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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

Mid-Century modern homes are fairly rare in Portland. Many that used to exist have been remodeled beyond recognition. So if you are one of the few to have a true MCM gem, you want to do things right.Landscape design is a big part of the equation. How do you landscape your atomic ranch?The key is to respect and highlight the home’s natural lines. If you have one of the Rummers in Garden Home, you don’t want to hide it behind a hedge or busy planting beds. And while we love a graceful curving path as much as anyone- it probably won’t complement your home’s strong modern lines.There are many landscape styles that can work with a mid century home, they just have to be employed in the right way. That’s where we come in. Ben Bowen, landscape designer at Ross NW Watergardens, loves mid century modern.Contact us today for a free consultation.
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

When I first showed Ted’s sketch for the landscape design of this Eichler house, I promised more coverage of mid-century modern landscaping ideas. So here comes: Ted himself on some of the basics of mid-century modern design,  the first in a new series of guest posts from him. I’ll feature one or two a month — pretty much as many and as fast as he can crank them out. I know this is a big “want” and “need” of many readers. In fact, after you read this first story, I’d love to hear more from you about landscaping topics you’d like to Ted him cover.
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

Well, I think we can look at it in a couple of ways; traditional homes had one ‘look’, but mid-century modern ones quite another.  With the latter, a seamless quality between inside and outside was an integral aspect of mid-century modern architecture, and there’s a very recognizable vocabulary of rectilinear patios, clean lines, and bold curving shapes with no focal point or symmetry.  Influential landscape architects such as Garrett Eckbo were strongly influenced by the abstract painters of the mid-century.
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

There are many landscape styles that can work with a mid century home, they just have to be employed in the right way. That’s where we come in. Ben Bowen, landscape designer at Ross NW Watergardens, loves mid century modern.
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

This outdoor living area dramatically improved the curb appeal and livability of this simple mid century home. Save Cedar Hills outdoor spaceClassic Structures Inc. The front entrance as seen through Molinia arundinacea ‘Skyracer.’ Save Bayside – Mid Century MarvelousGinkgo Leaf Studio native, drought-tolerant plants accent the cool tones of the basalt inlay at the staggered entry steps, highlighting the cool modern material palette incorporated throughout the project. Save native landscape detail at basalt + concrete exterior stairMoss Yaw Design studio

Mid Century Modern Landscaping

Go Light on Landscaping: In terms of landscaping, again, think minimal; think sustainable. The midcentury modern design philosophy was to be in harmony with the outside. Thomas Porter of Everything Outdoors, a landscaping firm in Atlanta, recommends using plants indigenous to your region.
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

Hardscape. Walkways, paths, patios, and steps have simple lines. The percentage of hardscape to softscape is often higher than in other design styles. Materials may be mixed to add texture. Concrete and simple pavers are often utilized.Wood. Wood is often paired with concrete, even integrated in the same element. Fences and screens may have horizontal or geometric patterns.Metal. Steel edging, Corten planters, and metal trellises are staples. Metal is clean but also acquires a natural patina, perfect for the modern gardenPlants. Any plant palette can be used. However, plants with strong structures and bold colors are often best. The structure of the plants chosen can reinforce the strong lines of hardscape. Bold color and texture can add life and variety.Water. Water features are usually formal fountains or reflecting pools. A reflecting pool uses water as just another flat surface along concrete or pavers. However, the dark cool stillness of water adds an element that no hardscape can.Boulders. Not as essential as in some other styles. When used they may be striking upright focal points. Alternatively, they may serve as “islands”, quietly floating in a simple bed of decomposed granite.Lawn. The MCM design aesthetic emphasizes simplicity and practicality. Lawn needs to have a purpose or it should be replaced. “Mid-Century architecture was frequently employed in residential structures with the goal of bringing modernism into America’s post-war suburbs. This style emphasized creating structures with ample windows and open floor plans, with the intention of opening up interior spaces and bringing the outdoors in.” — Wikipedia 5 Principles of MCM Landscaping
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Mid Century Modern Landscaping

Well, we were unable to secure one of those precious mid-century mod homes from yesteryear due to the few left in our part of NC being demolished rather than available for purchase. Instead, we got an original old-school architectural drawn plan for one that was built in 1958 and had it built new with very few changes other than updates per building code. We are on a wooded site, which helps our flow into the outdoors. Any suggestions for landscaping and gardening as we prepare for Spring?
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Inventing the Modern Garden: The Miller House and Garden The Miller House, designed by Eero Saarinen, has a landmark Modernist garden designed by Dan Kiley. This month, May 2011, the house and garden are opening to the public for tours for the first time in 50 years, allowing visitors to walk through this triumph of mid-century Modern design.
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Designing a Contemporary Garden with Warmth When taken to the extreme, modern landscaping sometimes seems cold or uninviting. Yet modern design’s emphasis on crafting an organized space and respecting unadorned materials has the potential to create a setting which feels not only friendly and inviting, but also personalized and artful. Designer Colin Miller of Envision Landscape Studio in Walnut Creek, California, shares tips on designing a contemporary landscape that is suited to the welcoming indoor-outdoor lifestyle modern gardeners are trying to create.
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When taken to the extreme, modern landscaping sometimes seems cold or uninviting. Yet modern design’s emphasis on crafting an organized space and respecting unadorned materials has the potential to create a setting which feels not only friendly and inviting, but also personalized and artful. Designer Colin Miller of Envision Landscape Studio in Walnut Creek, California, shares tips on designing a contemporary landscape that is suited to the welcoming indoor-outdoor lifestyle modern gardeners are trying to create.
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The Miller House, designed by Eero Saarinen, has a landmark Modernist garden designed by Dan Kiley. This month, May 2011, the house and garden are opening to the public for tours for the first time in 50 years, allowing visitors to walk through this triumph of mid-century Modern design.
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Mid-century modern garden design is very diverse, even though it has an unmistakable ‘vocabulary’ as I described.  But if I had to choose one specific project that’s really iconic for the period, that would have to be the Donnell Garden in northern California. Thomas Church is generally recognized as the first landscape architect to reject his Beaux-Arts training of classical formality, in favor of a Modernist approach that both responded to and defined the “California Style” of relaxed outdoor living.  In 1946, Church created a pool area whose genius is in the clean, sweeping curves that echo distant views of rolling hills and San Francisco Bay beyond the rural landscape of their ranch.  The Donnell descendants have done a wonderful job maintaining it in its original state, and I think its elegant simplicity is the reason it still draws admirers today to see it, sixty-four years later.
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Whether it’s a manicured front lawn, stone-paved pathway or intricate landscape design, midcentury landscapes benefit from the same attention to detail that the interior of your home does. Well-executed landscaping ideas can upgrade your home’s entire aesthetic, and the right plants, flowers and shrubbery can greatly enhance your curb appeal by adding color, texture and even fragrance to your yard. More
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Above: Mark proposed the rock garden and chose the individual rocks himself. The rock concept, says Mullins, “ties into a lot of the Asian influences on midcentury design,” noting that it was “fun to think about what Eichler might have been inspired by in this decade.” Behind the rock is a landscaping uplight, which illuminates the garden at night and lends a festive atmosphere during parties.
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I’m a sole practitioner, designing and managing the construction of landscape projects for a mostly-residential clientele.  After Clemson University’s five-year LA program, I followed the path of most young graduates and went to work at conventional landscape architectural firms, whose focus is typically on larger commercial projects.  While these provide great experience in such technical issues as drainage and construction detailing, the reality is that the bread & butter work of most firms are conventional shopping centers and office parks and the like, where the developer is motivated to follow only the most basic landscaping requirements, rather than the sorts of cutting-edge high design praised in architectural journals.  I’ve always maintained that you could train a monkey to sit in front of a computer and stamp tree symbols on a Wal-Mart parking lot plan.  I gravitated to garden design, where the “end user” is excited about really making their home their own modest version of paradise, and the opportunities to do it creatively are so much greater.  

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15 Photos of the "Mid Century Modern Landscaping"

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