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Landscape Design

Spanish Garden Design Tips

Eight dos and don'ts for designing outdoors in the Spanish style

  • colored stucco on fireplace The colored stucco on this fireplace is an example of an iconic Spanish element.
  • antique iron grate The timeless beauty of an antique iron grate will bring an enduring charm to a Spanish-style landscape.
  • overplant succulents and perennial flowers Don't be afraid to overplant succulents and perennial flowers for a full look right away. You can always remove a few later if necessary.
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Spanish Landscape Design Pdf

Spanish Landscape Style Guide

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

Spanish Landscape Style Guide (PDF)

View all Landscape Design Style Guides

The Designer's Favorite Sources:

California Cactus Center in Pasadena, CA is a family business owned by three talented sisters. This is the place to come for fabulous specimen succulents and cacti. You'll find rare and unusual varieties as well as large, beautifully-trained versions of more common types of cacti and succulent.

Berbere Imports in Culver City, CA has a diverse selection of pottery from around the world. Thailand, Korea, Morocco, Turkey, Japan and other countries are represented in the carefully-curated store. New pottery arrives often, so if you find something you like, snatch it up quickly as it may not be there next time.

The Spanish landscape is a study in contrasts. Boldly colored glazed tiles are set against the sun-baked terra cotta of Saltillo pavers, while vivid plantings mingle with weathered iron and stone. These contrasts bring a lively sense of timelessness to the Spanish design style.

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Sandy Koepke, a garden designer and interior designer near Los Angeles, CA, has been creating beautiful outdoor rooms and garden spaces for over 15 years. Her bold and eclectic approach suits the Spanish landscape perfectly, and here she shares her professional tips for getting this look.

Dos:

  • Do choose iconic Spanish elements such as white or colored stucco, Saltillo pavers, colored tile and iron work. These are the common threads that help your landscaping fit in with the Spanish style of architecture.
  • Do choose bold paint colors for the outdoors. While most people choose quiet colors for the interior, the garden is a place to play with stronger colors. Because there's no ceiling reflecting the color back at you, bright colors can enliven an outdoor space without overwhelming it.
  • Do embellish concrete patios and pathways to give them personality. Adding a meandering line of river rock or repeating elements like tile within the concrete can make even your pathways an artistic part of the décor.
  • Do connect every plant to a drip irrigation system. In a hot landscape, a drip irrigation system is an easy way of making sure each plant and pot is getting just the right amount of water, with no waste.

Don'ts:

  • Don't be shy in choosing one-of-a-kind found objects for your landscaping. Antique stores and salvage shops can be a great source for unusual items, and the timeless beauty of an antique iron grate or a lamp with a patina brings an enduring charm to your Spanish-style landscape.
  • Don't throw away stone, brick or concrete that's already on your property. You can construct attractive knee walls, terraces or pathways with salvaged materials. Not only does re-using materials save money, it also provides a unique character and sense of history in your garden.
  • Don't be afraid to overplant succulents and perennial flowers for a full look right away. Planting groundcovering plants in this way helps hold down weeds, and if you end up planting too many, you can easily remove a few later.
  • Don't feel that every piece must be authentic to a period or style of architecture. To create a feeling of continuity throughout the landscape, Koepke suggests repeating colors or materials. "Have fun and be playful!" says Koepke. Mixing styles and regions lets you explore your personality and leads to an artistic, interesting space.

In any landscape, Koepke advises that you start by thinking about how you'll use the space. One of the key considerations is examining what's happening inside the house. For example, if you have a small dining room, you may like to open it up by adding sliding glass doors and creating a courtyard garden to improve the look and usefulness of your space. "By expanding your room to include an outdoor view, you can create a whole new living area," explains Koepke.

Koepke's also a big fan of leaving room for serendipity to happen. While an overall plan is critical to making sure you have an attractive and useful space, be flexible enough for the plan and décor to evolve during installation and after. You never know when you or your designer will find the perfect plant, cushion or fountain to highlight your new outdoor space.

Sandy Koepke

Sandy Koepke Interior and Garden Design is based in Los Angeles, CA. Koepke describes her design sense as fun, relaxed, imaginative and effortless.

Contributing Author:

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

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