This topic has gotten a lot of attention and there are dozens of opinions as to what it means.  Let me start by saying that there is a difference between ‘natural’ and ‘naturalistic’ landscaping in my opinion.  Naturalistic landscape design has more to do the aesthetic that you are trying to achieve than ecology.  Here are a few points that should help make since of this.

  • Achieving a naturalistic landscape does NOT require using all native species.  It has more to do with plant placement and natural flow of the design than the types of plants you are using.  While using native plants is a good thing.  Don’t box yourself in by only using only natives.  There are some great non-native species that will thrive in your garden.  However PLEASE stay away from invasive species.
  • Stay away from symmetry and reoccurring patters unless something on your property requires it, like the front entrance of your home.  Think asymmetrical.  Keep things balanced in terms of size, form and texture.  A naturalistic landscape will have a ‘rhythm’ that is present but not easily defined.
  • Naturalistic landscaping has a natural feel but does not come without thorough planning and intention.  It is not messy and chaotic.
  • Don’t over do the color palate.  In nature, you won’t find an over abundance of flowers at any given time.  Various plants bloom in different seasons, giving you something to enjoy throughout the year.
  • PUT THE SHEARS AWAY!  Be sure to choose plants that need little to no pruning.  This is more about plant placement than plant choice.  Too often I see great plants, placed in terrible locations, creating anything but a low maintenance landscape.  Situations like this require constant pruning which results in an unnatural look.  All plants have a natural shape and form that improves over times if left alone.   Let the plants grow.  Allowing each plant to achieve its’s natural form with result in beautiful and natural landscape.


I truly hope this information is helpful!


Brian Patterson

President/Landscape Designer

Trophy Landscape