Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Gardens Part 1- Basics Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

When I lived in Texas, everyone I knew had very big back yards (everything is bigger and better in Texas, right?). My back yard was mostly grass with some bushes and small trees here and there. From what I remember when I would travel outside of Texas, the back yard with mostly grass seemed to be an American household staple.

The Yard in September 2008 001

In the Netherlands, I have observed that gardens consist of mostly plants and hardly any grass. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of grass in your average Dutch back yard (and in public parks). There is just a lot less than in the U.S. and I am sure this has partly to do with the fact that the Netherlands is a highly dense country.

So what do Dutch gardens have?

First and foremost, a Dutch garden or tuin has some sort of seating area. This area is usually one that gets the most sun. When the weather is nice, my neighbors are usually having dinner outside in their terras.

Mona taking care of our tomatoes (personal photograph)

Mona taking care of our tomatoes (personal photograph)

Many gardens also have a moestuin which is a groente (veggie) and kruiden (herb) garden. This spring, the grocery store Albert Heijn gave away veggie and herb seeds, and the garden stores also had plenty of seeds and small plants for the moestuin. In my experience, the most successful plants are tomaat, peterselie (parsley), munt, and lavandel. 

Although it seems like there is never enough sun in the Netherlands, a Dutch garden also has some sort of overkapping or canopy. These also work when it rains and you still want to sit outside.

Finally, the Dutch gardens must have a lot of flowers! Every spring, garden stores are filled with people buying flowers for their gardens. Some of the most popular ones are hortensiarozen, tulpen and vlinderstruik (see photo).

Peacock Butterfly on Buddleija

There is a very popular tv show called “Robs Grote Tuinverbouwing” where Rob and his crew remodel a garden. You can check out the following video.

What does your garden look like?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Peter Simon:

    Sorry, Karoly, but after repeated references to the overcapping=coverings or canopy in this and following posts, I have to raise a word or two. We may not be living in the same country, or cities must be so different, but where I live (about the tenth larges city) or wherever I’ve travelled (very often by bike or on foot after the train), I’ve practically NEVER seen such a thing. I know this city thoroughly as I’ve done delivery for various postal cervices, I’ve walked the streets of dozens of Dutch settlements, see plenty backyards, but this thing I haven’t seen. Sorry to disappoint. Where have you seen some? Otherwise a nice series of posts.

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Peter Simon Hi Peter! I am surprised that you have never seen these. If I take a peek at my neighbors through my attic window, I can see that every house has one of these. Maybe these are much more common in Limburg…I can’t say that I’ve been in many gardens in the Ranstad area. So now I wonder, why here and not there? My conclusion (which is full of assumptions) is that perhaps since land is more expensive in cities (there is even a significant difference in price between a house in my village and a house in Maastricht), gardens are obviously smaller. If your garden is already small, why would you cover the sun from it? Do you see what I mean?

      Like I said, this is all just an assumption of mine based on nothing but the difference in price per square meter in villages vs. cities.