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Colonial Gardens

Eight dos and don'ts for landscaping a Colonial home

  • Revolutionary Gardens Traditional paving materials such as stone and brick are most appropriate for colonial landscaping.
  • Revolutionary Gardens Broad swathes of flowering shrubs and perennials contrast nicely with the bold lines of evergreens.
  • Revolutionary Gardens
Manassas Park, VA A gently curving pathway softens the architecture and feels welcoming.
  • Revolutionary Gardens
Manassas Park, VA Landscape designer David Marciniak of Revolutionary Gardens.
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Colonial Landscape Design Style Sheet

Colonial Landscape Design

Use this design sheet to help you create the perfect Colonial landscape. You'll get ideas for color, décor, materials, plants and fabric. It is a great starting point for any New England landscaping project.

Colonial Landscape Design (PDF)

View all Landscape Design Style Guides

The Colonial style of architecture brings to mind stately, symmetrical homes with white columns anchoring the entry. Clipped boxwood hedges, topiary, and stone are the traditional elements in Colonial landscape design, and set an impressive scene in large estates. But in the home landscape, Virginia-based landscape designer David Marciniak, of Revolutionary Gardens, tries for a softer, more personalized approach to give the landscape a welcoming appearance. He designs custom landscapes that express the personality of the people living there, while still reflecting the classic New England architecture of the area.

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Here, Marciniak shares his professional tips for creating a comfortable landscape that highlights the best of Colonial architecture while still expressing your personal style.

Dos:

  • Do use flowing curves throughout the landscape. A straight pathway from the street to the front door can look a little stern next to the strong lines of a Colonial home. A gently-curving front walkway softens the architecture and makes the entry feel more welcoming.
  • Do repeat colors and other elements of the architecture in the landscape. A white picket fence, white posts or finials, and brick columns are all possibilities for bringing the architecture into the garden.
  • Do emphasize the front door, then move the eye across the property with broad swathes of spirea, hydrangeas, daylilies, and other perennials and shrubs.
  • Do consider leaving your boxwood unclipped. A curving boxwood hedge can give a nod to traditional design without feeling stiff and formal, and leaving it unclipped gives a loose, natural appearance which contrasts well with the architecture.

Don'ts:

  • Don't be afraid to choose a big tree. In historic Colonial neighborhoods, the mature trees set the scene. The height and columns on Colonial buildings deserve a suitably majestic tree.
  • Don't use pavers or concrete. Since stone is a traditional element in Colonial landscape design, stamped concrete or pavers can look out of place. If you use them, be sure to choose carefully so they look like real stone.
  • Don't be too wedded to the theme. "Unless you live in Colonial Williamsburg, there's no need to try so hard," Marciniak says. Let your architecture and a few well-chosen elements speak for themselves.
  • And most importantly, don't lose your personality in your landscape design. Be quirky! With careful thought, any element can be used appropriately within the theme. The best gardens reflect the character of the people who live there.

About David MarciniakMarciniak's design background encompasses such diverse locations as the Southwest, California, and Ohio; yet he grew up in Rhode Island, so his first exposure to design and architecture was steeped in that New England aesthetic. Though Marciniak uses a lot of traditional elements when designing for this style of home, he also tries to bring a more naturalistic, flowing look to help soften the strong columns and formal symmetry found in traditional Colonial architecture.

Revolutionary Gardens
Manassas Park, VA

Contributing Author:

Genevieve Schmidt, contributing writer for Landscaping Network and owner of North Coast Gardening

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