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Design Ideas for a garden in Italy

Hi All

First admission, I am not a gardener and I need some design ideas for a formal 'ish' garden in Italy.

We are very lucky to have a small olive grove in southern Italy, approx 9000sqm with 100 ancient olive trees producing the most wonderful oil. We have fought the local planners for 8 years to build a small extension and pool and finally last year we won and I have just finished the building work.

Money is now tight so it is going to have to be a DIY garden. We would just like to create a formal garden around the house and pool. We of course have some ideas (mainly hard landscaping) but need some inspiration.

Now I don't know if this forum is the right place to come for this help but if it is, and we adopt someone's ideas, as a thank you, we would like to offer a free week's holiday for two at the house, so that they can see the ideas in the flesh. Once finished, although the property will be let to pay some of the bills it will also be made available FOC to those who cannot afford it but need some respite.

As I said I don't know if this is the right place to post for this kind of help, so I won't give anymore detail at this stage but will just upload one picture to give an idea of how blank a canvas it is.




  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,175

    Hi Pugliese - what a stunning project, and it already looks fantastic. image

    Difficult to really make suggestions as such, but if the property is for letting, I think a basic framework of greenery in a formal design will be the best way to go. Maintenance is going to be tricky if you have anything too fussy or involving lots of pruning, staking, feeding and maintenance.

    I expect you've already done a little homework on Italianate gardens of that style. A simple parterre of box hedging, with suitable perennials in the spaces and a line of cypress would be what I'd go for. How you lay that out would depend on the aspect and where you want features, ie from that terrace, bordering the pool, would be nice for the cypress. The parterre could be in between those or on another side of the building. Statues, or large pots with appropriate easy care annuals, or matching evergreens are  features you may want to add at some point depending on your finances.

    Don't know if that's of any help, or what you have in mind, but the old adage of right plant, right place is always a good starting point, so take a look at what other planting is around you too - if any!  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    Of course its some help, thank you, and thank you for your comments. When you have been consumed with fighting the authorities over ridiculous rules you do lose sight of the fact that it is a fantastic place.

    You are quite correct about maintenance, that does need to be low level. Greenery is also a tricky one, as there are true seasons there and without daily watering, the grass just goes brown between June and September, so a form of sedum may be the answer or even false grass ( I guess that is a sacrilege thing to say on this site!)

    Anyway, I think I will try and scan in a plan with notes and upload a few more pictures, so that anyone looking in will have a better idea.

  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 6,234

    Would a scree garden be a possibility as an alternative to a brown and crispy lawn?


    This kind of thing with plants that can thrive in parched conditions. It'll take a little research for the appropriate plants but I'm sure someone on here will know.

    I'm not very good at garden design but I know that if you don't plant for your conditions you're heading for disappointment.

  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    That's an interesting idea and one thing there is plenty of is limestone rocks.

    I also agree you have to use the local planting. Oleander thrives here, its planted in the central reservation on dual carriageways - of course being poisonous it could be a risk.  Also bougainvillea, vines etc. In fact it can be quite wet here, its just in summer that it goes arrid.

    Let me try and find a plan to upload

  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    Here is the plan and the following notes

    North is at the top.

    The red line denotes where we plan to build a 1.8m dry stone wall.  This is to give some privacy from the road and also enclose the area close to the house where there are 5 x olive trees.  We thought that we would grass/sedum under the trees with perhaps a bench and an informal path off the terrace.

    The green line denotes where  the dry stone wall starts to reduce in height until it is flush with the land

    The black dashed line denotes the are where I think the formal garden will finish.

    to the left of the pool it shows a nut tree, that had to be removed (not happy)

    Bottom right on the plan close to the boundary with our neighbour is our septic tank. This needs to be hidden.

    At the left hand corner of the pool is the pump room, this also needs hiding.

    I will now load some pictures to try and put the plan in context


  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    This picture shows the aspect over the pool to the land and also the pump room


    This picture shows where the 1.8 m dry stone wall will go (in front of the car)


  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    here is the eastern side and septic tank


    here is a view from the west


    variety of pics from the south


  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9

    Any ideas and suggestions most welcome and if anyone is good at design, I meant what I said re offering a couple a free weeks holiday.

    BTW the olive trees have just been given a severe prune as yields were dropping, Next year they will look beautiful.

    Finally a rendition


  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,126

    That property is crying out for drifts of wild flowers, grasses and mediterranean shrubs that can be kept under control with a strimmer and hedgetrimmer. Rustling in the wind and sending out wafts of heavenly scent.

  • PugliesePugliese Posts: 9
    Ceres says:

    That property is crying out for drifts of wild flowers, grasses and mediterranean shrubs that can be kept under control with a strimmer and hedgetrimmer. Rustling in the wind and sending out wafts of heavenly scent.

    See original post

     Couldn't agree more, the problem is that I really don'y have a clue when it comes to plants and garden design

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