In the same way that your home's interior design reflects your personality, your garden says a whole lot about you, too. Whether you're a fastidious weeder or prefer to let vines run wild, it's possible to suss out a variety of personal styles by looking at the way you dig into your backyard dirt.
Not sure where you stand ... or what to plant in the first place? Take a look at this garden personality primer to figure it all out. If you find that you identify with a particular approach, check out the blooms that match—and soon your outdoor space will mirror your inner self.
"The ideal human habitat is one that reduces stress and refreshes our ability to focus," notes Cassy Aoyagi, a gardening professional and president of FormLA Landscaping. If you value calmness above all, Japanese gardens, which are associated with harmony and tranquility, may be the best choice for you.
For this design, consider these four essential elements: water, rocks and sand, plants and architecture. "Water here is usually found in the form of a pond, stream or waterfall, while rocks are used for pathways or stepping stones," explains Susan Brandt of Blooming Secrets, an e-commerce gardening website. Sand can also represent the earth or can stand in for a flowing river.
Azaleas are a popular choice in a tranquil garden, along with camellias, cherry and maple trees, pines, and bamboo. Architectural elements might include a bridge, stone lantern, and small fences.
Do you love nature—but also yearn for tight control? A formal look, like that of some English or French gardens, can be a great match. "In these gardens there's manicured space, with focal points of interest and symmetry," notes Brandt. "Our typical expanses of lawn are based upon English estate gardens, though a classic English garden may be unstructured and designed to reflect nature," Aoyagi adds.
Hallmarks of a formal garden include geometric beds, classic flowers (think lavender, tulips, and roses) and statuary. And if you're going really big in a formal garden, consider an alley or tree-lined path, plants that have been pruned into topiaries, or a grand water element, like a fountain or reflecting pool.
Also known as a native gardener, this free-spirited green thumb loves natural grasses and local plants that thrive in their own environments. Such people put a lot of sweat and energy into restoring their property to its native landscape—and it's not easy, notes Brandt. "Cultivating native plants calls for removing those that aren't part of the natural habitat," she points out.
Two wild-child garden ideas to try: a wavy meadow wrapped in deep greenery peppered with wildflowers, or a trail that seems to cut a natural path, ideally with an element that invites exploration.
Most homeowners love an edible garden, whether it's just a few herbs planted in buckets or a large-scale vegetable garden with corn, eggplants, peas, and tomatoes. This type of gardening is, of course, the oldest style and was first planted of out necessity. "Today, there are lots of people who welcome growing their own food and are gratified by it because it's pleasing and convenient," says Brandt.
Love is in the air in a romantic garden. (Bees too, so watch your step!) "This homeowner looks for harmony and balance, with a trellis or arbor and many softly colored, fragrant flowers," explains Brandt. You might also find a curved pathway that leads to a quiet seating area for two. Blue, lavender, pink, white, and yellow are all typical hues in a romantic garden. As for flower varieties, roses, peonies, bleeding hearts, daffodils, and tulips abound.
One of each, please! "This personality simply loves plants and collects one of every kind, which can lead to a rather haphazard-looking garden," says Aoyagi. To help this personality type, she encourages collector-gardeners to hit up a plant store for advice. "We try to make sure this person has choices that engage them, so that there's a plant that feels good, another that's fragrant, one to cook with and one that provides cut flowers for the inside of the home," she adds.