Perfectly cut, manicured lawns and stoic yard elements have a solid place in the landscaping world. But, there’s something to be said about wild, rustic environments that tap into the visceral spirit of humanity and nature.
For those uninterested in sleek hardscapes and ornately designed motifs, welcome to the wildside. Here, you won’t need cement and steel. All you need is your imagination, a green thumb, and a few of the following tips to get that untamed, naturalistic look in your home’s landscape.
You could, of course, hire a custom home builder to renovate your yard into a rugged patch of serenity, or you can get your hands dirty and do it yourself. For those that choose the latter, let’s get planting!
image © Parham Taghioff. Softstone mid-rise office building in Tehran designed by SETUP Architecture Studio
Eschew plastic and steel landscaping elements in favor of more rustic, natural artifacts. Stick to reclaimed or recycled wood for walls, walkways, and fences. Local gravel and stone elements are perfect for filling in little areas devoid of grass or shrubbery.
Large rocks or boulders can be used to frame sections of your property–try placing a few around the patio area or alongside a walking path.
Stay away from anything that feels rigid. Built-in seating or bolted-down furniture will only stifle your creativity when the seasons change. Use flexible options like folding chairs or plastic furniture that you can easily relocate around the yard.
If your yard is next to a reservation or forest, consider removing obstacles like fences in order to let your yard open up to a sprawling environment, creating the sense of a neverending, enchanting area.
When plotting out your garden area, one of the best things to do is first to install “anchor” shrubs and evergreen plants around your area. These will be bigger than the fillers you’ll use dotting around your yard, so be sure to give them enough space to grow into. Once you have these planted, then you can see how much space you have left to work with.
Stick with untamed plants, ornamental grasses, and perennials for a wild look. Don’t be afraid to allow some overgrowth along the edge of pathways to add texture. Low-water plants are great for accenting hardscapes but should be used sparingly.
Instead of hard lines and sharp walkways, try scattering gravel in a curved pattern leading up to flower bed areas. This layout will also open up your yard and make it feel more extensive and grandiose.
image © Marzenna Gaines
Ornamental and native grasses are a perfect fit in a naturalistic garden and yard. Try planting some in a flower bed to add movement and color to the area. Instead of planting in formal rows, opt for dense areas of one particular flower to create the look and feel of a meadow.
Vines like grapevines, pipevines, and fiveleaf akebia are lovely additions to fences and wooden structures, giving them an instant wild look. Subtle additions like a simple birdbath or wooden feeder are better suited than ornate fountains and furniture.
Lastly, when finishing the look, hide a few statues or interesting art pieces around the yard. The base of a boulder or thick tree trunk are nice areas for staging a small stone statue or two to add character and flair. Visitors will appreciate your attention to detail. Just be sure to rope them back in case they get lost in your wild, wonderful new landscape.
About the Author
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.