Thoughtful landscape design is the key to creating an outdoor oasis, whether you have a tiny courtyard in an urban area or a sprawling estate in the country. To help you transform your own patios, yards, gardens, and more, we rounded up inspiring landscaping ideas and examples that truly make the most of their natural surroundings. So without further ado, allow these outdoor beauties to pave the way to better landscape design for every size, style, and region. And if you’re looking for a simple guide to help you come up with a landscape design from scratch, keep reading to the end for our breakdown of everything to consider.
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1 Lavender Field
Nothing channels the friend countryside like a lavender field leading to a stone flower arranging studio. Wendy Owen wanted her Sonoma, California property to feel like a laidback rustic French village. She channeled that atmosphere with lovely stone pavilions, stand-alone sheds for gardening, and outdoor cooking areas.
2 Window Boxes
When you don’t have a front yard or even a sizeable porch, call on your windows for a beautiful landscaping opportunity as exemplified here by Sarah Bartholomew. A copper lantern lights the way home, picking up on copper flashed windows and gutters, and window boxes are enlivened with pretty white florals and greenery.
3 Native Plantings
Landscape architecture design studio Terremoto populated the garden of this Bel Air home with native species wherever possible and created “a gradient of wildness” on the steep hillside. The lush canopy of low-water, low-maintenance plants includes native grasses, sages and lilacs, and redbud trees.
4 Faux Plant Wall
Designer Alison Victoria’s brought her small urban backyard to life with a clever landscaping design. The trick to maintaining a low-maintenance garden wall that adds greenery? It’s faux! She removed the glass from an antique pier mirror that was formerly in the entryway of an old home and then nailed faux fir panels directly into the fence.
5 Strategic Hammock Placement
At a Seattle home by Studio DIAA that literally floats on water, the occupants hung a hammock for a truly restful backyard experience. They also like to place an essential oil diffuser on the cedar deck to maximize the spa vibes even further.
6 Driveable Garden
No front yard, no problem. Beautify your driveway instead. Bay Area designer Dan Carlson combined succulents and herbs for this low-to-the-ground garden -meets-driveway flanked by permeable pavers.
7 Al Fresco Bar
Caroline Rafferty decked out a small bar prep zone (conveniently located right by the cabana) in saturated colors and stripes, then optimized the space with a ceiling fan and hidden remote-controlled hurricane shutters for the off-season. A home bar made of wicker makes it even more inviting.
8 Olive and Cypress Trees
Landscape designer Marcello Villano incorporated olive and cypress trees in this Palm Springs courtyard as a nod to the homeowner’s Italian heritage.
9 Creative Hardscape
Terremoto Landscape designer and founder David Godshall opted for a creative hardscape as opposed to grass in this backyard. Not only do playful tiles allow for a welcome pop of color, but they’re also drought-friendly and easier to maintain. The lush flora surrounding the area allows for plenty of green despite the lack of grass.
10 Spilling Bougainvillea
A lawn isn’t the only landscape design that’ll brighten up your front yard. Madeline Stuart gives this SoCal home by architects Wallace Neff and John Byers a sense of place with agave plants flanking the entrance and blooming bougainvillea spilling over the wall.
11 Decked Out Pagoda
If a built-in landscape feature isn’t in the cards, consider a standalone structure. Landscape designer Jay Griffith’s standalone pagoda is a grown-up version of a treehouse hideaway. The floor cushions enhance the sense of intimacy while the curtains provide extra privacy.
12 Barrel Cacti
13 Framed Bocce Court
“We used a mix of traditional and drought-resistant plants,” says Denler Hobart, who framed this bocce court outside of a California home with brick, bluestone, boxwood, and hydrangeas.
14 Integrated Landscape Design
Designed by John Houshmand, a furniture maker from the Catskill mountains, this hacienda retreat in Mexico features Barragan-esque concrete exteriors that speak to the local design culture while also emphasizing the organic and natural desert environment. Every outdoor area was optimized for spending quality time in the fresh air: Potted cypresses line the rooftop courtyard lounge, a daybed reading nook is nestled between two exterior walls, passageways between rooms are covered overhead but wall-less, and a large pool connects to the jacuzzi, echoing the roofline of the home.
15 Flower Walls
If you have an outdoor shower, create a natural illusion of privacy with a wall of florals (or plants that don’t mind moisture). Flowering shrubs like the hydrangeas in this backyard by landscape designer Ed Hollander can act like a living shower wall (and tend to be cheaper), plus they enhance the air of romance in already romantic setting. Be sure to prune branches so warm sunlight can pour in.
16 Skate Ramp and Treehouse
A treehouse and a skateboarding ramp? Talk about landscaping dreams come true for a family home with active kids. Designed by Cuff Home in Los Angeles, this backyard is both a beautiful garden and a fun park.
17 Cantilevered Archiecture
Cantilevered over the forest floor, this living room in a home designed by Ore Studios marries modern design with nature beautifuly. The house functions as a “transparent jewel box” in the middle of the Puget Sound landscape.
18 Outdoor Game Room
An outdoor grade pool table on the patio means the party can come outside! Just opposite the custom pool table by Linda Hayslett is a cooking area and banquette for dining and drinks al fresco.
19 Glamping Retreat
Deep in the forest of upstate New York, designer Beverly Kerzner went above and beyond to commune with nature by clearing vines, non-native plants, and debris a half-acre away from the forested part of her property (a 30-minute walk from the main house!). Next, she built a platform and filled it with all the glamping goods: a well-decorated yurt, an outdoor wood-burning stove, and lounge furniture on the exposed deck. A few steps away, there’s even an outdoor bathroom.
20 Mini Water Features
Even a small patio can fit a water feature, which can bring that calming sound and energy reminiscent of a zen garden. Here, Sarah Solis manages to pack it all in style. Who knows, maybe if someone sat on this cute terrace and focused on the calming trickling water, they could manifest a full-sized soaking tub.
21 Canopy of Fig Ivy
This green breezeway—which doubles as a flower-arranging room and was designed by Rebecca Vizard—makes a strong first impression with its consuming canopy of fig ivy. Plus, the garden flowers pop against the gravel and tile path leading to the front door.
22 Separating Hedges
This backyard in a home by Amir Khandwala has it all: A lush lawn, a swimming pool and adjacent lounge area, and an outdoor dining room under a pergola. Low hedges are a great visual signifier, allowing you to keep each activity zone separate.
23 Overgrown Terrace
Allow greenery to grow between stone tiles on a terrace for a lush, overgrown topical vacation vibe. Akin Atelier hung string lights overhead and added large potted plants for even more magic in this indoor/outdoor haven.
24 Mid-Garden Dining Area
Landscape designer Lisa Bynon turned her vegetable garden in Southampton, New York, into a dreamy outdoor dining area complete with a 10-foot-long table and a cedar deer fence.
25 Dramatic Trees
This small backyard in designer Fitz Pullin’s Jacksonville, Florida, home was destined for majestic greatness despite its modest size, thanks to the dramatic tree and climbing vines.
26 Rooftop Dining
If you live in a bustling neighborhood with minimal outdoor space but have access to a rooftop, take a cue from this Venice Beach loft. A wooden cover will create a gorgeous dappled light effect and woven pendants give the space vacation vibes.
27 Rose Garden
Limiting yourself to one type of flower saves on yard work in the long run. For a client who really loves roses, Edmund Hollander planted some 250 English grandifloras. It doesn’t get more romantic than this.
28 Multiple Levels
Just looking at this Richard Beard home makes us feel like we meditated for a full day. A raised patio and lower level garden make this a multi-purpose oasis, not to mention, the various levels also create great visual interest.
29 Garden Shed
A living archway frames the pathway to Rebecca Vizard‘s vegetable garden. A post office in Seaside, Florida, inspired the design of the petite shed.
30 Modern Fountain
There’s nothing like a modern fountain to set the scene in a courtyard. It gives this sitting area by Jean Liu a calming atmosphere and also helps fill the other side of the pathway.
31 Lavender Border
A garden with a plan provides both beauty and elegance, says landscape architect Edmund Hollander. Here, a straight run of bluestone pavers reinforces property lines, and lavender borders focus the eye.
32 Heated Furniture
Chloe Warner kept a California home‘s landscaping simple: “We did nothing more than set up areas for dining and entertaining.” A Galanter & Jones heated love seat by the door entices party guests “to spill out onto the patio on cool evenings.”
33 Hydrangea Wall
Privacy creates a sense of place, says Hollander. Here, rows of hydrangeas and white-flowered salvias buffer noise and highlight an enchanting fountain.
34 Fire Pit
Between the fire pit and floating dock, it tough to choose where to relax at Thom Filicia’s sophisticated lake house.
35 Outdoor Shower
To make a striking outdoor shower look even more grand, lay a tile pathway that leads the way. Then hang up wall hooks on the exterior wall so you can display your gorgeous towels, like these Missoni stunners. They’re a great way to bring in a variety of colors without having to plant an entire garden.
36 Flower-Covered Pergola
37 Climbing Vines
While the pool and surrounding canopy of trees draw us into this backyard by Nickey Kehoe, it’s the climbing vines that really make it pop.
38 Garden Fountain
A weeping willow hovers over the water feature outside of Jill Sharp Weeks’s Charleston rental. She replanted the beds and brought in furniture to create the private paradise.
39 City Meets Country
This Texas home designed by Jean Liu strikes the balance between natural beauty and practicality, perfect for its urban environment. The key: Pavers that complement the home’s exterior material with a few trees and planting beds.
40 Conversation Pit
Now this is how you style an outdoor fire pit. All eyes will be on the roaring fire, at the center of the lawn’s circular tile island. The surrounding butterfly chairs introduce a laidback, California vibe, which is further accentuated by the tall palm trees and dreamy pampas grass.
41 Modern Courtyard
Thin trees shade a 1960s home‘s walled retreat. Elizabeth Kennedy and Ray Booth brought the interior’s sleek style outdoors by adding all-weather chairs and a row of lanterns.
42 Pops of Color
Though the extravagant fountain in this courtyard is the true statement piece, we’re loving the pops of color in the minty green planters and lilac shutters. It makes for a warm welcome and cheerful entrance.
43 Modern Lines
A sleek swimming pool, manicured lawn, and native palm trees make this Hawaiian home a modern oasis. Catherine Kwong stuck with a minimal landscaping design to flow with the interiors and accentuate the incredible views.
44 Shaded Patio
Hollander built an outdoor “dining room” by planting six plane trees. They create shade during the day, and at night, they’re strung with lights.
45 Playing With Shapes
A kidney bean-shaped pool reflects the organic shapes throughout this outdoor space, from the rounded structure to the loosely hung hammock. A canopy of trees cocoons the backyard to feel like thoroughly serene retreat.
46 Ivy-Covered Walls
A brand-new South Carolina house looks older than its years thanks to a mature palmetto tree. Fig ivy softens the surrounding brick wall, cozying up Michelle Prentice’s hangout spot.
47 Lush Lawn
This island escape by Ishka Designs blends right in with its lush backdrop. Though the lawn is well-maintained, it doesn’t feel too pristine. Why make things stuffy and overly manicured when you can embrace the natural beauty of your surroundings?
48 Offset Pavers
Think of your garden as an organized procession, advises Hollander. Stone steps and offset pavers provide structure and allow the garden to reveal itself in an interesting way.
49 Cozy Porch
This Nashville house designed by Markham Roberts comes with a stunning patio ceiling painted in Benjamin Moore Aura in Black Knight and is surrounded by thick, tall bushes to create backyard privacy.
50 Orange Grove
A vacation home blends right into its Ojai Valley location with a backyard orange grove. The sweet-smelling orchard even inspired the interior’s color palette.
51 Cypress Trees
52 Tree Lanterns
Show your trees some love and dress up the backyard by hanging lanterns in the branches. This will set the mood for a truly magical outdoor living space.
53 Driveway Planters
“It’s not just the inside of your house that deserves stylish touches,” says Bunny Williams. “Celebrate your arrival by rolling out the red carpet for yourself—or at least a pair of oversize planters.”
54 Potted Citrus
Don’t have room for an entire orchard? Add ambiance to an outdoor dining area with a group of topiaries. Monica Bhargava frequently uses her greenery-lined terrace for al fresco dinners.
55 Sculpted Hedges
At this Corona del Mar house, landscape designer Margaret Carole McElwee created a garden lush with boxwood hedges, lavender, ficus, and cypress.
56 Square Walkway
Orderly stepping stones and bright flower beds lead across a Florida home’s lawn to the dining pavilion. If you love this pop of pink, try bougainvillea.
57 Victorian Gazebo
Voluptuous 50-year-old wisteria vines drape a Victorian wire gazebo outside of a New York house designed by Robin Bell, with the assistance of landscape designer Deborah Nevins and architect Stephen Potters.
58 East Coast Landscape
59 Urban Oasis
A wall of greenery makes a lush backdrop for this small patio. Here’s proof that introducing greenery to your vertical space will transform a tiny urban patio in an outdoor oasis (the string lights help, too).
60 English Garden
For a garden outside of her Hamptons cottage, designer Podge Bune chose traditional roses and hedges.
61 Garden Wall
A stucco garden wall fringed with climbing roses opens onto a Virginia home‘s pool.
62 Plant Beds
In a small or narrow city yard, introduce greenery with a pathway surrounded by planting beds. Then use your vertical space by bringing in slim and tall trees. A neat path like this one keeps our eyes focused on the architectural details of the home ahead.
63 French Country Style
In the cloister garden of William Christie’s 16th-century French countryside estate, the classic rose Katharina Zeimet stands out among the formal hedges.
64 Native Landscaping
Designer Jay Griffith’s signature landscaping style—indigenous plants, few flowers and sculptural planting design—is in full effect in the backyard of a Pacific Palisades, California, home. The one-acre property has only nine kinds of plants.
65 Strategic Ficus Hedge
66 Gravel Garden
For a sleek, minimalist patio, whitewash your wood paneled deck and keep things tonal with a gravel garden instead of grass. And to extend your time outside, bring out a heat lamp.
67 Swimming Pond
Floral designer Wendy Goidell wanted a natural swimming pool for her solar geothermal house in Wassaic, New York. Chris Rawlings of Water House carved it out of a craggy mountain ledge and worked with Goidell and landscape designer Anna Hadjuk to surround it with native plants.
68 Raised Garden Beds
Designers Deirdre and Caleb Barber entertain at their cozy Vermont cottage between raised vegetable and flower beds Barber made out of red cedar.
69 Boxwood Parterres
Talk about an incredible view. From their bedroom balcony, the homeowners of a Spanish Colonial Revival look out onto their 1934 swimming pool and stunning boxwood parterres attributed to the late Richmond garden designer Charles Gillette.
70 Crepe Myrtle
71 Charming Topiaries
Dog-shaped hedges accent the lawn, giving this yard a wonderfully playful feel. With these in the front yard, your house will no doubt be the friendliest home in the neighborhood.
72 Zen Garden
73 Classical Garden Inspiration
A Greek-temple garden folly at Highgrove House, the country residence of Prince Charles, inspired the wood pergola in designer Brian McCarthy’s Kerhonkson, New York, house. The royal version was designed by the much-revered Isabel and Julian Bannerman, known for dreamy English gardens filled with classical allusions. McCarthy planned all the trees and shrubs on the property, which was once entirely alfalfa fields.
74 Landscaped Levels
This unique outdoor space offers two “rooms,” each with a different feel.
75 Pear Tree Trellis
76 Sand and Granite Terrace
Designer Tobi Tobin completely revamped the backyard of her modern Hollywood Hills cottage. She created a terrace from sand mixed with granite and used brick from an old patio for the new fireplace.
77 Blooming Flower Border
Rows of hydrangeas and hedges offer a beautiful alternative to typical garden fences. The vibrant colors are especially stunning.
78 Hidden Garden
Behind a historic Savannah home is the ideal place for catching up with friends. Climbing vines create a “hidden garden” feel.
79 Sculptural Gazebo
80 How to Come Up With a Landscape Design
Here’s everything to consider as you start plotting a plan…
- Think about how you want to use the space. For example, if you want to use it to entertain guests, that use-case will call for a certain layout, set of materials, and decorative bells and whistles than a use-case of lounging, exercising, or growing flowers and herbs, for example.
- Look into zoning regulations and guidelines in your region so that you can incorporate any necessities into your plan. This is especially important when it comes to height regulations and plumbing-related concepts, like outdoor showers or swimming pools.
- Research plants, flowers, and materials that are native to your location. Not only will this lend itself to beautiful design, but it will also ensure that your yard is set up for success in your given climate. This can also help you come up with a color scheme, theme, or general look.
- Make a list of all the things you want to incorporate in your dream yard and then think about a layout from there so you can identify what can and cannot make the cut.
- If you don’t plan on consulting a landscape architect or gardener (or even if you do), read up on the basic principles of landscape design so you feel informed before you begin the process.
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