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4 Popular Garden Styles (+The Best Outdoor Lighting For Them)

Gardening is a relaxing but flow state activity, a fantastic way to get some exercise, and develops self-sufficiency. In the early years, a green thumb was essential, but the craft deteriorated throughout the generations. Partial credit can be given to the rise of apartment complexes and the increasing difficulty to afford a home, especially one suitable for a garden.


But, we can see a prominent urge to restore gardening and for more accessibility: indoor gardening systems are constantly emerging, tiny houses encourage outdoor spaces, food shortages are recurrent, concern for pollinators, and of course, during the pandemic, people were looking for attentive at-home hobbies.


Research Co. and Glacier Media asked Canadians about growing or cultivating plants, and the results were a bit surprising: 68% of people over 55 said they partake in the activity, 63% of people between 18-34 also said yes, as well as 57% of those aged between 35-54.


Gardeners gain several valuable benefits; one is increasing the value of their property. A nicely landscaped property can increase the property value from 5.5% to 12.7%, depending on the type of landscaping and the home's original value. An established garden contributes to this value, as buyers prioritize the plant’s size and maturity over other elements like plant diversity.


While tending to a garden is valuable, we can all agree that the presentation is a large attraction to this trend. Manicured lawns, rows of evergreens, and modest vegetable gardens are all perennial elements that emphasize their charm.


However, sometimes venturing beyond standard landscaping ideas and introducing abstract details can create the most appealing outcome – like, let’s say, adding outdoor lights. We have compiled a list of the most common garden styles and which outdoor lights complement them most. Continue reading for some 2023 outdoor lighting inspiration!


English Cottage Garden

English cottage gardens have nearly doubled in popularity since 2021; their uncultivated tangle of edible plants, overgrown grass, rose bushes and other mixtures of flowers speak to millennials and others who value pollinators and biodiversity.


While having an English garden differs from a Cottage garden, often the two are used interchangeably or together. An English garden follows a more traditional and punctual style whereas a cottage garden is free-flowing and barbarian-isk. The English cottage garden combines elements of each: plants and flowers from the English style and the untamed essence of the Cottage style.


Characteristics of an English Cottage Garden:

  • Abundance. This style of garden is extremely full and layered, plus there is a great variety of plants and flowers.

  • Naturalistic. Even though this type of garden must be strategically planned, the appearance should come across as organic and natural.

  • Plants and Flowers. The most iconic options are rose bushes, lamb’s ear, lavender, delphinium, foxglove, and clematis. Mixing perennials/annuals, colours/textures, and edible plants (apple trees, strawberry bushes, etc.) will give the best result.

  • Features. While plants and flowers are at the center of this style, benches, stone pathways, arbours, and delicate fences are essential. Most importantly, allowing the natural elements to take over the structures.


Tips for an English Cottage Style Garden layout:

  • The tallest plants and flowers should primarily be at the outer edges of the garden but still mixed in the middle area.

  • Give the effect of natural mass growth by planting numerous of the same flower and colour near each other, which is known as “drifts”.

  • Colour block plants and flowers and allow them to fade into each other.

  • Allow natural elements to interact with other features, but also allow them to breathe air into the layout. A popular choice is a water fountain. It can be surrounded by flowers, etc., near the bottom but have airiness near the top.


The best landscape lighting for English Cottage Garden:

Since this style of garden is designed around traditional elements while maintaining an organic and free-flowing feel – the lighting should be soft and minimal. Nothing should take away from the romantic, wanderlust ambiance of the garden. Therefore you should try illuminating the features instead.

  • Pathway lights.

  • Moonlighting.

  • Uplights on trees, water features, or sculptures.


Spanish-Influenced Gardens

A Spanish garden style has evolved over time; there are no hard and fast rules for the layout and structure, although certain design aspects are maintained.


Ancient Persian and other Middle Eastern gardens influence the Spanish style, as well as gardens built by ancient Moors in Andalusia. A cross aligned with the four points of the compass divides the garden into four quadrants filled with fruit trees and aromatic flora. Frequently, a wall surrounds the entire garden.


Characteristics of a Spanish Garden:

  • Pathways. The decorative stone or tile pathway is probably the most notable aspect of this style and really emphasizes the Spanish influence. Paths should be parallel, perpendicular, and seem ongoing.

  • Water features. Pools of water and fountains are crucial for this style since several environments that pull from this style have hot climates. Typically the layout will revolve around the main water feature since it’s the spot people gravitate to.

  • Architecture. Arches and columns are used heavily for doorways, walkways, and pergolas. It creates an ethereal environment while maintaining strength, which is seen throughout the theme. Typically gardens are enclosed by walls instead of fences.

  • Plants and flowers. The most iconic ones are citrus trees, figs, cypresses, cacti, vines, hibiscus flowers, bougainvilleas, orchids, and jasmine.


Tips for a Spanish Style Garden layout:

  • The layout should be symmetrical (dividing the space into four equal parts), or include symmetry within the design (geometric patterns for garden beds).

  • Garden walls should be brick, stone or white stucco. White walls help deflect the sun’s heat.

  • The garden is monochromic with red or brown earth tones, plus a pop of colour through vibrant or pastel tiles and plants. If you want a more Moroccan feel, add accents of Majorelle Blue.

  • Colourful and decorated tiles are used for fountains, pathways, staircases and doorways, whereas red clay tiles are for flooring and roofing.


The best landscape lighting for Spanish Garden:

The Spanish garden has been idolized throughout history because it unknowingly invites you outdoors; lighting should mimic its mystery. The light fixtures should blend with the design rather than stand out.

  • Simple, black iron fixtures.

  • Wall scones with vintage detailing.

  • Outdoor lanterns.

  • Low voltage LED lighting.


Japanese Garden Style

In Japan, growing a traditional garden is regarded as one of the finest forms of art. The major goal is to highlight nature's beauty (even in tiny gardens) through thoughtful landscaping decisions and subtle designs. Even if you're not in your yard, the view from garden-facing entrances and windows should be lovely and deliberate.


To achieve this style, you must consciously understand that you’re building a work of art and the symbolism behind a Japanese garden.

  • Ma (間) – negative space that’s been deliberately left empty. It creates harmony and balance and emphasizes the specific things that have been included.

  • Miegakure (見え隠れ) – deliberately hiding garden features and then revealing them once the previous scene has been appreciated.

  • Scaled-down symbolism – rocks representing mountains or ponds representing oceans.

  • Fukinsei (不均斉) – never having a singular focal point, but harmonizing elements through asymmetry.

  • Shakkei (借景) – making use of features that are outside of your garden.

  • Mon (門) – simply the Japanese word for gates.

Characteristics of a Japanese Garden:

  • Conscious decisions. These gardens are not busy or overflowing with elements; each item is deliberately chosen and thought out. The layout’s aesthetic should visually represent this as well.

  • Greenery. Shades and textures of green are predominant in the design because it represents nature, relaxation and tranquility. Other than pathways and steps, foliage covers the ground and moss is encouraged.

  • Organic materials. Any features or add-ons should be wood, stone, rocks, gravel, bamboo or sand.

  • Plants and Flowers. When blossomed, they should represent the season, so each plant has its spotlight. Camellia for autumn, Iris for summer or Azaleas for spring. For trees, oak, maple, ginkgo, cedar, elm and willow are common in Japan.

  • Water features. Ponds and water bowls are the most common features. A water feature is crucial for this style as it represents life.


Tips for a Japanese Garden layout:

  • If you have a large yard with shrubs, bushes, and trees, you should research Ōkarikomi, to stay true to the theme.

  • Use neutral shades and earth tones for the colour scheme.

  • If you cannot add a water feature, mimic water with gravel or sand.

  • Intense research should be completed beforehand, as everything is symbolic – even the placement of rocks in a zen garden area.


The best landscape lighting for Japanese Style Gardens:

Since this garden style is philosophical and founded on culture and traditions, obligatory respect must be given to all areas of design, especially lighting. The moon and fire-based sources would illuminate gardens, but in modern times, it’s not always feasible or sufficient. We recommend these lighting sources to preserve traditions and carry on the essence of this style.

  • Stone lanterns.

  • Recessed lighting for overlays.

  • In-ground lighting.

  • Soft illumination.


Modern/Contemporary Gardens

The precise symmetrical designs of classic gardens are swapped out for uneven and occasionally interwoven shapes in modern and contemporary garden designs. Modern landscapes are clean-lined, hard-edged, and simplistic. It uses mainly metal, concrete, and monochrome or muted colour palettes. Modern design is mainly influenced by the purpose of the materials rather than by nature.


The contemporary style derives from modern design, yet it is more natural and gentler. What is "already in place" is considered and enhanced in modern design. Curves and wooden accents, and properly placed colourful flowers, are welcomed. But keep in mind that less is always more.


Characteristics of a Modern/Contemporary Garden:

  • Hardscape. The paving design is a crucial element for modern gardens; it’s the foundation of its sophisticated style and usually plays with geometric shapes and oversized patio blocks.

  • Refined. With modern/contemporary gardens, less is always more. Sculptures and planters have clean lines, geometric shapes, and neutral colours with minimal patterns.

  • Plants and Flowers. Play with shapes and textures; common choices are sapphire skies beaked blue yucca, gold Japanese forest grass, Pieris, azaleas, or sky pencil holly. Flowers are typically picked based on the colour scheme rather than the type.

  • Outdoor space. Modern designs prioritize and feature outdoor spaces like lounge areas, outdoor dining, or a kitchenette. Many utilize multi-level spaces to capitalize on the yard’s size and create clean, geometric lines.


Tips for a Modern/Contemporary Garden layout:

  • For multi-level backyards, use large, open concrete planters for the railing or border of the second level.

  • Include oversized benches made of concrete, stone, and/or wood with minimal coverings and use the backing as a garden bed.

  • Try curving lounge benches, multi-level ramps, garden beds, or a water feature to introduce geometric shapes.

  • Look at your garden from a bird’s eye view (via drone) to ensure you have clean lines and shapes. Trim or prune trees, bushes, or plants to follow this style.


The best landscape lighting for Modern/Contemporary Style Gardens:

Outdoor lights are substantial in modern/contemporary garden designs; they emphasize the dramatic angular lines and guarantee the enjoyment of outdoor spaces throughout the evening and night. The installation is clever and deliberate, so they’re not evident in a simplistic design.

  • Uplights for plants and garden beds.

  • Bar lights for stairways, rails or counters.

  • Fire features and electric fireplaces.


The Best Outdoor Lighting for Garden Designs

LED landscape and architectural lighting can transform any property and improve the style of your backyard garden. Work with a professional design and installation team to secure your investment and be guaranteed an impressive finish.


Lightscapes services Southern Ontario and has an award-winning team that uses the art of illumination to create a naturally balanced nightscape. Your property will come alive at night with our artistry.


Before you design your dream backyard garden, check out the 2023 trends for outdoor living spaces and backyards.