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Landscaping Trends Across Different Climates: A Horticultural Joy Ride

submitted on 4 August 2023 by


If you're anything like me (and God help you if you are), you've spent countless hours pondering the great existential questions in life. But none, I dare say, are as important as the question that vexes gardeners and aesthetes alike: what on Earth will my backyard look like this year? Fear not, my green-thumbed friends, for I have traversed the globe, braving the scorching desert sun, the bone-chilling Arctic winds, and the confusingly pleasant climate of San Diego to bring you the latest and greatest in landscaping trends. So, buckle up, pour yourself a stiff drink, and prepare to be educated, entertained, and possibly even enraged by these horticultural revelations.

The Arid Southwest: A Cacti Conundrum

In the land of the Saguaro cactus and the roadrunner, water is a precious commodity as rare as a coherent thought from a politician. Gardeners in these arid climes have had to adapt to the harsh, sun-scorched conditions, resulting in the rise of the almighty xeriscape. Short for "Xerox copied from a barren wasteland," xeriscaping involves landscaping with water-efficient plants and materials that will make your backyard resemble Mars, minus the rovers.

  • Drought-tolerant plants: Succulents are the star of this waterless show, with their plump, fleshy leaves storing moisture like desperate camels. Aloe Vera, Agave, and even the humble cactus all get top billing in a desert landscape.
  • Rock gardens: In lieu of lush green grass, consider a sea of gravel, pebbles, or larger boulders. This will not only reduce your water bill but also double as a medieval-style foot massage every time you step outside.
  • Minimalist design: Embrace the barren beauty of the desert and opt for a simple landscape with clean lines and sparse plantings. After all, the less there is, the less there is to water.

The Humid Southeast: A Swampy Soiree

In the land of mosquitoes, humidity, and countless frizzy-haired inhabitants, landscaping is less about conserving water and more about wrestling with the overabundance of it. Enter the rain garden: an ecological hero designed to capture and filter stormwater runoff, transforming your sodden backyard into a sopping wet paradise.

  • Native plants: Utilize plants that thrive in wet conditions, such as Louisiana Iris, Swamp Milkweed, or the whimsically named Turtlehead.
  • Grassy swales: These shallow, grassy ditches not only help filter and slow down stormwater but also perfectly capture the essence of "swampland chic."
  • Permeable paving: Opt for permeable materials like gravel or pervious concrete to minimize water runoff and maximize your eco-friendly street cred.

The Frigid North: A Permafrost Party

In the land of the midnight sun, where the ground is frozen solid and the only plant that dares to grow is the stubbornly persistent lichen, you might think landscaping would be about as likely as finding a snowball in hell. However, resilient gardeners have found ways to create a semblance of greenery in even the most inhospitable conditions.

  • Hardy perennials: Choose rugged plants that laugh in the face of frost, like Siberian Irises, Arctic Poppies, or the evergreen Ground Juniper.
  • Rock gardens: These come in handy once again as a way to add texture and interest to an otherwise icy landscape. Plus, they won't wilt and die like your delicate tropical blooms.
  • Winter interest: Embrace the stark beauty of winter by selecting plants with interesting bark, seed pods, or berries that will add some visual intrigue to your otherwise desolate tundra.

The Mild West: A Mediterranean Melange

And finally, we arrive in the pleasant, Mediterranean-esque climate of the Western coast, where sunshine is abundant, temperatures are moderate, and one can almost smell the smug self-satisfaction in the air. Gardeners in this fortunate climate can indulge in a veritable botanical buffet, with a focus on sustainable and low-maintenance plantings.

  • Edible gardens: Why not combine form and function by incorporating fruit trees, herbs, and vegetable patches into your landscape design? Your garden will look bountiful, and you'll have a newfound appreciation for the phrase "farm to table."
  • Drought-tolerant plants: While water may not be as scarce as in the Southwest, it's still a precious resource. Opt for plants that sip rather than guzzle, like Lavender, Sage, or the ever-versatile Succulent.
  • Outdoor living spaces: With such pleasant weather year-round, why not extend your living area to the great outdoors? Patios, pergolas, and fire pits all beckon for you to come outside and bask in your idyllic climate (but please, try not to gloat).


So, there you have it: a whirlwind tour of landscaping trends from coast to coast and pole to pole. Armed with this newfound knowledge, you're all set to transform your own backyard into a regionally appropriate, horticultural utopia. And if all else fails, you can always just cover your entire yard in AstroTurf and call it a day.
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