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Take Backyard Inspiration From These 4 Historic Homes

Published Date: Dec 21, 2016

When an artist has a creative block, it is often recommended that they stop trying to make something and instead take a look at other people's work. While browsing sculptures, reading books, watching plays, or even relaxing poolside, inspiration will likely strike and send them into a creative frenzy.

If you're trying to come up with some new landscaping ideas for your yard, consider following this same idea. Instead of staring blankly at the patchy grass and boring space, seek inspiration elsewhere. Here are four historic homes with stunning backyards that just might give you some ideas:

1. California: Hearst Castle This impressive California estate was owned by the Hearst Family, a publishing magnate, and the castle that still stands today was built in 1947 by family member Julia Morgan. The inside of the home, with 165 rooms, is just as luxurious as the rest of the property. It features 127 acres of pools, walkways, fountains, terraces and gardens.

Visitors to the Hearst Castle gardens find their noses bombarded with the scents of rhododendrons, magenta bougainvillea and poppies, the California state flower. There is even an area of this huge space where Hollywood stars from the Golden Age between the early 1920s and the late 1950s would rendezvous in a shady corner away from prying eyes.

Take inspiration from the gardens by planting California native species in your yard. Add a water feature like a fountain to provide soothing sounds. Natural stone water features are a perfect way to break up your yard into different areas and create nooks of privacy.

2. Colorado: Hudson Gardens King and Evelyn Hudson bought five acres of land in Littleton Colorado and used it to house both gardens and their home and restaurant, The Country Kitchen. Before their deaths in the 1980s, the couple deemed their land as an asset to the community and created a foundation to keep it blooming for generations to come.

Today, The Hudson Foundation manages The Hudson Gardens and Event Center, which has grown to include 30 acres of ponds, paths, shrubs and trees. There is a Victorian water lily pond, an herb garden and display beds of dahlias, irises and more. 

The various areas of the gardens are split up with lush green grass. Emulate this beautiful feature in your backyard by installing synthetic turf. This amazing material looks like real grass but will stay green all year-round, giving your outdoor space a liveliness that is much appreciated - especially in the wintertime!


3. Washington: Thornewood Castle This gothic/English Tudor mansion was built at the request of Chester Thorne, who took part in founding the Port of Tacoma. The original home was 400-years-old and built in England, but in 1907, Thorne had it taken apart one brick at a time and sent from England to its resting place in Lakewood, Washington. 

The house and gardens have beautiful views of American Lake, and with only four acres, it's truly impressive that the outdoor space has been named one of the top five gardens in America during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, who created Central Park, this walled garden features a reflecting pool and many beautiful statues. 

Emulate this stunning garden in your backyard by creating different patches of flowers around a central focal point like a statue. Choose stunning likenesses to gods and goddesses, funny gnomes or even sports figurines. Use outdoor lighting to make the statues stand out. Also consider adding freestanding or retaining walls to section your yard or encapsulate your patio, much like Thornewood Castle uses among landscaping features.

lit walkway

Retaining walls can make elements of your outdoor space standout.

4. Oregon: Pittock Mansion This Portland estate, built in 1914, includes a greenhouse, three-car garage and a servant's residence on 46 acres of land. 

Instead of cultivating gardens, much of the area surrounding the Pittock Mansion is wild. There are trails for naturalists, artists and photographers to walk and enjoy the natural beauty of the gorgeous foliage and pine trees. The mansion is situated nearly 1,000 feet above downtown, so there are stunning views to be had.

If you want to take advantage of the native plants and trees in your yard, why not add a custom patio? This will allow you to sit and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings without having to do a lot of maintenance. You may also consider adding pavers to create walkways through the landscape.


Surround your patio with stunning wildflowers and natural foliage.

For more inspiration, consider taking historical home tours in your area. There, you can marvel at architecture and landscapes while searching for ideas to use in your own backyard.

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