Like it or not, your landscape says something about you and your personality. Do you like what it is saying? If not, don’t let your landscape talk behind your backyard. Experts have tips for ways to create a landscape that matches your personality and tells the world, in green, who you are.

Aligning your landscape and your personality is as much psychology as it is planting.

“Creating a landscape that is both a reflection of its creator’s personality and pleasing to them is a relatively complicated process,” said Bryan Stoddard, director of Homewares Insider, a website for do-it-yourself homeowners.

Landscape architect Francesca Sideris of Langlea Garden Design & Construction in the city of Brighton and Hove, south of London, looks for clues to a client’s personality in everyday items.

“I take inspiration from the client’s home such as the type of artwork they have, their interior design style, ornaments or trinkets on display,” she says. “I notice the cups they drink from, the type of dog they have. The way they dress. The curtains!

“If I’m designing for a bolder personality, the garden design is often bold. I’m also interested in the type of activities they enjoy in their free time. If someone is very sociable they often require a large entertaining area, maybe a firepit or heaters to allow for sitting out late. If a client is very private or more introverted they may value lots of screening around the garden and a more relaxed ‘oasis’ feel.”

Assess Your Personality

Several experts suggest that the place to start is by asking yourself some questions to help you see what your personality truly is. After all, how can you expect your landscape design to mirror what you can’t see?

What turns you on most about being outdoors? Think back to your favorite memory of a yard. What stimulated you? The smell of fresh-cut grass? The sound of a brook? The laughter of a gathering of friends?

Your answers to these questions will guide you toward which features in your outdoor space you want to include in your new landscape design, whether it’s a lush yard, a water feature, swimming pool or an outdoor kitchen and entertainment area.

Big 5 Personality Traits

For a deeper dive into your personality type, patio designer and outdoor-living enthusiast Eric Clark suggests you grade yourself on the Big Five Personality Trait Spectrum, used in psychology to assess people on their fundamental traits. The five traits are:

  • Openness to experience. Are you inventive and curious? Or more consistent and cautious?
  • Conscientiousness. Are you efficient and organized? Or more on the easygoing and even sometimes careless side?
  • Extroversion. Would you say you are outgoing and energetic? Or more of a reserved loner type?
  • Agreeableness. Do people say you are friendly and compassionate? Or would challenging and detached come to mind?
  • Neuroticism. You’re secure and confident? Or would sensitive and nervous be how you roll?

Someone who scores highly on the openness to experience will “want to aim for an exciting, varied landscape with multiple different elements” said Clark, who blogs at OutsideModern.com. “Think nooks and crannies, spots in your yard or landscape that evoke different emotional states that you can nurture.” Those at the opposite end of the scale will “probably want to stick with a more uniform, slowly changing landscape. A large even yard space, a small variety of repeating plants, simple transitions, and uniformity in design and materials.”

Someone not very conscientious should stick with a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape plan. At the other end of the scale, their more-organized and more-efficient opposite can opt for exotic, nonnative plants requiring more care. “You will need to bring these indoors when the winter sets in,” Clark said, “but of course, you’re conscientious enough to always remember to do that!”

And so on, he said. Extroverts should put the focus on their front yards, so they can impress and meet neighbors; introverts can feel more comfy behind privacy fences and hedges. The secure and confident can go for bold colors; the nervous can opt for orderly flower beds hemmed by retaining walls

Bring That Personality Outdoors

New patio overlooking the lake
This Ohio homeowner values entertainment and nature. Photo courtesy Ohio Valley Group.

The homeowner wanted to extend his outdoor living area. We installed a paver patio adjacent to the deck with a wonderful corner, gas fireplace to allow for evening entertainment.  We also installed walls along the patio to create a cozy feeling.

— Kathleen Dangelo, co-owner, Ohio Valley Group

Now that you know your personality, start to bring it outdoors and brainstorm landscaping ideas. Whether you hire a landscape designer or do it yourself, find a way to translate your personality into specific design ideas.

“The first step is finding general inspiration, or in other words, looking for already-done projects that resonate with your idea of beauty, good design and landscape architecture,” said Stoddard. “It’s important to nail a certain aesthetic that you agree you’ll follow later on, or you risk getting lost in the mass of ideas.”

The source of landscape design ideas can be as easy as finding photos of what you like. Walk around the neighborhood with a camera. Collect them via sites such as Pinterest or Houzz.

“Collect photos of landscaping that you feel reflects your personality,” said Central Texas artist and designer Pablo Solomon. “Analyze what elements of those landscapes are important.”

 

This homeowner's design is built for evening entertainment. An extrovert would be happy with this design.
This homeowner’s design is built for evening entertainment. An extrovert would be happy with this design. Photo courtesy Ohio Valley Group.

The homeowner wanted to extend his outdoor living area. We installed a paver patio adjacent to the deck with a wonderful corner, gas fireplace to allow for evening entertainment.  We also installed walls along the patio to create a cozy feeling.

— Kathleen Dangelo

 

Personality, Schmersonality: Be Practical, Plan and Budget

“Make a plan,” Solomon said. “The more detailed the plan, the more likely you are to complete your project in a sensible sequence, obtain materials and labor on sale, and stay on budget.”

Ohio Valley Group, longtime Northeast Ohio landscaping design and maintenance company, offers an online tool it calls the “Vision Planner.” The online form asks potential clients questions about their favorite outdoor activities, entertainment habits, desired features and more. (The company uses it to guide its clients, but anyone can look at it to organize their landscaping thoughts for free.)

“Having our clients complete the Vision Planner helps them to focus on what parts of their outdoor designs are most important to them,” said co-owner Kathleen Dangelo. It encourages a more interactive planning experience between the client and the designer and ensures the final product is not only beautiful but functional as well.”

Holding Down Your ‘Personality’ Landscape’s Cost

Cost is another practical consideration. If your personality says 1,000 lilies but your budget says a dozen daffodils, you’ll have to find compromises. Solomon also suggests these cost-saving steps:

  • Do as much work yourself as you can. “Labor is usually the major cost in landscaping,” Solomon said.
  • Be sure to address drainage so your landscape design doesn’t create costly water damage.
  • Place trees and shrubs for shade to save energy.

One more piece of advice from Solomon: You can take “personality” a step too far. Your idea of curb appeal may be an eyesore to your neighbors.

“Do not overdo the ‘self-expression,’ ” he said. “You can have a landscape that follows good design principles and that you love without making the entire neighborhood mad. Self-expression does not mean you need to stick out like a sore thumb.”

Whatever your style is, enjoy it.

“Time spent outside in nature, surrounded by plants, is one of the best anxiolytics available,” Clark said, “and you don’t need a prescription!”

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