Landscaping with lavender: 16 ways to use this classic in your planting design
Finding out about landscaping with lavender is a must to add months of color and scent to your garden design
Whatever your garden style there's always room for some landscaping with lavender. It's equally at home planted in loose drifts in a Mediterranean or cottage garden, and works well clipped into smart geometric designs in modern urban spaces too. It's also the queen of containers and window boxes to dress up the front of the house.
Lavender looks great used as repeat planting to divide up or add interest to herb gardens. Lavender itself is actually a herb and is related the mint family which accounts for the fact it slots so beautifully into herb garden designs.
It can also be used as low hedging to zone flower beds, as well as for edging paths and framing the approach to entrances, so you get hit by a waft of fragrance every time you pass by. If you're interested in creating a sensory or wildlife garden landscaping with lavender is a must too, as it attracts pollinators in their droves.
Lavender can easily be worked into your landscaping ideas and has been grown in gardens since late medieval times, so no wonder it's popular as that kind of track record speaks for itself. The scented spikes of blue, mauve and purple (and occasionally white) flowers bloom right through summer too.
16 design ideas for landscaping with lavender
Everyone loves lavender. 'It's one of my favourite plants to grow to create a beautiful cottage garden,' says plant expert Sarah Raven. 'The variety 'Hidcote’ is the most floriferous of the compact lavenders, with lovely purple-blue flowers. It's perfect to line the front of a sunny border or planted up in pots. It's incredibly scented too, and rich in pollen and nectar for much of the summer, so bees and butterflies love it.'
We've brought together all the inspiration you need for your own garden, whether you're searching for front yard landscaping ideas to add curb appeal, or simple ways to beautify your space in an instant with some gorgeous lavender planting ideas.
1. Design a garden path with lavender borders
Every garden path needs an edging of lavender that you can brush your fingers through as you walk by. 'Whenever lavender is used it's always important to ensure that at least some is planted close to a path so that the delicious scent is released as you brush past,' says landscape designer Helen Elks-Smith, who appears regularly on the BBC's Your Garden Made Perfect.
Edging a path with lavender plants looks so pretty too. Making the planting symmetrical so that both sides match as much as possible is a design trick that works every time for stunning garden path ideas, especially if you're looking for a professional looking finishing touch.
2. Try underplanting trees with lavender
Why leave soil bare when you can make the most of the space underneath trees by filling it with pretty plants. This layered look maximizes interest and is known as ‘underplanting’. It's a great way of landscaping around trees by introducing a tapestry of plants.
It’s good for cramming more color and plants into a small garden when space is tight too. Plus of course it means less weeding, as the extra layer of plants around the base of the tree helps to stop weeds from growing.
Choose two or three plants that work well together with the shrub or tree you want to underplant, in terms of color, shape and texture. Lavender is always a winner and here it's paired with flowering chives to create an eye-catching display.
3. Let lavender tumble over walls
Imagine an old stone garden wall baking in the sunshine with lavender bushes growing next to it. It's a staple look in cottage gardens, where of course fragrance is the cornerstone of any design and helps to attract pollinators too.
It's easy to transform dull boundaries with the best plants for garden walls and lavender definitely fits into this category. Although it's not the type of plant to cling to walls or settle in crevices, soft cushions of lavender will thrive next to a sunny wall or in raised wall beds, particularly if situated in a sunny spot.
4. Choose partner plants that lavender loves
'Lavender is really useful when designing planting schemes,' says landscape designer Helen Elks-Smith. 'Well known as a traditional companion for landscaping with roses and when combined with herbaceous plants such as delphiniums, salvia Caradonna and fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus), it creates a gentle, pretty scheme.'
Here Helen uses lavender plants that are just coming into flower and illustrates how alliums can be great companion plants to extend the season of interest. Combining lavender with other plants like santolina ‘Edward Bowles’ with its cream button-like flowers and purple sage (Salvia officinalis Purpurascens) will take the scheme in another direction altogether giving a more Mediterranean look and feel to your landscaping with lavender ideas.
5. Plant lavender around seats
Every garden needs a comfortable place to sit, somewhere you can enjoy being immersed in all it has to offer. The planting can add a sensory experience to the enjoyment of the garden, somewhere that offers a restful interlude for your outdoor seating ideas.
Scented plants come into their own in spaces like this and none more so than lavender. 'Every garden smells better with lavender,' says Sarah Squire of Squire's Garden Centres. 'This evergreen shrub brings long-lasting colour and scent in summer, and attracts bees and butterflies in droves. It's one of our most sought-after plants.'
The best variety to choose is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is strongly scented, and covered in masses of purple-blue flowers with silvery-grey leaves. Favorite varieties include ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’.
6. Add lavender to a herb garden
If you're looking for lovely herb garden ideas try including lavender in the mix. It's a magnet for pollinating insects so will attract all the right visitors. Plus of course lavender itself is a herb so it will slot seamlessly into the mix.
When you've chosen a bed for your herb garden add repeat planting of lavender throughout in a loose and naturalistic style to tie together the design.
Alternatively show off the beauty of a lavender and herb mix with a more formal design in a potager garden. Since ancient times herb gardens have been laid out in geometric patterns and this parterre style suits small urban gardens really well.
Featuring low evergreen boundaries of plants such as trimmed lavender is one of the easiest herb garden designs to get right too and is also a great way of landscaping with lavender.
7. Border steps with lavender
Framing steps either side with swathes of uniform planting is a really eye-catching design. The idea of creating a stairway of flowers is one of our favorite looks when landscaping with hydrangeas too.
There is quite a choice when it comes to lavender varieties to use to create a look like this. The hardy, low-growing 'Hidcote' is a good choice for garden edging ideas but the main thing to remember is that all lavender varieties love a sunny position. So give your lavender what it needs by making it feel at home in a sheltered sun trap that offers protection.
8. Include lavender in a sensory garden design
The soft mauve-blue palette and beautiful scent of lavender, as well as the soothing buzz of bees hovering over the flowers on a summer’s day, are a heavenly addition to any garden but particularly for sensory garden ideas.
The best variety to choose is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is strongly scented, and covered in masses of purple-blue flowers with silvery-grey leaves. Favourite varieties for scent include ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’.
French lavender (Lavandula stoecha) has flowers that are a different shape to the English varieties, topped by pretty feathery tufts, but their scent is not as strong.
Find out how to take lavender cuttings and you can get even more lavender for planting in drifts in your sensory garden.
9. Landscape with lavender in a rock garden
Soft cushions of planting interspersed with pebbles and rocks is a landscaping with lavender choice that suits most spaces and can be left to evolve from year to year. It's one of the low maintenance garden border ideas that takes inspiration from the natural scenery of the Mediterranean.
If you're landscaping with river rocks, the gaps between the stones will soon be colonized by drifts of low-growing lavender which helps your landscaping design subtly evolve into a naturalistic and wild look.
How much your lavender plants will spread varies significantly according to the variety and whether they are receiving the right care, primarily in terms of sunlight, soil and regular pruning.
10. Introduce a smartly clipped border
Imagine the wonderful scent and color you would enjoy on warm days right through summer if you were passing by on your way to this garden retreat!
A border of lavender works particularly well as a smart lawn edging idea and for zoning different areas of the garden.
As well as looking good it's a great low maintenance garden design option too. Remember that gravel isn’t just for driveways and paths. Use it as a decorative mulch in the border to show off plants like lavender really well. If you spread a thick layer of gravel on top of a weed suppressing membrane it cuts down on garden chores too.
11. Frame a doorway with lavender
As you walk up your path one of the most welcoming sensations on arriving home is being hit by a waft of delicious fragrance. Planting lavender is one of the best front porch ideas to really give your entrance the standout factor whether you decide to opt for a traditional or more modern garden design.
Landscaping with lavender around doors and windows will fill your garden with delicious scent and soft color hues all summer long in a way that's reminiscent of sun-baked settings in Provence.
12. Put lavender top for Med-inspired gardens
Plants that work for Mediterranean garden ideas predominantly love hot and sunny conditions with free-draining soil. This suits lavender perfectly. Typically it will have a gravel mulch to help keep any moisture in the soil and reduce the need for watering.
Lavender is a key component in Mediterranean gardens design-wise too, as repeat planting adds, shape and form creating a rhythm that guides the eye through the planting for a cohesive feel.
‘To create a mid-layer plant lavender, together with cistus, santolina and euphorbia,' suggests Åsa Gregers-Warg, head gardener at Beth Chatto. 'Add splashes of colour with agapanthus, nepeta and bearded iris, while Verbena bonariensis and Russian sage make superb vertical shapes.’
To introduce softness, try landscaping with grasses using ornamental Stipa gigantea and Stipa tenuissima, which both work really well with lavender.
13. Mix lavender plants with topiary
Strong structural elements like evergreen topiary paired with lavender has been used for centuries in grand country gardens, but the same technique can be used to great effect in smaller gardens too.
Smart clipped topiary such as lollipop-shaped trees and low hedging contrasted with beds of soft planting works by introducing a touch of elegance to landscaping with lavender ideas.
‘Clipped evergreens make a wonderful, neutral backdrop and a foil for looser planting around them,’ says award-winning landscape designer Robert Myers . Enclosing softly billowing lavender plants in a framework of clipped green foliage simply amplifies its beauty.
14. Use lavender for ground cover
Low-growing varieties of lavender can be mixed in with other flowers and planted densely in garden borders and beds as hard working ground cover plants. Not only does this give the effect of full planting (the idea is no bare soil should be seen) but it means there's less chance of weeds popping up too.
Aim to create a tapestry effect by using different flowers and foliage to add interesting shapes and textures. Choose the best low maintenance ground cover plants and you will create a beautiful garden that will virtually take care of itself.
Using ground cover plants is one of our favorite cheap landscaping ideas too.
15. Create a wow factor front yard with lavender
One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your home is to smarten up the front garden by giving it a makeover. This is where landscaping with lavender comes in. It will create a welcoming entrance as well as being an easy low-maintenance option that looks both modern and stylish.
Symmetry and structure are key when it comes to designing a smart front garden, and when it comes to planting keeping it simple is often the way to go for the best results. Well-defined flower beds, solid areas of planting and straight lines are a good starting point, and this works for small front garden ideas too.
Opt for a neat and formal look with clearly defined lavender beds. Think about how your house can be framed by planting and what can be quickly installed to enhance the facade such as elegant potted topiary to contrast with the soft beds of lavender.
16. Mix up old and new
Sometimes the best garden design ideas mix up themes such as modern and new. Lavender is one of the best plants for rockeries, which are essentially an old classic that are being dressed up fresh for 2022 by using on-trend garden gravel ideas such as white chippings for a very contemporary smart new look.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design, she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own space where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.
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