TYPES OF GARDENS: Productive garden design

In history, there were two major types of productive gardens, at the low end, we had the cottage gardens and some small areas of private gardens where produce was grown to complement food sources and also as a hobby. On the high end, we had large Victorian gardens with massive walls that supplied vegetables, fruits and flowers for parties and events.

Productive garden design

The Victorians really invested in productive gardens although this kind of garden did not originate from them. In France, Renaissance gardens produced decorative produce in potagers which are classy parterres. The word ‘potagers’ is still used today to refer to lovely productive gardens. The gardens of abbeys in the Medieval era had little vegetable and herb beds with a little decorative gardening involved.

During the Second World War, there was a Dig For Victory campaign that increased the rate at which homegrown vegetables and fruits were harvested. But food supplies increased after the war and this effort died down. But there has been an increased awareness on the desirability of organic produce and productive gardens are slowly making a comeback.

Productive garden designs include an orderly layout consisting of geometric beds that include paths for maintenance and easy access. The materials used differ, but most of them are strictly utilitarian. They include brick pathways, concrete slabs and compacted earth. Greenhouses and cold frames are used to protect plants that aren’t that strong and for plants still at infancy level. The types of plants changes per season but bushes and fruit trees are usually grown all year round.

Herbs that tend to spread round can be controlled by the use of low box hedges. Irrigation water is also used as a decorative element in such gardens.

Productive gardens contain a functional surface and layout creating a large sense of order. In history, there has been physic gardens and monastic gardens that are divided into various geometric beds filled with medicinal and culinary vegetables and herbs along with taller plants like rose and bay tree that are planted as a point of focus.

The attractive and practical designs are still being used today. Concrete, stone and brick are used to make the pathways. Pathways are usually wide and they can accommodate wheelbarrows and they provide a lot of space for one to work on the beds. Hedging is provided by timber and dwarf box hedging. The best productive garden designs have beautiful rows of plants, well-arranged pathways and lovely interplanting of crops making them visually appealing as a garden and productive endeavors that produce healthy food.


In the last hundreds of years, productive planting was just an alternative that was kept at one section of a major garden to give trees, flowers and plants a nice home. But, people now realize that productive gardens are great for growing healthy food and they also save money by growing expensive and unavailable food like redcurrants.

To manage productive gardens well, their garden design needs to be well planned. The flower beds must be planted with various crops every year so the soil won’t get weakened. Garden designers can also use cold frames and greenhouses so the planting season can be extended. For a more flowery feel in the garden, dahlias, nasturtiums, lavender hedging and other ornamental plants can be grown.

Instead of using box hedging, dwarf apples and other fruit trees can be used to create divisions between different areas of the garden. There could also be training along wires to create beautiful screens that accommodate both fruits and flowers along with a nice architectural framework for the winter season.

Productive garden design 2


This garden design involves the crops in rows creating a rectilinear pattern that is visually appealing. Clipped hedging and runner beans support can be used to enclose various sections and the garden can be made more colorful with the addition of lavender and dahlias.


Modern productive gardens have their root in the walled kitchen gardens of large country houses. The wealthy people in the Victorian era showcased their wealth by serving their guests with rare household produce. The gardens were also a source of food for the entire household.

The garden design saw the crops being laid out in geometric beds arranged in boxes and separated by gravel, ash and beaten earth paths. South facing walls that radiated heat were used as anchor points where tender fruit trees were planted. The fruit trees were positioned this way to protect them from hard frosts. Soft fruits were planted under netted frames to protect them from birds.

The garden design saw greenhouses being incorporated into the wall structure to accommodate early crops and tender crops like apricots and peaches.


Obelisks, trellis and other ornamental features can be used in the garden design to create rhythm and height in the garden. They also provide support for sweet peas, runner eans and other climbers.



Raised beds are used to make drainages better and create a sense of order. The raised beds had an increased height of 1m or 3 ft. giving disabled people better access to their gardens.



Pathways are a minimum of 1m or 3 ft. wide so that movement within the garden can be easy. Gravel, bricks, stone slabs and other hard surfaces are perfect as they can withstand everyday use.



Plant pots and terra-cotta rhubarb forcers provide practical decoration in the productive garden. There can be arches for cordons and patterned pebble or brick paths to provide additional decoration in the garden.



Planting of crops should be in rows so they can be well cared for and harvested easily. It also helps to keep good records. The spaces will also make it easy to remove weeds. The geometric garden design of crops in rows makes the garden unique.


Also read: The right approach to create a Perfect garden design.