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Backyard Designers: Landscaping Ideas | State College, PA

Revamping your backyard involves strategic design choices to maximize its potential. 

Professional designers can play a pivotal role in transforming your outdoor space. 

In this guide, we'll explore various backyard design ideas, each possessing unique appeal and suitability. 

From the classic sophistication of an English garden to the exotic allure of tropical landscapes, these concepts aim to inspire the creation of a dream-worthy backyard.

Key Takeaways

  • Various landscape themes, from English gardens to Zen retreats, offer unique ways to enhance your backyard's beauty and functionality.

  • Understanding the specific needs of your space helps in choosing the right landscape design and professional for your project.

  • Backyard designers play a pivotal role in transforming outdoor spaces into personalized havens of relaxation and beauty.

Landscape Design Themes for Your Outdoor Space

Creating a captivating outdoor space that resonates with your personal style and complements your home is both an art and a science. The right landscape design theme can transform your backyard into a haven of relaxation, entertainment, and beauty.

Here, we explore ten popular landscape design themes, from the classic allure of English gardens to the serene beauty of Japanese Zen spaces. Each theme presents a distinct way to enhance your outdoor living experience.

Take a look at each one and see if one of them is your ideal backyard retreat.

Formal English

The award-winning gardens of Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire

Ideal for those who love classic elegance, an English garden combines structured layouts with lush, flowering plants. Perfect for properties with spacious lawns, it creates a picturesque scene with roses, hedges, and perennial borders.

This style of garden is a testament to timeless beauty, characterized by its harmony and balance. It often features walkways lined with colorful flowers, cozy sitting areas perhaps under a rose-covered arbor, and traditional elements like sundials or birdbaths.

The magic of the English garden lies in its ability to blend structured design with the spontaneous growth of plants, creating a living masterpiece that evolves through the seasons. While it requires regular maintenance to keep its manicured look, the result is a breathtaking outdoor space that becomes a reflection of nature’s elegance.

Tropical paradise

Shot of a tropical-themed house with a tropical garden

For homes in warmer climates or for those seeking an exotic escape, a tropical landscape is ideal. Think vibrant flowers, palm trees, and dense greenery. Adding water features like small ponds or fountains can enhance the tropical feel. This landscape style immerses you in a world where the lushness of nature meets the comfort of outdoor living.

To further enrich this tropical oasis, incorporating features such as natural stone walkways, bamboo fences, and ambient lighting can create an enchanting evening atmosphere. The inclusion of a pool, surrounded by exotic plants and cascading waterfalls, can elevate the sense of luxury and relaxation.

In this setting, every day can feel like a vacation, with your garden serving as a private retreat for leisure and entertainment.

Modern minimalist

Modern house with a private minimalist garden and terrace

A modern minimalist design focuses on clean lines and simplicity. Ideal for contemporary homes, this style often incorporates geometric patterns, sleek materials like stone or concrete, and a neutral color palette with occasional bold accents. This approach to landscaping emphasizes quality and precision, focusing on the 'less is more' philosophy.

In enhancing a modern minimalist outdoor space, consider elements that underscore functional elegance. A well-designed patio or deck can serve as the focal point, featuring minimalist furniture and subtle outdoor lighting to create a serene ambiance.

For those who enjoy outdoor cooking and dining, integrating a streamlined, modern outdoor kitchen or a built-in grill area can add functionality without cluttering the space. Strategically placed greenery, such as ornamental grasses or sculptural plants, can add life and movement to the minimalist design, while still maintaining a sense of order and cleanliness.

This design theme is best for creating a harmonious outdoor living space that reflects a modern lifestyle and offers a tranquil retreat from the busy world.

Japanese zen

A view of the Japanese Zen Garden in Manito Park with its stone bridge and water feature

Perfect for creating a tranquil space, Japanese Zen gardens emphasize balance and harmony. Elements like rocks, gravel, and small, carefully pruned trees and shrubs create a peaceful, meditative outdoor space.

To further enhance the Zen atmosphere, features such as koi ponds or gently babbling waterfalls can be incorporated for a dynamic yet soothing water element. The careful placement of stepping stones, often leading to a secluded seating area or a tea house, invites contemplation and a deeper connection with nature.

In a Zen Garden, every element is thoughtfully selected and placed, with landscape designers focusing on creating a sense of serenity and simplicity. This type of garden is not only a visual retreat but also a space that encourages mindfulness and relaxation, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful sanctuary in their backyard.

Cottage style

A quaint cottage garden in Scotland featuring a bench and wildly growing flowers

Charming and informal, cottage-style landscapes feature a mix of flowering plants, herbs, and edible gardens. Ideal for those who enjoy a natural, whimsical aesthetic, this style is perfect for smaller yards and garden enthusiasts.

Many of these gardens incorporate elements like winding pathways, picket fences, and quaint garden benches to add to their charm. It is meant to be a cozy, inviting space that feels both lived-in and loved.

Landscape designers often use a variety of plants with different textures and heights, creating a layered look that's both beautiful and functional. Adding features like a small patio or outdoor fireplace can create a perfect spot for relaxation and entertaining in this enchanting setting.

Landscape architecture following the cottage garden theme is designed to be more free-form and organic, making it ideal for those who prefer a less structured approach to landscaping and enjoy the beauty of a slightly untamed natural landscape.

Desert oasis

A desert-themed garden with  a variety of succulents and other drought-resistant plants

Ideal for arid climates, desert landscaping uses drought-resistant plants like succulents and cacti. With strategic placement of rocks, sand, and gravel, it is a low-maintenance yet striking outdoor space.

In addition to its practical benefits, desert gardens can be artistically stunning. Incorporating elements like sculptural agaves or a variety of colorful succulents can add visual interest and depth. Landscape designers might also include features such as dry riverbeds made of stone or pebbles, adding a naturalistic yet stylish touch to the garden.

For those who want to blend functionality with aesthetics, integrating a small patio area with tile flooring can create a perfect spot for enjoying the serene desert ambiance. The use of lighting in a desert garden is also crucial, as it can highlight the unique shapes and textures of the plants and rocks, creating a dramatic effect in the evenings.

This type of garden is a unique and beautiful landscape that resonates with the simplicity and ruggedness of desert life.


A cozy Greek shaded terrace with tables and chairs

Evoking the warmth and luxury of Mediterranean coasts, this style usually incorporates terracotta tiles, olive trees, and aromatic herbs. It's perfect for sunny areas and pairs well with outdoor dining spaces.

To further capture the essence of the Mediterranean, integrating elements such as water features or a small pool can add a refreshing touch, reminiscent of the region's seaside charm. The use of natural stone in pathways or retaining walls, combined with lush plantings of lavender, rosemary, and other Mediterranean flora, creates a sensory experience that delights both the eyes and the nose.

Designers often include shaded areas, such as pergolas covered with climbing vines, to provide relief from the sun while maintaining the aesthetic. Adding an outdoor kitchen or a built-in grill can also enhance the Mediterranean feel, making it perfect for those who love to cook and dine al fresco.

Rustic country

A quaint country cottage in France with rustic patio furniture and garden

Ideal for rural or large properties, rustic country landscaping features natural materials like wood and stone. Elements like wildflower meadows, vegetable gardens, and rustic fences add to its charm.

To enhance the rustic aesthetic, incorporating repurposed items such as old farm equipment as garden art or using reclaimed wood for benches and arbors can add authenticity and character.

Landscape designers often use a mix of perennial and annual plants to create a garden that changes and evolves with the seasons, giving it a dynamic and lived-in feel. You can also add a small pond or a natural-looking stream to bring a sense of wildlife and serenity.

For functionality, pathways of gravel or flagstone, lined with native plants and grasses, lead the way through the garden, inviting exploration and enjoyment of the outdoors. Rustic country landscaping is ideal for those who appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape and want to create a peaceful, welcoming outdoor space that feels both timeless and personal.

Formal symmetry

A formal garden with a set of pools

In formal landscape design, symmetry and structure are paramount. Central features like fountains or statues anchor the layout, with pathways and plantings radiating in a balanced fashion. Maintenance is key in these designs to maintain the crisp, manicured look. This style is ideal for those who appreciate the elegance of orderly garden spaces.

Additionally, formal landscapes often incorporate neatly trimmed topiaries and uniformly shaped shrubs, enhancing the garden's symmetry and order. Elegant outdoor structures, such as gazebos or pergolas, can be strategically placed to complement the garden's layout.

Professional landscapers specializing in formal design may also integrate sculptured hedges or parterre gardens, adding to the landscape's grandeur and precision. This style, reflecting a sense of timeless beauty, is perfect for properties and clients seeking a garden that epitomizes classic elegance and controlled aesthetics.

Woodland wonderland

A woodland landscape design with lots of land and a tiny house

Embracing a woodland landscape allows for a serene and enchanting retreat that will remind you of hiking and forests and nature right in your backyard. This style is ideal for those who wish to create a natural oasis, blending their garden and property seamlessly with the surrounding trees.

A backyard landscaping company can artfully arrange ferns, mosses, and other shade-loving plants to flourish under the canopy, while carefully constructed natural paths guide you through this tranquil setting.

Woodland landscapes, enhanced by the skill of experienced landscape architects, provide a peaceful escape, inviting you to immerse yourself in the beauty and calm of a forest-like atmosphere. This approach is perfect for homeowners looking to transform their yard into a charming, woodland sanctuary.

We Turn Ideas Into Reality

Have you found the landscape design that speaks to you? If so, then you are ready to embark on a journey to enhance your outdoor space.

Landscape II has a skilled and experienced design team that is dedicated to bringing garden visions to life. We offer a wide range of design packages to cater to every aspect of landscaping:

Design-only consultation

For those seeking expert design advice, our landscape architects and designers are here to craft a bespoke plan that captures your vision and the essence of your property.

Expert installation

If you already have a design or are looking to materialize one of our custom designs, our skilled team is ready to execute it to perfection, covering all aspects from planting to hardscaping.

Ongoing maintenance

To keep your landscape pristine and your living plants thriving, we offer comprehensive maintenance services so that your backyard remains a constant source of joy and beauty.

Full-service landscaping

For the ultimate convenience, opt for our all-inclusive service. From the initial blueprint to the final touches and regular upkeep, we manage every detail, making your landscaping journey seamless and enjoyable.

Begin Your Landscaping Project Today!

Are you ready to transform your backyard into the paradise you've always envisioned? Landscape II is your partner in this creative endeavor. Our commitment to excellence, personalized approach, and dedication to customer satisfaction ensure your landscaping project will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Discover more about our services, view our diverse portfolio, and schedule your consultation through our website. With Landscape II, your outdoor space is a canvas for us to create something extraordinary together.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to design your own backyard?

To design your own backyard, start by assessing your space and determining your needs and preferences. Consider factors like sunlight, soil type, and how you want to use the yard (e.g., gardening, entertaining). Sketch a layout and decide on features like patios, plantings, or pools.

For detailed planning, consult a professional landscaper.

Is there an app to design your backyard?

Yes, there are several apps available for backyard design. These apps often allow you to create a virtual layout of your backyard, experiment with different landscaping features, and even visualize the final look using augmented reality.

What is outdoor design called?

Outdoor design is commonly referred to as landscape design. It involves planning, creating, and managing outdoor spaces like gardens, yards, patios, and other outdoor living areas.

Landscape design combines elements of art, environmental science, and horticulture to create functional and aesthetically pleasing outdoor environments.

What is the difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer?

Landscape architects typically handle larger, more complex projects, often requiring formal education and licensing. They focus on comprehensive site planning and environmental aspects.

Landscape designers work mainly on residential and smaller-scale projects, emphasizing garden aesthetics and functionality, usually without the need for formal licensing. Both contribute uniquely to creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces.


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