Create A Mediterranean Garden Design

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The Mediterranean brings to mind hot sun, vivid colors, natural materials and a relaxed, tranquil feeling. A Mediterranean yard typically has a great deal of ceramic, stone or concrete hardscape, with paved or gravel surfaces taking the place of a lawn. Touches of bright blue bring to mind the sea, and add cool touches against the bleached terracotta and earthy shades that predominate in the hardscape.

The climate in the Mediterranean is very hot and dry through the summer, mild and rainy during the winter. In the United States, Southern California shares this climate, but you can design a yard with Mediterranean flair in any part of the country.


Fountains are an integral part of the Mediterranean garden. The sound of gently splashing water is soothing and cooling during the long, hot summers. Even a small fountain in terracotta or white stone will add style to your garden. Look for wall fountains with lion heads, Roman or Italian designs, or a tiered fountain with a classic shape.


Containers full of flowers, herbs and plants are common in the Mediterranean garden, and even empty pots make interesting garden art. Terracotta and stone pots are the most authentic, and glazed ceramic pots in cobalt blue or with mosaic designs add color and interest.

If you live in a cold winter climate, take advantage of this style to grow typical Mediterranean plants that would not survive the winter in your area, and bring them into a protected place through the cold weather.


A bench made of teak or rustic wood is a must for your Mediterranean garden, especially if placed under a pergola or arch covered with vines. Shade is important in hot climates, and a place to rest and enjoy the garden while protected from the sun will become your favorite spot to sit and enjoy your yard.

If your yard is large enough, create a small gravel path leading to your seating area.

Ready for Planting Finished Product


Start with a courtyard-feel patio floored with patterned brick or natural tile. Surround it with gravel, and large terracotta pots filled with colorful flowers and small shrubs. Set trellises against the wall with climbing roses, bougainvillea, or other flowering vines.

Now sit and relax near a fire pit made of stone or brick, or black wrought iron if not a permanent fixture. With the tinkling of water from the nearby fountain, and the simple, natural design, you could almost be by the bright blue sea.


Incorporate just one or two statues in your yard, keeping the scale appropriate to the size of your home. Tuck statues into your planting beds where they are easily seen from the patio or seating area.

Traditional designs work best, so look for themes such as Ancient Rome or Greece, rabbits, horses or lions. Use statues made of natural materials, or faux materials that resemble natural stone, granite or terracotta.


Trees break up the line of your garden, adding height and form to your landscape. Some of the signature trees in a Mediterranean yard include:

  • Olive
  • Lemon
  • Cypress
  • Bay
  • Juniper
  • Eucalyptus

While these might not thrive in cold winter areas, you can substitute trees with similar growth pattern or appearance.


Shrubs provide the basic structure to your landscape, providing interest, color and form. Mediterranean gardens are not generally lushly planted, but use greenery as focal points around the yard. Typical shrubs include:

  • Oleander
  • Buddleia
  • Callistemon
  • Nandina
  • Pomegranate
  • Roses
  • Bottlebrush
  • Yucca

Many of these can be grown in containers if they are not hardy in your gardening zone.


Terracotta or mosaic-designed pots filled with herbs not only bring Mediterranean style to your yard; they are also useful for cooking and medicinal uses. Fill a blue glazed pot with a variety of basil plants, or combine popular cooking herbs such as marjoram, sage, oregano and thyme. Be sure to include rosemary in your yard, it's a staple in the Mediterranean garden.

Grow mint in a container to control its rampant growth, and include chamomile and lemon balm to make a relaxing tea. Perfect for sipping while you sit and enjoy your Mediterranean backyard.


Colorful flowers add excitement to your yard, and provide contrast to the earth tones of the hardscape. Lavender is a must in the Mediterranean yard, and with so many varieties, you can find one that will thrive in your area. Grow lavender in pots, or in the ground with other Mediterranean feeling flowers:

  • Gazania
  • Geraniums
  • Salvia
  • Dusty Miller
  • Cuphea
  • Morning Glory
  • Coreopsis
  • Kaffir Lily
  • Scaevola

A Mediterranean garden is at home in any hot, dry-summer, warm, wet-winter area, but even if you are outside those zones, you can develop a Mediterranean feel by sticking with lots of terracotta, natural stone and tile, fountains, pots and statues, and sparsely planted beds with a combination of plant shapes and sizes.

Last Updated: September 22, 2011
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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