Ready to design your MCM style garden? These tips from landscape architect James Drzewiecki CPLD—an award-winning designer and principal of Ginkgo Leaf Studio, a landscape design firm in Cedarburg, Wisconsin—will help get you started as you approach your own mid century garden project.
Get in the zone. When it comes to landscape design, one size does not fit all. Do a little research to understand your area and what types of plants and foliage will thrive in your region. The Midwest, for example, falls into Zones 4 through 6, with a bit of trickle into Zone 3 and Zone 7. Keep in mind, what thrives in a particular zone can utterly fail just one zone over.
Know your area. Broad regions, such as the West, Southwest, Midwest, etc., have regions within them, and plant hardiness can differ from region to region—even if they’re in the same zone. Get familiar with weather patterns, soil types and even local wildlife (who may be tempted to help themselves to a dinner serving of your fauna). Once you understand these differences, you will be able to plan your landscape with confidence.
Be intentional with your selections. Consider your home, neighborhood, available space and budget before settling on any one design. There are more foliage options than ever before that suit a mid-century landscape design—even more than there were at the height of the period itself. The standard in the 1950s and ’60s was clipped yew evergreen, which is hard to maintain. Today, the variety of ornamental grasses, shrubs and flowers that lend themselves to the style are prolific and ever changing. Most of all, select what you like and what you’ll enjoy seeing every day.
Don’t get carried away with color. Mid-century is all about clean lines and subtle hues. And while “there is the opportunity to use a lot more variety, you’ll want to keep the landscape simple and within a controlled color palette,” James says. “At least in the Midwest, bright yellow, orange, red and other vibrant colors aren’t particularly suited to the style.”
For more information about Ginkgo Leaf Studio, visit ginkgoleafstudio.net.
Check out more of their work by reading A Wisconsin Yard Gets a Dream Modern Makeover.