California Casual
ripe persimmons in basket after a successful harvest

Landscape Architecture has seen many movements and style trends that influence the aesthetic of designed outdoor space.  The variety of definitions of beauty is one thing we love about our work, and we are always looking forward to what is coming next.  Northern California has always had its own unique look, and it is one that is constantly evolving.  In recent years, we have seen California’s casual, vibrant, and varied aesthetic combine with low-water landscape wisdom to influence design style.  We are embracing these trends in our designs as the future of the California Casual landscape.

Casual Elegance

Soft flower borders and gravel paths, sculptural heritage oaks and flowing grasses meet clean hardscape, strong architecture, and sublime landscape lighting.  Elegant but unquestionably welcoming, the California landscape invites good times without the pressure of formality.

A gravel path edged with soft plantings leads to an olive-encircled garden retreat in this California-style garden.

Textures and colors combine effortlessly for a dramatic entrance up a stone staircase.  The low water bill makes this landscape all the more appealing!

Mediterranean Influence

California has long been influenced by Mediterranean culture, and our natural Mediterranean climate also influences our gardens and our style choices.  Plants from the Mediterranean climates of the world (including coastal Australia and South Africa) thrive naturally here.  Unique in their forms and with their own definition of beauty, these plants are coming to define the new California garden style from San Francisco to Sonoma.

The Wave Garden in Richmond shows off Australian and South African plants with Mediterranean-style hardscape.  These Leucodendrons require coastal temperate weather, but for the inland garden there are a wealth of options including Phormiums, Euphorbias, and the wildly adorable Kangaroo Paw.


Native plants have been popular in Bay Area gardening for some time, but they are gaining popularity in Landscape Architecture as we improve our understanding of their potential.  While many California natives enter summer dormancy, others stay presentable throughout the year.  When combined with other Mediterranean plants, they can add wonderful structure, color, and authenticity to a California garden.

The rich color of California Fuschia is a stunning addition to a sunny border, and pairs beautifully with native succulents, grasses, and others.

Native Cedros Island Verbena and others also have the benefit of feeding our native pollinators, like this Swallowtail butterfly.

Outdoor Life

Here in California, we embrace outdoor living as a lifestyle!  Perhaps the greatest influence on the new California Landscape is our desire to inhabit it as much as possible.  From the recent trend in backyard bocce and outdoor entertainment to the time-honored California tradition of homegrown food and wine, the landscape is part of our everyday life.  Landscapes are our passion, and we are grateful for the chance to be part of the experience of helping our clients love their leisure.

Planning a style update for your Spring landscape? Look no further! The team here at J. Montgomery designs landscapes at all scales. We can start from scratch with complete Landscape Architectural plans, or spruce up a tired yard with new ideas and contemporary planting. Contact our studio for a complimentary consultation!