Although we usually see five identifiable design styles used by landscape architects and landscape designers I like to think there is a sixth style. I call it ‘Random’.
Some might say the style is natural, but I think Nature has the market cornered on that so I like to call it random…..not quite natural but certainly not structured.
Random design is applied primarily in native plantings such as prairie restorations or reforestations where large quantities of plant materials may be introduced, re-introduced or added as supplements to the existing flora.
About ten years ago I did a dune restoration in Porter Beach, Indiana. I worked primarily in the foredune and the wooded dune. Native plantings were primarily keystone species such as little blue stem and marram grass, which dominated the foredune. An assortment of oaks, wild cherry and your basic cottonwood were dominant in the wooded dune.
We naturalized over 22,000 marram grass plugs and also added about 200 little blue stem to the existing fore-dune. Twenty pounds of wild geranium, false sunflower and native lupine seed were added to the foredune and the edge of the wooded dune. We also planted a few witch hazel and serviceberry on the edge of the wooded dune.
Except for placing those witch hazel and serviceberry, all the remainder of the seed and plugs were randomly scattered just as the existing vegetation had developed. Again, not quite natural, but certainly not structured.
While a random style is not an identified academic landscape design it surely is a style in current practice by designers and landscape architects who are doing restorations and native plantings.