Top Landscape Design Trends for 2020

December 11, 2019

When it comes to landscape design, we have learned to expect the unexpected – especially here in Portland, where doing your own thing seems to be a cultural hallmark.

In spite of the strong creative and independent Portland spirit (which we love), we have seen certain trends manifest in yards and landscapes across the city over the years and 2020 will be no different. Here are our top five trends we’re seeing as we head into the new year.


  1.       Low Maintenance – We want things to be easy!

Yard work has never been high on the list of “fun things to do” which is why this trend should come as no surprise. Smaller lawns with low-maintenance grass, or turf alternatives like plant ground covers; as well as decorative rocks, mulch, and native plantings are more widely used than ever before. The added benefit – these lower maintenance elements allow for lots of creativity in design and can add interest and curb appeal to an otherwise bland expanse of lawn.

And when installing a low maintenance landscape isn’t enough, Portlanders are not shy about hiring yard service out! Landscape maintenance services will continue to be in high demand and will, of course, continue to be one of our top services too.


  1.       Sustainable Design – We want to be good to the environment.

Kim and Tom Leech Garden


Sustainability is the buzzword permeating all facets of life these days, but in landscape design, it is also a trend that has taken hold. While we want beautiful landscapes, yards we can enjoy, and outdoor spaces for living and entertaining, we also want to minimize our environmental impact. Natural drainage systems and bioswales, permeable pavers, native plant selections, low-maintenance materials in walkways, patios, decks, and structures offer a multitude of solutions and today, more than ever, the design options are really only limited by imagination. 


  1.       Mixed Elements – It’s all about creative expression!

While some will argue you should never mix plaid and stripes, when it comes to landscapes, and especially hard surfaces, combining different patterns, textures and materials can yield beautiful results. This trend of mixing elements – wood, iron, stone, tile, etc. – has been all the rage in interior design and we’re seeing it carry over into landscape design. Recycled (or repurposed) and new materials; natural and manufactured; industrial and craftsman elements are all being combined in new and exciting ways. Pergolas, walls, decks, and patios, walkways – you name it – creativity in product selection is reigning supreme.


  1.       Invisible Lighting – Say what?

Britta and Shawn Bavaresco Garden

You read it right – invisible lighting. No, we don’t mean you can’t see the light. The trend is lighting sources that blend into the landscape or hardscapes so what you do see is only what you want to illuminate, not the light fixture itself. Installing lights into the landscape is nothing new, but the new trend is towards sleek, minimalist linear lighting tucked in along walkways or under-mounted lights that create an illusion of floating steps, planters or even patio covers. Along with this trend, you will also see more options for LED and low voltage light fixtures, which of course ties back to being low maintenance and more sustainable.



And lastly, drum roll, please…


  1.       Multi-Function Landscapes – We want it all!

Landscape E&W, Carol Frankel’s Garden

Outdoor living spaces, entertaining space, private retreats, dog runs, sport-courts, vegetable gardens, natural spaces, the list goes on. Portlanders don’t just want a beautiful yard to be the envy of the neighborhood, they want to live in their outdoor spaces and maximize every square inch. As new neighborhood developments tend to come with smaller yards, the need for multi-purpose space is paramount. We love designing creative solutions for large or small yards and some of the multi-function elements topping the list for 2020 include:

  • Patio walls with varying heights and built-in seating, bar tops or container gardens to define a space or provide privacy with both form and function.
  • Planter walls or vertical gardens also serve as a privacy screen.
  • Edible plantings along walkways for natural beauty and small space gardening.
  • Covered patios complete with modern technology, light, and heat to bring the indoors out with year-round comfort.


So, will you follow the trends or be your own trendsetter in 2020? Either way, you can count on the design teams at Landscape East & West to deliver creative solutions so you can have a landscape or yard that fits your personal style.