Defining Landscaping Styles for Your Backyard


If you’ve never landscaped your backyard but would like to—or even if you have but want to update its landscaping—it’s a good idea to approach your landscaping with a particular style and design scheme in mind. This will give your backyard a cohesive feel, and it can help you tailor your backyard landscaping to your home’s particular style. Here are several great ideas for landscaping design styles to try in your backyard, along with features that might complement each particular style.

Formal style. For something more structured, you might try formal style. Formal style landscaping features geometric shapes, straight lines, and often symmetrical features. You’ll also find intricately maintained gardens in this type of landscaping, with plants and shrubs pruned consistently to maintain a formal appearance. Imagine gardens rich in flowers along the perimeter of a rectangular yard, lined by squared off hedges and a path featuring right angles. As this article details, opting for brick or stone for your path will give it a more formal look. There may be benches placed symmetrically on either side of the yard, and perhaps a fountain in the middle.

English garden style. English garden style is reminiscent of the formal style, but it is much more relaxed, as its purpose is to highlight the wild beauty of nature. Imagine a formal style cobblestone or pebble pathway in your backyard that leads to a secluded circular table for two, and an arch over the pathway on which climbing rose blossoms all over. You might also find climbing rose or ivy growing freely along the fence, carefully pruned to keep it from running wild while still looking natural. To give this type of a garden a more relaxed feel, you might plant a vegetable and herb garden, reminiscent of those cottage gardens that were traditionally planted to sustain households.

Southwest style. Southwest landscape style (also known as desert style) is most often used in arid regions like Arizona and New Mexico, but you can find it in other regions as well. This style features Spanish and Native American details and tends to be simple, functional, and easy to maintain. You’ll find accents like red clay pavers, terra cotta tiles, wood, desert hues, gravel instead of mulch, and dry climate plants like cacti and succulents.

Tuscan style. For something similar, yet more Old World tradition, you might try Tuscan style, inspired by the rustic, sun-baked homes of the Italian Tuscany region. This style features warm earthy hues, terra cotta tiles, stone with mosaic inlay, wrought-iron accessories (such as your railings or light fixtures), and rough plaster. Popular plants for Tuscan style gardens include olive trees, bay trees, lavender, sage, and ornamental grasses.

Tropical style. Tropical landscaping style typically features plants with ultra large leaves and rich blooms, making plant life a very prominent feature in this design style. Imagine bright, vibrant colors, dense planting, and an overall jungle-like appearance. There are hundreds upon hundreds of plant types to choose from when creating a tropical style garden, and usually you can find plants that will work well for your particular climate. Some of the most popular plants for tropical style landscapes are palms, cycads, big-leafed hostas, hibiscus, and bird of paradise. Bamboo furniture is also very commonly used in this landscape style because it is most reminiscent of the tropics.

Oriental garden style. Oriental garden style is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world as people gain interest in Eastern traditions and philosophies. This style draws heavily on symbolism and on recreating nature in miniature form. You’ll find a bridge, statues, heavy use of stones, bamboo, meandering pebble pathways, lanterns, and blossoming trees. Water features, like those mentioned in this article, are also common, as water is deeply symbolic of wealth, money, and career success in feng shui tradition. You’ll notice that symmetry is not so important in this landscaping style since symmetry is not naturally found in nature.

Contemporary style. Contemporary or modern landscaping style features bold patterns, clean lines, and mixed materials, and it tends to be simple, minimal, and calming. Concrete and gravel are used heavily in contemporary design because they make for a low-maintenance landscape. You’ll also frequently find drought resistant grasses and shrubs, shades of green or gray, and geometric lawn accents. Contemporary style is often blended with other styles to give a more modern feel to traditional look.

By: Maurine Anderson
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