Elegant Garden Decor Tips that Suit Your Style | Platt Hill Nursery | Chicago | Blog & Advice

Our gardens are always more than just a bunch of plants. Like with our interior decor, we can also infuse our gardens with our unique style. That style may match the decor of our house or provide a complimentary contrast. With the following tips and inspiration, you can choose specific plants, design techniques, and decor to give your garden its own elegance and personality!  


Eight Inspiration Sources for Illinois Gardens

If you’re in need of a bit of decor inspiration, these eight design styles and themes might just give you the ideas you’re looking for! Remember: garden decor doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Instead, feel free to pick and choose elements from a wide variety of these techniques to create a personality and sense of style unique to you and your garden. 


Classical garden designs-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

1. Classical Gardens 

Although they’re not as popular nowadays, certain classical garden elements still make lovely additions to contemporary landscape designs. Although most people consider them overly formal, classical gardens actually have a rich repertoire of techniques for bringing a simple elegance to your yard. Try experimenting with some topiaries or perfectly sculpted hedges as accent pieces, or add in a statue, fountain, bird bath, or vine-covered archway as a beautiful focal point.


2. Bohemian Decor 

Originating among the traveling artists of 19th-century Paris, the bohemian style is an eclectic mix of vintage, artsy, and eccentric elements. Inside, this could include elements like a vintage couch, antique lamp, and 1960s floral wallpaper. Out in your garden, this approach brings together unusual plants in new and unlikely combinations, like ferns mixed with coral bells, hostas, and a plum tree. Add in a set of string lights and a rustic bench, and you’ve got yourself an elegant bohemian garden.   


cottage garden designs-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

3. Cottage Garden 

Quaint, cozy, humble, yet abundant, this traditional house and garden style will always have a place in our hearts. It is known for its profusion of plant life and natural elements, like stone walkways and fences. 

Cottage gardens feature classic flowers like roses, peonies, daylilies, daisies, poppies, Hydrangea flowers, and hollyhocks. Vines climbing over fences and sheds is a common theme. They also include flower boxes below windows and fragrant herbs like sage, catmint, thyme, and dill. Whether you’ve got a cottage house to match the aesthetic or just love this style, it offers timeless inspiration for any gardener.  


4. Modern Decor

Originating in the mid-twentieth century, the modern decor movement emphasized simplicity, clean lines, functionalism, and minimalism—elements that are still incredibly popular today. Modern decor gardens feature the tidy rows of plantings found in classical gardens, but without their signature symmetry or formality. Each bed has definite boundaries but can include a variety of plants. Also, modern gardens are understated and emphasize foliage over flowers, in stark contrast to the profusion of plant life found in cottage-style gardens. Nevertheless, modern decor is harmonious, elegant, and often low-maintenance.  


Japanese garden designs-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

5. Japanese Garden  

Japanese and Zen gardens have long been regarded for their elegant, peaceful style that is at once simple yet alluringly complex. Plantings in Japanese gardens follow patterns of balanced asymmetry and include depth, texture, and color contrasts that change throughout the season to bring mystery and magic to your space. A keen attention to proportion gives a sense of balance, even with asymmetrical designs. Other key elements of Japanese and Zen gardens are enclosed spaces and curving paths—which bring coziness, comfort, and privacy—as well as water and rock features. Even if you don’t make your whole yard Japanese, you can still borrow a few of these key features from this elegant school of design. 


Feel free to pick and choose elements from a wide variety of these techniques to create a personality and sense of style unique to you and your garden.

6. Farmhouse Decor 

A cousin to cottage style, farmhouse decor brings accents of naturalism, quaintness, and humility to your design but with a rustic, country twist. They often include a large tree, like an oak or maple, a vegetable plot, a wooden wheelbarrow, and porch planters on the front steps. They can also feature a fruit tree orchard and berry bushes. The emphasis is less on an abundance of flowers and more on the natural use of shrubs and perennials to bring a level-headed but healthy and vibrant elegance to your yard.  


Backyard garden design-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

7. Mediterranean Garden

Although we don’t exactly live in a Mediterranean climate, we can still borrow elements of this style for our landscapes. The Mediterranean garden style hinges on creating shady areas and incorporating water features to escape the heat and regulate your space’s climate, along with the heavy use of drought-tolerant plants. A few good examples include sage, lavender, lady’s mantle, thyme, rosemary, ornamental grasses, cranesbill geranium, and juniper. 

Mediterranean decor also emphasizes the use of warm-colored stones and brickwork, often with a weathered look. We can certainly look to Mediterranean decor for elegant inspiration during our hot summers.   


8. Prairie Style 

If you’re looking for garden design inspiration, you don’t always have to go abroad; prairie gardens and oak-savanna landscapes are two important styles that we can borrow from the incredible nature and landscapes of our home ecoregion of Illinois! With a prairie design, we can enjoy the abundance of native plants adapted for our region while creating a uniquely Illinois style. Tickseed, asters, goldenrod, alumroot, wild bergamot, coneflowers, milkweed, and black-eyed Susans are just a few of the many native perennials we can use to create a prairie wildflower garden, while oaks, black cherries, serviceberries, and dogwoods are perfect additions for that natural savanna landscape look.


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What Makes a Great Chicagoland Garden? 

Ultimately, there’s no formula or set of steps you can follow to make a great garden design. It’s a creative project that you can personalize to create a style and aesthetic that is unique and pleasing to you. Every garden design offers elements you can pull from to decorate your yard; however, the end result should always be something you love. 

If you need advice on choosing the perfect plants for your unique outdoor aesthetic, or you’re just looking for more elegant garden decor tips, please visit our garden centers in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville!


Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.