Landscape Ideas for a Dutch Colonial House

The Dutch colonial's main architectural features are a gambrel roof, gable-end brick chimneys and dormer windows. Most commonly constructed from the 1890s to the 1930s, a Dutch colonial is also called a New England barn-style house. The design itself isn't Dutch-inspired, but the name possibly arose because of this home style's wide appearance in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Landscaping around the house should highlight the signature architectural features, bring seasonal colour as well as create an inviting entrance.

Historical Plantings

While not necessary to match the landscape design with the home's construction period, it is one way to look for inspiration for the garden. Many Dutch Colonial homes in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were built toward the end of the Victorian era and in the first half of the 20th century. The number of ornamental plants available were diverse but much more basic than modern standards. During that period in America, rhododendron, boxwood, holly, forsythia, hydrangea, spiraea, rose, peony, English ivy and spurge/pachysandra often covered yards around Dutch colonial structures. Evergreen shrubs surrounded the base of the home.

Fenced Cottage Garden

While the use of a white picket fence is most often associated with Cape Cod houses, creating a fenced front yard with sidewalk and gate entrances to the front door can look charming. The white picket fence looks particularly good if the Dutch colonial facade is a contrasting colour, such as red, blue or another dark colour. The home's white trim and white shutters make the white pickets stand out and unify the property. Use any blend of shrubs, small trees and perennial flowers to create a lush cottage garden.

Using Trees

A Dutch colonial home may be geometrically balanced with a door in the centre or asymmetrical. Typically, the house is 1-1/2 stories in scale because of the dormers jetting out of the roof on the second floor. Trees bring shade and soften the harsh lines of a building. Plant trees around a Dutch colonial home so they do not block the view of the architecture or hide the entrance. Only plant small trees, those that grow no taller than 25 feet as larger trees will overpower and hide the home. Large shrubs or small trees that reach 10 feet in maturity make excellent accent plants for the home's foundation corner areas.

Bed Shapes

Formal garden designs -- those with a central axis and similar, mirrored plantings on both sides -- only work well with Dutch colonial homes with a central door. Formal plantings accentuate the central door and walkway, with balance and repetition of plants as you approach the house entrance. Flower beds should be rectangular with straight edges. By contrast, homes with an off-to-the-side main door look better with an informal garden design. A gently curved path transecting a small central patch of lawn leads you to the door. Large curving beds around the central lawn hold mounding shrubs and ground cover with occasional accents of a small flowering tree or clump of perennials.

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About the Author

Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. He has worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Wright holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.