoor space, consider privacy and sunlight, and integrate the garden with your house. Working with a professional designer can also provide valuable insights and ensure a successful garden design.

Are parterre gardens high maintenance

When it comes to designing a parterre garden, one of the obvious questions that comes to mind is whether these gardens are high maintenance. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. While parterre gardens can be more high maintenance compared to other forms of gardening, there are ways to reduce the amount of work needed to maintain them.

Parterre gardens have a long history, dating back to the Renaissance period. These gardens were originally created to be seen from above, often from a gate or a balcony. The information available from that period suggests that parterre gardens were formed by the designer in a way that made them easy to maintain. The main design feature is that the entire garden is formed from simple geometric shapes, usually squares and rectangles. This means that maintaining the garden involved mostly mowing the grass and trimming the hedges to keep them looking neat and defined.

In more contemporary parterre gardens, however, the trend is to have less ground area covered by grass and more area occupied by other elements such as flowers, bulbs, or gravel paths. While this can add height and dimension to the garden, it also means that there is more work involved in maintaining it. The designer will need to consider the height and planting of each element in order to create a visually appealing and practical parterre garden.

One way to reduce the amount of maintenance required for a parterre garden is to use low-maintenance plants. Plants that require less water, pruning, and fertilizing can help reduce the time and effort spent on gardening. Additionally, using hedging or fencing can create privacy and limit the amount of green space that needs to be maintained. Gravel paths and mulch can also be used to cover areas that do not require much attention.

It’s important to note that the maintenance needs of a parterre garden will also depend on the size of the garden and the amount of time and effort you are willing to put in. If you have a smaller garden and prefer low maintenance, then you can opt for a simpler parterre design with minimal planting and use of low-maintenance materials.

In conclusion, while parterre gardens can require more maintenance compared to other forms of gardening, there are ways to reduce the workload. By choosing low-maintenance plants, using hedges and fences for privacy, and incorporating gravel and mulch, you can create an excellent and inspirational parterre garden that requires less maintenance.

What is the difference between a knot garden and a parterre

When it comes to designing a parterre garden or a knot garden, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Both are types of formal gardens that have been popular for many years, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart from each other.


  • Parterres are often found in front of grand houses and are designed to be viewed from above.
  • They are usually composed of geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, and circles.
  • Parterres are typically fitted with box hedging or low-growing plants to create the desired shapes.
  • The design of a parterre is often symmetrical and provides a sense of order and formality.
  • Parterres can be moved over time, as the design of the garden changes or the homeowner’s preferences evolve.
  • They are often enclosed by gravel paths or lawns, creating a clean and structured look.

Knot gardens:

  • Knot gardens originated in the late Middle Ages and were popular in Renaissance Europe.
  • They were traditionally created by intricate patterns formed by low-growing plants, herbs, and small hedging.
  • Unlike parterres, knot gardens are often enclosed by tall hedges or walls, creating a more intimate and enclosed space.
  • Knot gardens typically feature a central design, usually a knot or a pattern, which is the focal point of the garden.
  • They are often designed with paths that allow visitors to walk through and appreciate the intricate details.
  • While parterres focus on maintaining geometric shapes, knot gardens are more about creating intricate patterns with plants.

In summary, the main difference between a knot garden and a parterre lies in their design and the way they are enclosed. Parterres are typically larger and more open, while knot gardens are smaller and enclosed with hedges or walls. Parterres focus on maintaining geometric shapes, while knot gardens create intricate patterns with plants. Both types of gardens can be a beautiful addition to any landscape, so it’s important to know the specific design and maintenance needs of each before implementing them in your own garden.


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