Designed to withstand the extremes of the Mediterranean climate, Greek gardens are known for drought-tolerant plants and weathered fixtures. Boasting colourful accents and stonework, the traditional Greek garden is bright, welcoming and visually striking.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some Greek garden ideas that will inspire you to transform your lawn and patio. Read on to find out which plants work best for a Mediterranean garden and the right decor to implement to bring this classic style to life (unfortunately we can’t guarantee the weather!)
Greek Gardens: Plants and Flowers of the Med
A Mediterranean garden is made to withstand harsh summers and frosty winters. To recreate a similar style, take notes from classic Greek gardens and include plants that are born to handle extreme element changes. Here are some ideas for hardy plants you can include to nail that Greek garden style.
Succulents are best placed in planters with well-aerated soil and lots of drainage. They thrive all year round and they don’t need regular watering, so they’re perfect for any sort of garden. Spiral aloe, snake plants and zebra haworthia are just a few examples of plants that can thrive with very little maintenance.
Drought-tolerant perennials and native plants
Spice your garden up with bright flowering plants like bougainvillaea or poppies. These flowers are extremely robust, and add a much-needed burst of red or pink to a primarily green garden. Both of these plants can thrive in the UK (although you’ll need to protect bougainvillaea from frost).
Herbs are another excellent choice for recreating a Greek garden in the UK. Lots of herbs thrive in UK weather, and you can grow the even in the smallest gardens. They give off beautiful aromas, just like you’ll find in authentic Mediterranean gardens – plus, growing a kitchen garden is always good for sustainability.
Citrus and olive trees provide crops and shade
Olive trees and orange trees are classic Mediterranean plants, and commonly feature in Greek gardens. Orange trees can grow in the UK – you’ll just need to keep them in pots so you can bring them inside in cooler months, or grow them in a conservatory.
Olive trees are native to Greece and provide a light fragrance to your garden. They’re unlikely to bear fruit in colder climates, but they have a very long life and their beautiful silvery green leaves look perfect in a Mediterranean-style garden
Symmetry and Scale: Greek Garden Ideas and Tips for Structure
A Greek garden doesn’t need strict maintenance, but there are still a few tips and tricks for keeping it tidy. The goal is a kind of “controlled chaos” that achieves the clean, classic look of the Mediterranean garden without constant pruning.
Symmetry is key
The Greeks created the very concept of symmetry. Follow their lead by building a well-organised garden layout with flower beds and potted arrangements that mirror each other with similar plants and colours.
Arches and arbours
Arches and arbours made from natural materials are a common sight in Greek gardens. Not only do they make an eye-catching fixture at your garden entrance or courtyard, they’re perfect for supporting the weight of vines like jasmine and ivy.
If you don’t have room for an arbour, trellises and tree canopies will still add height and impact, without expanding vertically and crowding your garden. Swinging chairs are another way to add structure while still having a functional use – take a look at more suspended chair ideas here.
Mediterranean Style: Decor Schemes For A Greek Garden
Gardens of the Mediterranean are known for their simple decor and air of tranquillity, with antique pottery and statues to add interesting counterpoints. Here are some great landscaping ideas involving stone and clay decor.
Use neutral tones for masonry
Greek gardens are known for having whitewashed walls and pale stone floors. In hotter climates, this has the effect reflecting the sun’s heat and making the garden cooler. In the UK this isn’t really necessary, but the light colours will at least serve to brighten up your outdoor space on a gloomy day! As a plus, neutral surfaces are also a great canvas for showcasing climbing vines and blooming flowers.
Add pops of colour
Greek gardens are far from bland, so once you have a neutral canvas, make sure to include one strong theme of colour. Royal blue – or the colour of the Greek flag – is the traditional choice, but a mustard yellow, sage green or hot fuchsia can work just as well.
Ditch the lawn and go for gravel
Mediterranean-style gardens are easier to maintain because they feature gravel walkways and tiled floors instead of lawns. Gravel walkways have the benefit of providing solid footing for a good stroll, while preventing weeds from growing.
Add mosaic elements
Greek gardens often incorporate floor or wall mosaics as a simple way to break up large sections of white and neutral shades. If you want to include a large section of mosaic tiles, you can lay them yourself or buy them in pre-cast, larger tiles that just need grouting to create the desired effect. Keep larger mosaics simple, sticking to shades of one colour.
Alternatively, you could use smaller mosaic pieces, like tabletops or decorative plates. In this case, brighter colours pack more of a punch and stand out against neutral backdrops instead of overpowering them.
Use terracotta liberally
Striking pottery is a staple in Greek gardens, either as standalone features or to house succulents and flowers. If you’re using clay pots as planters, make sure they have enough drainage since most Mediterranean garden plants need well-drained, lighter soil. Keep in mind that clay and terracotta pots generally hold water better and keep your plants regularly hydrated.
For added personality, look for an old amphora or clay olive oil jar, for an authentic finishing touch to your garden.
Statues and plinths
You only need a couple of statues to serve as statement decor in your garden. Statues and plinths make beautiful accents that can complement your plants. Use them sparingly so as not to detract from the greenery – just one or two in a small garden, and four or five in a larger one. Don’t worry about keeping them pristine – a weathered finish adds character.
Architectural Elements in Greek Gardens
The Greeks treat their gardens as a place for socializing and leisure. So, if you’re imitating the style, it’s important that you consider adding fixtures that facilitate a welcoming social atmosphere.
A beautiful garden patio
Greek gardens will always have an outdoor area where you can sit and enjoy the view. Position a garden patio under a shaded area so you can spend long hours sitting comfortably. You can take it up a notch and even install a firepit, outdoor kitchen or a barbecue area to entertain guests on hot summer evenings.
Take a look at our posts all about garden patio inspiration and fire pit ideas for making even the smallest patio feel fresh, warm and welcoming. If you’re keen on the thought of outdoor cooking, we’ve got BBQ area style tips and ideas for outdoor kitchens in the UK too.
Put up a pergola
Ooh, do I love a pergola! Whether they’re free-standing or placed over a patio area for shade, pergolas are an easy way to create a focal point for your garden. Pergolas are often surrounded with climbing plants since their posts make a great trellis. Stick to natural materials like wood or stone if you want your pergola to remain true to the natural finish of Greek gardens.
Add a water feature
Similar to Moroccan gardens, Greek gardens often have a small body of water to reflect light, cool the air and provide hydration and humidity for plants. An ornamental pool or rustic fountain makes a great addition to a Greek-inspired garden in the UK, and the sound of flowing water will make sitting outside feel much more tranquil.
Enjoying your Greek Garden
Greek gardens are all about elegant simplicity, so by combining the right Greek garden ideas for your space, you can enjoy a beautiful garden with minimal maintenance.
Take inspiration from their native plants and elegant decor to recreate this sunny Mediterranean style. With these relaxed designs, you’ll be able to spend less time worrying about your landscaping, and more time enjoying your garden space.