French country garden design ideas combine all the beauty of a relaxed, colorful and aromatic garden with the practicality of growing vegetables, fruit, and herbs at home. Centuries ago families had to depend on their gardens for food and the therapeutic benefits of herbs. The French began combining the functional aspects of food production, interspersing their vegetables and herbs with free-flowing flowers and Mediterranean influences like water elements, gazebos, and meandering paths to create enticing places.
Any type of yard lends itself to a French country garden since it’s not the boundaries of the yard that define the space, but rather it’s the garden design ideas themselves that create the mood. The growing beds and paths have gentle, natural curves. The ultimate goal for the shape of the garden is to pull people in and create a soothing and relaxing outdoor retreat. When the only available place is a balcony or patio, combining vertical gardens with potted plants can mimic the lush diversity of color, texture, and flow found in French country gardens.
Gardeners combine flowers with vegetables and herbs to benefit from companion planting. These gardens are colorful and rely on the contrast that foliage and flowers create to accent the plants within the garden. Some gardeners use companion planting to not only enhance the appearance of the garden but also provide better growing conditions for their plants.
Basil, tomatoes, and peppers complement each other, and separating each tomato plant from a basil plant increases tomato production. Tomatoes and roses flourish side-by-side and since both have similar water and food requirements, can be a time-saving combination for busy gardeners. Pepper plants like to grow with petunias and geraniums and carrots like to grow with rosemary, lettuce, and onions of all kinds.
Lavender, sage and rosemary combine well in herb gardens and require little by way of water and soil amendments. In warm climates, these can be perennial plants. All three of these herbs have distinct flowering cycles and are cut well for drying. Sunflowers and hollyhocks can form a back border for the gardens and have striking and colorful flowers.
Both of these plants reseed themselves easily, Giant zinnias also provide bold colors and shapes for back borders. Plants for borders along the pathway edges like violas, violets, strawberries, alyssum, and even some varieties of kale, green leaf lettuce, and radishes grow low and uphold the principles of gardening by combining form and function.
Fruit trees are a natural inclusion in these gardens, as are trees with broad canopies, and some evergreens. Any tree or large shrub can lend shade, color, and variety in these environments. Trees that require severe pruning or shaping negate the free-flowing concept behind the garden design ideas for these spaces. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer, are good for sun-sensitive plants, offer a blaze of color during the fall, and may warm structures during the winter after they lose their leaves.
Natural pathways through the garden space are the hallmark of these gardens and the paving material should be natural or have a natural appearance. Old and weathered bricks, flagstone pavers, or faux cobblestones lend authenticity to these gardens. Gravel works for garden paths, as long as it’s contained with edging so that it doesn’t wash away or mix with the soil.
The French used their gardens for relaxation, along with food production. Garden design ideas that include fountains, benches, gazebos, arbors, and benches complement the look of these gardens. These gardens are not the place for minimalistic design elements, but pieces that have slight curves and flourishes fit into these environments. Even small fish ponds or water gardens can create an additional dimension for these spaces.
Because of the Mediterranean influence of these spaces, garden design ideas that incorporate colorful accents reflect the nature of the French countryside. Colorful tablecloths, pillows and chair pads reminiscent of the artistic output of the French Impressionists or Paul Cezanne go well in a casual French garden.
Of all the types of thematic garden design ideas that exist, the French country design provides the flexibility of nurturing food, fruit, and flowers in one space. The possibilities are endless and the results can shower a yard with bold colors and the table with bountiful food.