Your home-and its land- is where the heart is. Integral to the comfort and beauty of your home, your outdoor living space should be a space that both welcomes you home upon any return and beckons you outdoors no matter the season.

As you approach a new landscape project, therefore, consider letting a landscape architect help you envision the right marriage between your site, its climate conditions, and the planned use of your outdoor space. In addition to the engineering, architectural, and planting elements of a site plan, it is the “intangible properties of the site” that a professional can understand as he or she “finds the heart and soul of the land,” says landscape architect Katherine Field. Sun, wind, and shade- these are nuanced factors that a landscape architect can navigate to ensure that your landscape is just as beautiful as your home. Septic system placement, zoning limitations, grading that causes potential basement flooding, room orientation for best views- these are the tangible aspects that a landscape architect can help address during new home construction, especially in relation to your deck, patio, or pool space.

What this vision translates into for you is the most apprropriate placement of a contemplation garden, for example, or the creation of an entry garden that reflects a homeowner’s interior design preferences. Whether designing a contemporary landscape or a traditional one, Field is guided by her philosophy of achieving “an established look that isn’t overly decorated.” This approach results in Field’s use of native plants and trees, which evoke a natural yet aesthetically pleasing look.

Field recommends the use of native plants, particularly in larger landscapes, as a fitting and pleasing means by which “to restore the natural character” of your yard. “There is value in natural habitats,” notes Field. Aesthetically, integrating native trees, plants, and flowers can help provide appealing colors throughout the year. Functionally, they can boast lower maintenance.

Field offers the following additional tips for achieving a natural look in your yard:

– Use simple plant palettes throughout the yard;

– Avoid using too many types of plants by integrating a class of plants in different varieties (e.g., roses or hydrangea);

– Layer plants and over-story trees;

– Be wary of ornamental grasses, which can look out of place or overly fussy; and

– Use the “squint test” if you are having a stone wall built (no stone should jump out due to color, size, or orientation).

Remember that you are the most natural part of your landscape. So enjoy your outdoor space throughout the year!

For plants best suited for Southern New England landscape architect Katherine Field recommends the following:


Abesi fraseri – Fraser Fir

Chamaecyparis thyoides – Atlantic White Cedar

Juniperus virginiana – Eastern Red Cedar

Picea glauca – White Spruce


Acer rubrum – Red Maple

Amelanchier laevis -Shadblow Serviceberry

Betula papyrifera- Paper Birch

Cornus florida – Flowering Dogwood

Fagus grandifolia – American Beech

Franklinia alatamaha – Franklin Tree

Halesia carolina – Carolina Silverbel

Liriodendron tulipifera – Tulip Poplar

Magnolia virginiana – Sweetbay Magnolia

Nyssa sylvatica – Tupelo

Oxydendrum arboretum -Sourwood


Azalea vaseyi – Pinkshell Azalea

Calycanthus floridus – Carolina Allspice

Clethra Alnifolia – Summersweet

Cornus amomum – Silky Dogwood

Hydrangea quercifolia – Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hypericum frondosum – Golden St. John’s Wort

Ilex verticillata – Common Winterberry

Myrica pennsylvanica – Bayberry

Prunus maritime – Beach Plum

Vaccinium angustifolium – Low Bush Blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum – High Bush Blueberry

Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood Viburnum


Campsis radicans – Trumpet Vine

Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia Creeper


Aster novae-angliae – New England Aster

Baptesia australis – Blue False Indigo

Cimicifuga ragemosa – Black Bugbane

Dicentra eximia – Fringed Bleeding Heart

Eupatorium fistulosum – Hollow Joe-Pye Weed

Heliopsis helianthoides – Oxeye

Liatris spicata – Dense Blazing Star

Phystostegia virginiana -False Dragonhead

Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root


Dennstaedtia punctiloba – Hay Scented Fern


Panicum virgatum – Switch Grass