Architectural Landscape Elements For Function and Beauty

Adding architectural landscape elements to a residential environment instantly distinguishes it. The investment may be moderate but the uncommon talent required to design and construct these unique elements is greatly valued.

There are many options for outdoor utilitarian elements like fences, gates, walls, sheds, etc., that not only serve their intended purposes but add elegance and interest to your back yard.

When choosing building materials most purists will insist that wood is the gold standard. There’s nothing that adds warmth and natural beauty like wood.

Composite materials may need less maintenance, but some will argue that they can lack character and detract from the beauty of the complete outdoor environment. Therefore, you will have to balance character with durability. 

Here are some great options for enhancing the aesthetics of your property for years to come.

Custom Fencing for a Unique Look

Architectural Landscape Elements That Are Functional and Beautiful

As the poet Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors,” but no one said that your fence has to look like anyone else’s.

Custom fencing not only adds privacy, but it can enhance both the look and value of your home. And it comes in a number of styles, including:

  • Picket. A picket fence symbolizes the ideal suburban life. It has evenly spaced vertical boards (the pickets) attached to horizontal rails. It’s usually painted white. And while it might seem simple and plain, the stark white color and open style bring to mind openness and limitless opportunity, just like the suburbs.
  • Stockade. A stockade fence is constructed with wood boards that have pointed edges placed tightly against one another, giving you a solid panel. It offers the ultimate in privacy. Another advantage of stockade fencing is you can adjust the angle on the panel pieces when placing them on uneven surfaces. This means no gap in the bottom for pets to escape or critters to enter your yard.
  • Shadowbox. A shadowbox fence looks the same on both sides. It features standard posts with three rails spanning in between with a picket affixed to one side of the rails, then another picket on the other side of the rails with a slight overlap. This alternating pattern offers visual interest. This type of fence is especially durable because of the evenly distributed weight from the alternating pickets. One common customization is a convex panel top: The pickets create a convex arch from post to post, yielding a dog-ear profile. The look of the picket top itself also can be changed. The gothic top, which looks like a rounded spearhead, is popular for shadowbox fences, and it’s usually paired with gothic post caps.
  • Lattice and Trellis. This fencing is made out of just what it sounds like: lattices and trellises, with the lattices on the bottom and the trellises on top. This fencing is semi-private, so it’s great for fencing off a garden inside your yard. It can be customized to your taste with fascias, kickboards and fence post caps.

Decorative Gates: Express Yourself

Architectural Landscape Elements That Are Functional and Beautiful

Whether you have a large back yard or a small front yard, live in the city, or live in the country, having a unique gate can add interest to your home and express your personality. 

Gates can be made to match your fence, or you can go with something entirely different. 

Some ideas include:

  • Arched.
  • Flat.
  • Pointed.
  • Framed with a pergola.
  • Topped with a trellis.

Let your imagination go to work!

A Bridge to Relaxation and Contemplation

It’s not necessary to have lakefront property or a stream winding through your back yard to benefit from a custom-built garden bridge. That’s what makes an interesting garden design element.

A bridge can be used as a pathway through vegetation or over a creatively designed dry stream. It becomes a focal point that invites people to come closer. 

Even a small bridge can become used as a transition piece that leads to an intimate space. It’s not so much how the bridge functions but that it communicates movement and becomes a conversation piece.

Most bridges will have a railing for safety and security, but be sure to check your local building codes to be in compliance. One benefit to railings is that they can be further enhanced with built-in or informal rope lighting.

Restful Benches and Tables

If you are willing to invest the time you can discover new or used outdoor benches and tables with character. Some people actually prefer the patina of a naturally weathered wooden bench or table.  

Spice up your yard and add secret storage space with a custom-designed bench. Look no further than your mother’s old hope chest to the back seat of your grandfather’s old Buick. Of course, both of these ideas require some talent to make them work. 

The point is you can be elegant or whimsical, casual or formal. You can make your bench look like an old-fashioned park bench or a design that matches your arbor, gazebo, portico or pavilion.

Tables also can be made in many shapes and sizes with matching chairs. You can go with a traditional square, rectangular or round table or decide on something octagonal—when it’s custom made, you can make your ideal table design a reality.

Tables generally four legs to maximize stability, but yours can be made with a pedestal base made of metal or stone. 

Custom means (almost) no limits, so let your mind run with these ideas. 

Backyard Walls: Think Vertical

Walls in a garden? Of course, you can!

They can vary in height and design to suit the setting. However, be sure to hire a landscape designer with construction experience. Outdoor walls must be designed to withstand wind loads, and of course, the natural elements. 

Some great ideas for a backyard walls include:

  • A garden wall with boxes. Design your wall with boxes to hold decorative plants, or use them to grow herbs or vegetables.
  • A garden wall with planters. A wall made from slats can be used to hang planters.
  • An outdoor art gallery. Hang outdoor-friendly art, sculptures, and even mirrors to enhance a patio or other outdoor area.
  • Camouflage. A wall can hide a multitude of items, from unused flower pots to bags of soil to that ugly cinder block fence the former owner built. 

Create a small private space. Use a few walls to make a privacy screen. Add a bench or chair, some plants, and whatever else makes you happy. You even can design something slatted to let in more natural light.

Walls can create privacy, add ambiance, and offer unique planters for showing off ornamental plants with seasonal color. What are you waiting for?

Ready to Add Decorative, Functional Backyard Elements?

If you’re ready to add a distinctive architectural element to your yard or garden, turn to Architectural Landscape Design, Inc., a residential design-build company serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

We design gorgeous outdoor living spaces that increase the square footage of your home, improve your enjoyment of your outdoor space and help create a lifetime of memories with your loved ones.

Contact us today to talk about creating your perfect outdoor oasis.

Let’s Get Started