Provençal-style gardens: the basic elements needed to recreate this style in your garden

by Mark Bennett

April 15, 2024

Provençal gardens: the basic elements

Amongst the most popular and copied of garden styles in the world, there is the Provençal garden style: characteristic of the south of France, this style is now very popular in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean region, but also around the world. These gardens make one think of sun-kissed paradises where you can spend your time in relaxing in serenity, far from the chaos of the city.  So, what what are a "proper" elements a Provençal-styled garden must have? Well read on to find out more:

outdoor lounge at a Provençal house


Whether you have a small plot of land or a large garden, the charm of the Provençal style can be recreated almost anywhere. All it needs is some attention to details (which can be adapted to local conditions), and especially with regard to the choice of natural materials used or plant species cultivated.


1. Dry, stone walls

stone stairs and dry stone walls


Let's start with fixed structures: whether these are border walls, embankments or fences that close off different areas (the stairs, flowerbeds, and similar), they should be made of dry stone, with mostly square blocks in light colors - perfect for location which exposed to the sun for many months a year.

Depending on the role they play, you can DIY these stone structures, especially if the structure is not too large and/or load-bearing (which should be erected by experts, of course).

2. Terracotta flooring

a section of outdoor, terracotta flooring

Provençal-styled gardens typically have areas (like the outdoor dining area) paved with stone - the same stone as used for the walls and staircases. Alternatively, terracotta flooring and paving is perfectly suited to this style.

3. Mediterranean vegetation: olive trees and lavender

a glimpse of a Provençal-styled garden


Here, Mediterranean plants stand out against a  backdrop of natural stone, which also extends to the gravel of the winding garden paths. In fact, these plants are arguably the focal points of these gardens.

Queen amost these plants is the lavender - a fragrant plant, much beloved by pollinating insects. Various types of aromatic herbs are also suitable, and, in particular, rosemary. As for trees, however, there is a clear preference for short-trunk species, like olive trees (which provide partial shade).


a garden with cypresses and lavender


Amongst the tall trees in a Provençal-styled garden, you will often see elegant cypresses: these trees decorate beautifully and don't take up too much space! Other trees you may see are fruit-bearing ones, and above all, fig trees are very popular given how robust and easy-to-cultivate they are.


4. Flowered pergolas

pergola with bougainvillea in a Provençal garden


Close to the walls of the house, there is often a pergola that provides valuable shade during the hot summers. And helping to create this shade are climbing plants that transform the pergola into a wonderful flowering feature.

You might immediately think of the wisteria as a prime candidate for this decoration, but bougainvillea, or even grape vines will be equally attractive.

5. Creepers on the walls

climbing rose plants on the exterior stone wall of a Provençal house


Speaking of climbers and creepers: in addition to those that grow on pergolas, there are very often trellises present that allow beautiful flowers to grow on the walls of houses, or perhaps along a fence.

Bare walls are perfect for creeper/climbing roses and clematis, but obviously, can also accommodate other flowering species that may be native to your region.


6. Arched pergolas over the garden paths

a dining area under an arched pergola, adorned with climbing plants

Common to Provençal-styled gardens are arched pergolas adorned with creepers (see above), which not only cover garden paths but also act as a "roof" for outdoor dining areas.

Depending on your needs, it is possible to cultivate creeping plants that create a thick covering during the warmer months - and probably best avoiding using species that create a mess (with resin drippings, for example). Those used to cover garden paths should be a little less dense as thick canopies could hinder the growth of other nearby plants!

7. Fountains

a limestone fountain


In the most beautiful of Provençal gardens, a relatively large water fountain is a decorative element that often dominates the central area. That said, small water fountains can also frequently be found hidden in corners, shielded by shrubs and hedges. A fountain made from a stone basin with a vintage tap is one option; a more modern fountain design can be achieved (and one you can DIY) by using a terracotta amphorae (to be placed in the center of a flower bed, for example).

Would you like to create a Provençal-styled garden?