A classic Mediterranean garden is known for its low-maintenance, drought tolerant, and above all charming plants, which makes it ideal for regions with a long dry summer. Moreover, it promotes outdoor living with its shade-giving structures that include pergolas, arbors, and loggias and thus it has been a popular choice of people who like hosting parties and events.

Common Plants of Mediterranean Garden

The ideal plants for Mediterranean gardens are drought-resistant and low-maintenance that still provide an abundance of color and texture. Did anyone bring snacks? Not a problem because most Mediterranean Gardens include edibles such as herbs, grapes, figs, and olives should also be incorporated to add not just charm but also to create a perfumed environment.

Moreover, much of the foliage is finely textured (i.e., needle-shaped), which allows the plants to conserve moisture during hot spells. Another part of their water-conserving adaptation is the film-like coating of their leaves that give the garden a shimmering appearance especially in the morning twilight and dusk.

Iconic plants and trees synonymous with a beautiful Mediterranean garden include lavender, rosemary, citrus, and olives, all of which can be planted in terracotta pots.

Meanwhile, read on the list of the most popular drought-tolerant plants and trees used in this pragmatic, water-wise garden style.


An aromatic herb with a finely cut foliage

Italian Cypress

A slender, elegant tree that can grow 40-60 feet


A fast-growing evergreen shrub that thrives on neglect and very little water

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Great for accent plant borders with its wiry blades

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A perennial plant known for its pleasing scent and vibrant flowers

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An aromatic evergreen shrub with long stalks, dissected leaves, and button-shaped flower heads

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Its sword-like leaves give texture and movement to your garden

Red Yucca Hesperaloe Parviflora Bush Live Rooted Plant 6-10 Inches...
  • Specifications: Hesperaloe Parviflora, Height Growth Average 2-4 Feet, Pot Size 2.5 x 2.5 Inch, Evergreen, Perennial
  • Basic Care: We recommend only watering once the soil goes completely dry. Typically, this plant can handle any sunlight,...
  • Blooming Season: Growth speed is slow. The duration until the flowering date of this plant may be around 5-10 years,...


An edible, perennial herb that has needle-like and fragrant leaves

Bonnie Plants Rosemary Live Edible Aromatic Herb Plant - 4 Pack,...
  • Tiny, strongly aromatic & flavorful leaves, blue blooms
  • Garden use: Herb garden, flower border, containers, low clipped hedge
  • Culinary use: Italian & Mediterranean dishes, vinegars & oils, breads

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A 3′-4′ ft height bushy shrub that has velvet-like purple flower spikers

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Lamb's Ear

A spreading, low-growing plant with pale and silvery green foliage

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Its green, aromatic leaves are used for seasoning

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You may notice that a typical Mediterranean garden is dotted with edibles. After all, during ancient times incorporating food production in gardens and outdoor living areas was the norm. This allows one to

Edibles also perfume your garden, further adding to its charm and relaxing ambiance.

To further stay true to the design, your Mediterranean garden should have no or very little lawn.

Mediterranean Garden–The Aesthetics

Because the Mediterranean region is known for its scorching sun and drying winds, its key design elements include shade-giving shelters and structures and walls and other enclosures.

Shade-giving shelters

Structures such as loggias and pergolas are the staple features of a classic Mediterranean garden. Arbors and arcades with flowering vines can also serve as a shelter from the intense summer heat and at the same time gives an additional charm to your outdoor living area.

High Walls

Aside from giving the much-needed shade, high-walled enclosures also protect your garden from the drying winds and other harsh elements. While this key element is commonly used in Italy, Greece, and Spain, it remains practical in the Southwestern part of the US with its arid to semi-arid climate.

High enclosures can also give you a sense of refuge and intimacy, allowing you to enjoy your Mediterranean Garden peacefully and privately.

Shaded Seating Areas

The shaded seating areas serve as an inviting extension of your house, making alfresco dining in the garden a mandatory event at least once a week. To further achieve a classic Mediterranean garden, climbing plants with dainty perfumed flowers that cover pergolas and arbors must also be added.

Placing the seated areas around mature trees is another great way to promote outdoor living, making your garden a perfect place to relax on a balmy summer night or to sip a cup of warm tea at the break of dawn.

Ball Courts

Staying true to the outdoor living, you may fit your garden with a bocce ball court, which is almost similar to a lawn bowling court. This involves 2-8 players who have to hit the ball closest to the jack. But if this doesn’t appeal to you, you may opt for other outdoor games such as giant chess sets and other life-size board games.

Local Stones

Ancient Mediterranean gardens reflected their natural surroundings–i.e., hillsides with rocky cliffs and boulders. Hence, it makes sense to choose locally sourced materials, which not only can reduce your carbon footprint but also allow you to cut cost.

Tiles and Ironwork

Moors brought the design to Spain. Tiles with intricate patterns that vaguely resemble the shape of flowers, shrubs, and trees give the Mediterranean garden dramatic color accents, while wrought iron walk gates with filigreed patterns can further add allure to your garden.

Trickling Water Features

Water features generally have tiers or trickling fountains with narrow streams to prevent excessive loss from evaporation. After all, water is scarce in the Mediterranean region, and so it’s pragmatic to choose them over cascading or spraying fountains.

Terracotta Pots and Jars

They serve as focal points or sometimes even borders. Because of the scorching heat of the sun, use clay pots instead of plastic and other “artificial” materials to make sure that your plants’ water reserve will not evaporate completely. Add a glazed saucer beneath each pot to further reduce water usage.

Graveled and Pebbled Walkways

Because water is scarce, a classic Mediterranean garden has no or very little lawn. Walkways are typically covered by gravels or are made of concretes or a combination of both to reduce water usage. Another bonus of this key feature: It is long-lasting, economical, and above all, low-maintenance.

It can also use pebbles and cobbles for mosaic pavements. They can be laid to create intricate and delightful designs, particularly if you use various sizes and colors of stones.

Raised Beds

Because Mediterranean plants require good drainage, raised, beds are commonly used in this garden design. They can also serve as a platform to showcase your plants or even a tree.


Topiaries not just add height and drama to your Mediterranean garden, but they also give you privacy when placed around a shaded seating area. To complement them further, you can use low-growing hedges, which also provide structure and allure to the surrounding.

Design Recommendations

The Mediterranean garden is a versatile and pragmatic design that promotes indoor-outdoor living with its shaded seating areas and loggias, which are open-sided extensions to a house.

Meanwhile, one of the most sacrosanct rules is to create a sense of refuge, which can be achieved through the use of high walls. Some landscape designers stick to this rule of thumb: Enclose your garden with a barrier whose vertical height is at least one-third of the length of the horizontal space that you’re going to inhabit.

To stay true to the design’s casual elegance, combine formal accents such as statues, Roman columns, and tiered water fountains with “raw” materials such as pebbles, cobbles, and boulders. Edible plants, low-growing hedges, slender trees, crawling vines, ornamental grasses, perfumed flowers also give interesting color, texture, and structure to your garden.

The color palette of materials is mostly warm and subdued to blend well with the arid environment of the Mediterranean region (or the Southwestern regions in the US). Meanwhile, the use of materials with overly bright colors is minimized or even avoided altogether to maintain an intimate, natural, and elegant ambiance.

And since a true Mediterranean garden bears a pragmatic design, make every effort to include herbs with culinary and medicinal purposes and fruit-bearing trees. And with fragrant edibles, you can make the alfresco dining more intimate and relaxing.


Regions with long, dry summers are great for Mediterranean garden design with its water-wise features, smooth indoor-outdoor transition, and shade-giving structures. But due to its versatility, it remains feasible even in cooler climates provided that you choose your plants carefully; ideally, they are locally sourced to ensure great adaptability.

If you live in more northern climates, choose English lavender, shrubby hare’s ear, Southernwood, crimson-spot rockrose, purple-flowered rock rose, lantern tree, tree mallow, Portugal laurel, myrtle spurge, common myrtle, curry plant, trailing ice plant, and purple sage.

You might be surprised to see topiary as a common feature in a classic Mediterranean garden, which is dubbed as a low-maintenance garden. While this “living art” requires trimming and pruning of evergreen shrubs to create interesting shapes, you can choose simple shapes such as cones, balls, and lollipops, or if even skip them altogether if you find the task quite daunting.

When choosing plants, make sure they are adaptable to your climate for a real low-maintenance garden. Fortunately, many native plants in cooler climates resemble the iconic Mediterranean shrubs, herbs, grasses, and trees.

Contrary to popular belief, you can eliminate some key features of a Mediterranean garden, particularly if you have limited space. For instance, a smaller archway can replace pergolas, which suit large gardens as they can serve as a “towering” focal point–or even a slightly tall fence–to recreate the look if space is an issue.

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