You can create a garden style for your Gilroy home that suits you and your family


By Kate Russell

Kate Russell

With the shelter in place still in order, many of us are spending a lot more time at home and in our yards, but does your yard really suit you? Does it look, feel, and function the way you want it to?

Regardless of how much space you have to work with, you can create a garden style that suits you and your family. Once you know more about each of the styles, you can pick and choose to create your own unique landscape. But what is your gardening style?

Cottage or potager gardens from 18th century England incorporate vegetables, herbs, and flowers into a functional, yet beautiful landscape, crammed full of useful plants, traditionally surrounded by a wattle and daub fence, to keep out wild rabbits. (Sadly, these barriers are ineffective against pocket squirrels and voles.)

France’s 16th century formal gardens feature open lawns, neatly trimmed shrubs and trees that are placed symmetrically, and focal points, such as fountains or statues. This is the template for many middle-class American landscapes, but lawns do not respond well to Gilroy summers.

Japan’s 14th century Zen gardens provide a place of contemplation with mossy rocks, raked sand, moving water, and artfully placed trees. Moss might be difficult here, but rock gardens and other xeriscapes are excellent options.

Wildlife and pollinator gardens cater more to local flora and fauna, providing food and shelter to indigenous animals, birds, and insects, often using native plants. Water sources are also included.

To determine your gardening style, start by asking yourself how you want to feel when you look at or walk through your garden or landscape.

Do you prefer the tidy rows, neatly trimmed shrubs, and well-mannered trees of a formal garden? Are you more comfortable in a riot of flowers, blooming year-round? Do you find maintenance-free stones and gravel more to your liking?

The wonderful thing about gardens is that they can be whatever you want them to be. You can create a kitchen potager, an herbal knot garden, or let native plants have their way with your yard and do what they will, with no help from you.

Next, ask yourself how you plan to use your garden. Is a badminton net in the works or do you prefer zucchinis and pepper plants? (You can have both, by the way.)

But you do need to decide if open spaces or paths will be needed ahead of time. Will you need room for a lounge chair for reading? A table for summer suppers? If you put the props for those activities in place first, it’s much easier to select plants that suit your style.

Finally, whatever your garden style, design with an eye for water use. Gilroy summers can be brutal for many plants. Installing water-wise plants suitable to our local climate often means you have a reduced water bill and healthier plants.