Minimalism is perhaps the most definitive design style and philosophy of the last 25 years. The fact that it has endured so long is remarkable considering the extraordinary pace with which fashions, styles and trends have come and gone in the same period.
There is something about minimalism that is profoundly beautiful and captivating; in your garden, a minimalist design can make a very strong statement and leave a lasting impression.
So, I’ll just plant one tree then
No. Well, yes… sort of. Not one tree, one theme. A good design conveys serenity and arranging your garden so that things everywhere aren’t jumping out at you, competing for your attention.
If, for example you have a row along a fence line, try to imagine just one species of bush repeated in a geometrical pattern (zig-zag, diamond, etc.) along the entire line. Each bush or hedge should be spaced so that it has its own empty space around it, promoting contemplation and appreciation of each single plant for what it is. Each plant should, of course, be similarly sized and shaped to its neighbour.
A central relaxation area
There’s no point in creating an environment if you can’t enjoy it. A central deck on a low wooden or stone base is the obvious choice for arranging suitably simple, monotone outdoor furniture. Nothing wrought or elaborate, just simple comfortable furniture arranged around a low rectangular wood or stone table where you can imagine yourself lazing away on a sunny afternoon.
If you’re building a path from the deck to your home, use the same material that you used for the deck and refrain from adding fancy linings and whatnot. Your path does not have to be dull, however; you could add interest by adding square or rectangular ponds beside or under the path along the route to your home.
Other plants and trees
Large, rectangular areas of tall, swaying grass species are very good additions to a simple, harmonious garden style. They will occupy your line of sight when lying or sitting on your sun lounger, and there’s that soft rustling sound that emanates in the wind that is music to the busy, embattled city soul. Grasses are not necessarily spectacular in themselves, but they do provide sweeping areas of uniform colours that evolve with the seasons and when they flower, so the overall effect is by no means static.
Low, deciduous trees that are not overbearing can provide that touch of contrast and irregularity of nature in your otherwise neatly tamed garden. Perhaps a dogwood species with lovely red and golden autumn leaves repeated two or three times around your garden can give you that one final dimension that you can add in order to bestow it with instant appeal and lasting charm.
There’s really no need for little more beyond these simple ideas and techniques to create an ambience that is decidedly unique, and thoroughly refined and enjoyable. There are other takes on the minimalist style, naturally, but the underlying principles are always the same: monotones, regular geometry, repetition and harmony.
Dave Bower is an avid gardener and his love of plants is only matched by his love of writing about his passion and helping people pursue their love of gardening. Whether he’s building a fire pit or buying new swing seat cushions he’s always in his element.