Formal gardens take some planning and extra work to maintain. But the results will be enjoyed for many years to come. Come see some of the elements found in the Kauffman Memorial Garden in Kansas City and be inspired.

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Formal Garden Design Elements

What you’re looking at here is a very formal garden. The thing about formal gardens is that they’re easy to put together, but they’re hard to maintain. They take a lot of effort.

But, you can see behind me that there are pyramidal junipers that have been set as sentries to allow you into the next part of the garden. The fountain is the inviting part to get you into the first part of the courtyard. The sentries then tell you that there is a second courtyard to go into.

Behind me, you can see that there is a nice reflecting pool with statuary. And on the way through there, the entrance way is all whites, grays, and neutral tones. When you beyond that you can see the different colors of purples, pinks and brighter colors that draw your eye in deeper.

There is also a lot more detail when you get inside. If you look in the back corner you’ll see the spiral shaped evergreens. They’re there for character and interest. But, there is also textures in the plant material. So, you’ll have large leaf plants, small leaved plants, different colors, and different textures. Some of them are feathery, and some are smooth. Some are very hairy. You almost want to touch them because they are so interesting.

All those things take a lot more maintenance work. Just look at the beauty of this place. The serenity of the water, the sound, the views – It’s an amazing garden. So, if you have the time, effort, and money to put together a formal garden, this is what you can create. It’s wonderful.

This feature story prepared with Jamie Hancock, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Shawnee County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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