As with all the revival themes, this garden style is best suited for homes that have authentic architectural features. However, a steeply pitched roof, a conical roof tower, or a small, deeply recessed entry, are enough elements to invoke the design of a French Revival Garden. Beginning with a symmetrical, formal layout for hardscape areas, these grand, geometric gardens feature formally clipped hedges, topiaries, fountains, and statuary. Larger garden spaces work best due to the “grand scale” theme so prevalent in the French Revival garden style. Water features should have a major impact on the garden, a true focal point. Complex mazes of hedges with benches create garden areas for retreat and relaxation. A greenhouse or sunroom can be a wonderful addition to the garden.
The famous Garden of Versailles is the prime example of a French garden. It is possible to design a scaled-down version of this renowned garden for your home. At the residential scale, the French Revival Garden is still impressive.
French Revival Garden Elements: The patio and walkways must be designed in formal and symmetrical shapes, therefore, the stone, weathered brick, or patterned concrete should be designed in square or rectangular patterns. Decorative iron and ornate wood compliment the simple, elegant outdoor furniture and the entertainment center, outdoor kitchen. A gazebo is often positioned away from the patio with a path entry. A reflection pool or low fountain must be the focal point of the garden, with a axial view from the home. If room is at a premium, a small swimming pool can serve the purpose of a reflection pool. Statuary and sculptures are an important part of the garden. Whenever possible, a raised patio or deck should create a terrace for viewing the formal garden shapes, textures, and colors.
French Revival Garden Plants: Since much of the garden is formally clipped hedges, small-leaved shrubs such as Boxwood, Eugenia, Dwarf Mock Orange, and Dwarf Holly must be planted and maintained. Formal, vertical shapes such as Dwarf Italian Cypress and Junipers are excellent choices. Privets and Viburnums make good taller hedges, but the smaller the leaf structure, the better. Lawn in the back yard garden is important for balance and affording an area for recreation. Crape Myrtle and Weeping Birch trees, planted in straight rows, or soldiered in pairs at ends of the patio, work nicely in the French garden.
A section of your garden may be dedicated to shrubs pruned into formal geometric forms or animal shapes as you desire. Or, depending on the size of your yard, you can add one to five topiary specimens as focal points throughout the garden.