One of the first and most important steps when you begin to plan out your new landscape is to decide on a style. The style of landscape is often determined by factors such as the style of your house, personal tastes, environmental considerations, and functional needs.
Maybe you like the sense of nature that a natural California garden elicits, or you might prefer the clean, open feel of a modern landscape. By choosing a style you will help to ensure the landscape looks cohesive and fits your personal preferences.
Natural California or Mediterranean style gardens are quite popular here on the Central Coast. This style of landscape invokes a sense of being in the natural world and seems to fit right in with the forests and natural areas surrounding our cities. California native plants are often heavily used in this type of landscape, and are arranged in an informal manner.
These landscapes tend to be very low-maintenance and have low water requirements. Bark mulch is typically used as a ground cover and the garden can include elements such as boulders and dry creek beds.
Flagstone is a commonly used hardscape material for natural landscapes because of the muted color patterns and natural shapes they offer. There are a number of other hardscape materials that work well with this style such as wood and decomposed granite.
Modern, or Contemporary landscapes have a clean, organized aesthetic. The straight lines and geometric patterns used with this style lend a polished and refined feel to the space. Hardscapes are heavily used in this style. Concrete and dark stained wood are common materials for patios, decks, and planters.
The variety of plantings in a modern landscape are often minimized and include groupings of the same or similar plants, such as a row of Chondropetalum or Deer Grass. In these landscapes the hardscape elements take center stage. Plants are typically shades of green and are used to contrast and soften the hardscape areas.
A cottage garden style landscape uses an abundance of flowering plants that are often densely planted, giving the landscape a highly textured and colored look. This style invokes a sense of charm and country living. Self-seeding annuals, herbaceous perennials, and plants with brightly colored flowers are often used to create these types of gardens.
Cottage gardens have an informal character, and often include features such as picket fences, arbors, and window box planters. Due to the type and density of the plantings, these gardens can require more maintenance. Deadheading, pruning, thinning, and weeding are needed to keep the landscape from becoming overgrown.
Modern landscapes have a minimalist, yet functional feel and fit right in with many newer styles of homes. This is a very popular and pleasing style for many California homeowners.
Often called a “desert” landscape, this style is often disregarded as being too dry and sparse, and can be what people sometimes negatively associate with a “drought-tolerant landscape”. While this style can certainly give the impression of being in an arid environment, it can be done quite well and can look great with southwest style architecture.
Succulents are used extensively in these landscapes, but flowering plants, cacti, and grasses can also be included. Pebbles or gravel rock are often used as ground cover, and hardscapes are usually made from light colored flagstone or concrete.
These gardens can actually be quite diverse and comfortable, and are becoming more popular in many areas of California and the Southwest.
A Japanese garden is a peaceful, shady retreat into nature. It has an informal style that is both highly natural, yet clean and organized. This style will include well maintained plantings, heavy living groundcover, shade providing trees, and will commonly have a water feature (or pseudo water feature) such as a Koi pond or a dry creek bed.
Boulders and rocks are used throughout a Japanese garden, and hardscapes such as walkways feature curved lines and simple materials so as to accentuate the natural style and keep the attention on the plantings.
To pull it off properly, one must be committed to meticulous design and be prepared for some ongoing maintenance. This makes it a fantastic option for a small backyard that would provide a quiet retreat from urban environments.
Landscapes can be designed to represent a number of different styles and themes. This is not an all-inclusive list, and styles can even be merged. One thing to note is that each of these styles can be made to use very little water. Even a Japanese garden, typically thought of as lush and full of water, can use climate adapted plants such as Nandina, Heuchera, and native grasses to give the same effect.
It’s worth looking at a variety of landscapes, whether in your neighborhood or in photos online, and considering what you like and dislike about each style. The style you choose will set the stage for almost all of the decisions that are made for your landscape design, so proper research and consideration will be invaluable as you move forward.
If you need assistance with your landscape design or installation, you can contact us for a free project evaluation. We are also here to answer any questions or help you however we can as you continue to plan for your new landscape.