With its rustic character and colorful sprays of plants, a country landscape design can give your backyard a warmer, more inviting look. The combination of natural elements and elegant, old-fashioned accessories provides plenty of quaint charm, so it works well with farmhouse, ranch, rustic or Victorian architecture. The key to the look, though, is creating a simple, functional landscape that still includes decorative features for a balanced design.
Mix Ornamental and Practical Plants
A country landscape usually features a variety of lush, colorful plants that combine decorative and useful options. Brighten up the yard with blooming shrubs such as bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 through 9) or azalea (Rhododendron indicum, hardy in USDA zones 7 through 8). Ornamental grasses, including fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum "Rubrum," hardy in USDA zones 9 through 10), can help add texture and movement to the landscape, while climbing vines such as cross vine (Bignonia capreolata, hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9) can cover walls, fences and other structures to expand the reach of the plantings. Don’t forget to include plants that have a more practical purpose like herbs, including lavender (Lavandula angustifolia "Munstead," hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8) and sage (Salvia officinalis, hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8), and fruit trees, such as red delicious apple (Malus x domestica, hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8), to play up the classic country look.
Create Rustic Paths
Paved areas in a country landscape should use rustic materials to give the yard a simple, natural feel. Cobblestone is a classic option for both patios and walkways, and it works well if you want a more elegant look for the yard. Or use weathered brick for paved areas to add some romantic charm to the landscape. If you’re on a budget, though, consider gravel for garden paths and patio areas. The loose stones are inexpensive and easy to install, so it’s an ideal material if you want to build your own paths or patio. When you’re planning walkways and patios, keep in mind that curved, windy paths fit the country landscape aesthetic better than straight, angular styles.
Add a Garden Structure
Make room in the yard for a garden structure that helps highlight the quaint charm of a country landscape. In a large yard, a gazebo can become a focal point that helps define the space. Opt for a wrought-iron or wooden style, and consider adding a bistro-style table and chairs set or wicker chairs so you can use the gazebo as a quiet spot to dine, read or lounge. In a smaller yard, use an arbor to mark the entrance to the garden or the start of a path. Training climbing plants such as cross vine or New Dawn roses (Rosa "New Dawn," hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9) to grow over the arbor helps it blend with the rest of the landscape, yielding a more romantic look. Don’t forget fencing for the yard either -- traditional white picket fencing fits a country style landscape to a tee, so use it to enclose the entire yard or just the garden area.
Build Character With Accessories
To put the finishing touches on a country backyard, it helps to include accessories that add some more quaint charm to the landscape. Find a spot for a birdhouse or stone birdbath to help attract local wildlife and bring a little whimsy to the yard. Antiques also work well with the rustic design, so set a vintage garden statute or sundial among the flower beds to add visual interest. Or go even more rustic by displaying antique watering cans, shovels and other gardening tools among the plantings. Stone and terracotta pots are ideal for holding container plants, but you can also recycle old barrels and steel tubs to use as planters.
- Country Living: 28 New Ways to Landscape Your Yard
- Landscaping Network: Country Landscape Design
- Mother Earth News: Landscaping Ideas for Your Country Home
- Landscape Design Advisor: Country Landscape Design Ideas for Creating Simplistic Charm
- North Carolina State University Cooperative: Hydrangea Macrophylla
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhododendron Indicum
- North Carolina State University Cooperative: Bignonia Capreolata
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Salvia Officinalis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Lavandula Angustifolia 'Munstead'
- Arbor Day Foundation: Apple, Red Delicious Malus x Domestica
- Photo Credit Laure Neish/iStock/Getty Images
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