No matter how big or small your backyard is right now, it probably has the potential to be one of your family’s favorite retreats. But every home and homeowner across Pennsylvania have their own unique aesthetic to incorporate in a landscape design. The best landscape designs are the ones that have been carefully thought out with attention paid to the details. Before you begin planning a landscape it is important to decide what style would best fit your home and lifestyle. These are our top five backyard aesthetics that people often gravitate to.

English Garden Style

The English Garden Style utilizes many shrubs and perennials in a design that complements the architectural style of a traditional home. Think rolling lawns shaded by trees and fringed with areas of brightly colored flowers of different types packed together. Often the lawn will incorporate a pond of some sort and sometimes a little waterfall and/or stream with a bridge over it. And of course, when it comes to flowers, nothing’s more English than a fragrant rose bush. When it comes to gardening, nothing’s more English than a fragrant rose bush. A dense and rich garden with plenty of character is what you’re after. But English gardens aren’t just floral masterpieces. They’re incredibly architectural, too. Flowers and other plants are often planted in rows and shapes to create visual interest and symmetry.

The Zen Landscape

Sometimes referred to as meditation gardens, dry landscapes made up of a composition of rocks, moss and small trees are common elements of Japanese gardens. The pale sand or fine gravel spread to cover the ground represents water and is often raked into ripples. Even on a small scale in a home garden, these stylized landscapes can be very peaceful to gaze upon. Water, rocks, and evergreens with a variety of plants can be used to create distinctive perspectives. Zen gardens often incorporate fish ponds, bridges, and curving pathways. Flowers can add interest, but do not dominate like they do in other styles of gardens. The overall effect of a Zen landscape is one of green or pastel peace and relaxation.

Woodland Landscape

If you have a wooded area in your yard, you’re in luck: you already have the foundation for a beautiful woodland garden. These gardens are filled with plants that will thrive in the dappled shade of your trees. Often, you’ll find a path to meander or a rustic bench for sitting and providing a shady woodland retreat from the heat of summer. Reflecting the natural way that fauna grows in a wooded area, the Woodland garden has a less manicured appearance than many of the other garden styles. This would be a good choice if you do not wish to spend a lot of time on maintenance. Instead of planting in formal rows, flowers plants and grasses are laid out in groups of three or five plants, or in large swaths of one type to form a natural-looking meadow.


One of the richest sources of garden design for hundreds of years has been the Mediterranean garden. Beautiful and pragmatic, the style developed out of the great diversity of Mediterranean history, culture, and religion. While the style developed in the Mediterranean basin, it has adapted to many other areas, including Pennsylvania. You’ll find planter boxes atop walls of brick or stone, each filled with one or two types of flowering plants, especially those that spill over the side. Plants line stone pathways and small walkways on both sides. And often mimic cliffs by the seaside. Mediterranean gardens abound with standout plants—brightly colored bougainvillea’s, aromatic herbs, stately Italian cypresses, and sometimes olive trees—all native to the Mediterranean region.

Tropical or Semi-Tropical

Lush foliage and exotic flowers are the two most important ingredients landscape designers use to create tropical ambiance in the garden. Tropical landscapes are filled with ferns and shrubs with large, brightly colored flowers. Think water (in the form of pools or waterfall features) and tall palm trees everywhere. Hibiscus is one of the most iconic tropical flowers. It also happens to be edible. Both the flowers and leaves are used to make a refreshing iced tea. The flowers, which come in an array of vibrant colors, are also a nice edible garnish for a meal enjoyed out in your tropical oasis.

These top landscape looks can be scaled to fit any size outdoor space, big or small. Because an area’s overall environment so strongly affects the health of a landscape, our designers will address the overall look first, keeping in mind that landscape styles can be mixed and matched to meet the particular aesthetic you are looking for. A well thought out landscape has interest in all the seasons, not just spring or summer. PA Landscape Group has a Landscape Architect and designers on staff, able to design a simple garden, an elaborate formal garden, a garden that will provide habitat for wildlife or a tropical oasis.