10 Great Ideas for Themed Gardens

Themed Garden

Trying to figure out what to do with some unused outdoor space? Instead of the same old landscaping scheme, try a themed garden inspired by your favorite moods and foods, or the needs of your family and your yard. These themed garden ideas will turn your yard into a customized paradise.

Benefits of themed gardens

Setting up a themed garden in your yard – or a few! – has many benefits. If you’re planting an edible landscape, organizing a large garden space into vegetable gardens, herb gardens, and other themes can help you orient your yard so you know what’s planted where. Other themed gardens adapt specifically to your environment to save water, time, and money.

Themed gardens also make gardening more fun. Unique themes like goth gardens and cottage gardens bring your personality into your landscape, while kid-friendly structures like sensory gardens and fairy gardens will get the whole family excited about getting outside.

10 ideas for your themed garden

Searching for themed garden design ideas to add style and structure to your yard? Check out these 10 themed garden ideas to find the perfect starting point.

1. Cottage garden

Cottage gardens combine personality and practicality to create a garden space that gives you the best of both worlds. These thrifty gardens evoke country living with edible and local plants that create lovely low-maintenance landscapes. Cucumbers and herb gardens will be right at home next to wildflowers and hollyhocks.

Trying to complete the look? Combine your cottage garden plants with curved hardscaping elements like bird baths and pergolas for a cozy feel.

2. Tea garden

Take your herb garden up a notch by dedicating a section of it to plants that will allow you to brew your own homemade cup of tea. Plants like chamomile, peppermint, lavender, and bee balm can be harvested from a tea garden and dried for a soothing herbal cup, and the true tea plant Camellia sinensis can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 8-11.

Position any Camellia sinensis plants to get maximum sunlight and rainfall, as they’re used to high humidity. Plants that may become invasive, such as certain mint varieties, should be grown in plant pots to keep them from taking over. Garden decor like lanterns and smooth stepping stones will give your tea garden a soothing ambiance.

3. Pizza garden

Pizza garden
Juan Rodriguez

Ideally, we’d be able to grow pizza on trees, but a pizza garden gets you most of the way there. This kid-friendly edible garden features all your favorite ingredients, ready to harvest each time you’re craving a hot slice. 

Herbs like basil and oregano can be set up in containers to add visual variety to your garden pizza, or planted directly in the soil. Want to make your pizza garden a one-stop outdoor pizza shop? Consider adding an outdoor pizza oven or fire pit nearby to prepare your pizza fresh onsite.

For a more detailed look at how to create a pizza garden, check out this article on Lawn Love.

4. Goth garden

The unique allure of a goth garden is a surefire way to bring your personality into your landscape. This dramatic garden theme combines Victorian decor, a dark color scheme, and focal point blooms like bleeding hearts and Dracula celosia for an eerie ambiance that’s sure to wow.

Goth gardens can take on a polished appearance or a more naturalistic garden design similar to a cottage garden. Try adding creepy climbers on trellises, like these blood-red Souvenir du Docteur Jermain roses, for extra dimension and privacy.

5. Fairy garden

Are you looking for the fantasy-inspired elements of a goth garden, but picturing something more kid-friendly or suited for a small space? Fairy gardens are a great way to get creative. By incorporating small garden plants and delightful decor, this tiny form of landscape design turns pockets of unused garden space into a miniature wonderland.

For the perfect fairy garden, aim for small and easily trimmable plants, such as baby’s tears and miniature succulents like hens and chicks. These gardens are a great fit for container gardening, but they can also spread out into a full fairy village. Mini fairy figurines and fairy doors add a whimsical touch and make for excellent DIY projects.

6. Sensory garden

Sensory gardens often cater to children, the elderly, or people with sensory issues, but everyone can benefit from them. These gardens appeal to the senses with plants that are fragrant, edible, textured, or visually stunning. You can group your sensory garden into sections based on the senses, or combine them for an immersive experience. 

Fragrant vines like honeysuckle and wisteria are great in a sensory garden because they are fun to touch. Try peeling-bark trees like crape myrtles and the velvety leaves of lamb’s ear. Hard landscaping elements like bird feeders, inviting garden paths, and wind chimes help create a meditative space.

7. Pollinator garden

A pollinator garden or butterfly garden uses local wildflowers and pollinator-friendly plants to transform a small space or large garden into an welcoming home for butterflies, bumblebees, and hummingbirds. Pollinators are an important part of the ecosystem, so this themed garden type is great for your garden and for the area around it. 

Butterflies love having varied heights to explore, so take your pollinator garden to the next level with hanging baskets and floral climbing vines.

8. Rain garden

If you’re having problems with extra moisture in your yard, or just looking for a garden theme that thrives in periods of heavy rainfall, a rain garden is a great way to combine function with fashion. These gardens capture extra stormwater runoff with native plants and permeable, compost-heavy soil to absorb rainfall.

In addition to helping with standing water problems, your rain garden will reduce the effects of erosion, clean contaminants, and help you avoid the costly risks of lawn diseases and other problems that accompany extra water in your yard. Decorative elements like rain gauges will add a sweet touch.

9. Shade garden

Themed gardens aren’t just for homeowners blessed with full sun! If you have a little less light in your landscape, a shade garden will allow you to take advantage of your lawn space with a lush, low-maintenance garden. Shade gardens are right at home under tree cover or in the shadows of buildings, and they can feature gorgeous evergreen ferns or shade-loving flowers like rhododendrons.

Shaded yards might require some clever landscaping, but you’ll get to treasure your time outside without needing to beat the heat. Dress up your shade garden with outdoor furniture and centerpiece potted plants to create the perfect backyard retreat.

10. Rock garden

For a unique garden theme that’ll increase your property value and save you money and time that would otherwise be spent watering, consider a rock garden. These calming gardens combine low-maintenance, xeriscape-inspired landscaping with the natural beauty of rocks and boulders to add intrigue and excitement to your yard.

Drought-tolerant and native plants will thrive in a rock garden, so start brainstorming succulents, flowering perennials, and cacti that can take the heat. Unique raised beds can be created from large rocks to outline your garden. Stone statues and earthenware pots will make excellent accents.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Where did fairy gardens originate?

A. According to Irish lore, fairies were the original inhabitants of Ireland but were driven underground by conflict. Fairy gardens are considered portals to the spirit world.

Q. What plants work well in a goth garden?

A. The perfect goth garden mix has to be full of black plants and dark foliage. Dahlias, tulips, and evergreen hellebores come in shades of deep purple, red, black, and white, a perfect color palette for a gothic setting. 

The final word

There are plenty of themed gardens to choose from to dress up your landscape – but don’t get overwhelmed by all the options available. Our landscaping pros are a call or click away to help you assess the needs of your yard and create the garden that’s right for you.

Main photo credit: Wikimedia | CC-BY-SA-2.0

Annie Parnell

Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Annie Parnell is a freelance writer and audio producer based in Richmond, Virginia. She is passionate about gardening, outdoor recreation, sustainability, and all things music and pop culture.