So Cal MCM Landscape Styles with Autumn Color

Landscaping has always been an integral component of Mid-Century Modern design. Builders didn’t just add in some sod and a tree. They often considered the environment and seasonal weather conditions in their landscaping design. The Southern California climate may not provide for much in the way of autumn color but it does allow us to plant just about anything we want. However, with the ongoing drought our landscaping needs to be highly water-conscious. We’ve covered some popular So Cal MCM landscape styles below along with some tips for incorporating autumn color.

Xeriscape front yard of Eichler MCM landscape

Xeric Landscape or Xeriscaping

Most commonly seen in arid climates, xeriscaping is the go-to for a water-sipping yard. The style involves the use of drought-tolerant plants spaced out across decorative rocks and sands as ground cover.

Xeriscaping in backyard of MCM landscape Home

The best part of xeriscaping is that it is easy to keep the beautiful architecture of the home in view. The most commonly used drought-tolerant plants are short of stature, even when mature, apart from large agaves and some trees. Another great benefit is that xeric yards are typically very low maintenance.

Sticks on Fire succulent plant

Many succulents will turn hints of red during the height of summer and stay red through autumn and reverting back to pale greens during winter and spring. The tips of Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli) turn yellow in summer and red in winter, giving you a beautiful fall display.


The inclination to go tropical with your landscaping in Southern California is perfectly natural. In fact, a tropical MCM landscape can often accentuate the iconic architectural lines of the building.

Tropical Landscaping Style Eichler MCM landscape

Well-positioned palm trees not just in the front but also in the backyard add depth of interest and continuity. Plus, you get the opportunity to sip a cocktail under your very own private Palm Tree. Using a drip system will help with reducing water usage. Additionally, removing some of your lawn and replacing with decorative lava rock will boost the tropical look while also helping to conserve water.

Croton and Coleus container garden

Though it might seem unlikely, tropical plants can definitely bring fall color to your landscape. Although they don’t change color with the season, tropical plants with red, orange and yellow hues can be arranged together to celebrate the season. Consider planting Coleus or Croton in containers either together or separately and bring them together in a beautiful autumn display. Feel free to garnish with a pumpkin or two and your fall MCM landscape is all set.


No one will argue that Tuscan style developments are a bit overdone these days, but the one thing you can’t argue with is that a Tuscan landscape looks beautiful. The style also makes sense for the California climate, as the Tuscan landscaping style incorporates many drought-tolerant plants.

Eichler with Tuscan Landscape and Fall Color

Olive trees and ornamental grasses work beautifully in a Tuscan-style landscape. Just be sure to avoid invasive fountain grasses. Go with native plants whenever possible.

Red Switchgrass showing off

For good fall coloring, add in some ornamental grasses that change color with the seasons. Red Switchgrass (Panicum Virgatum) maintains mostly green leaves during the warmer months until fall when it bursts into red foliage through winter. Also, it doesn’t hurt to drop in a few white pumpkins for an autumn-harvest theme.


MCM homes can also incorporate a lush garden landscape with great results. The key here is to densely pack in deep-green plants. Even with a much denser, greener look, homeowners can still cut back on watering with a good drip system. Look into water-sipping ground cover to replace a traditional turf lawn. Broad-leaved green succulents can be interspersed for a drought-tolerant boost while still looking lush.

Lush Drought Tolerant Landscaping MCM Home

Ferns will also help achieve a lush feel and are more drought-tolerant than you might think. One good example is the Wood Fern (Dryopteris), which can be kept quite happy with a few minutes watering every night with a drip line.

Lush Landscape with Oaks MCM Home Landscaping

Native California Oak trees provide wonderful shade and are very hardy plants. Oaks show fall colors in beautiful displays and don’t they look lovely with fairy lights strewn throughout the branches?

Liquidambar Tree for beautiful Fall Color

For another beautiful transition during autumn, consider planting a tree that changes color with the seasons, such as a Liquidambar. Foliage stays green during the warmer months and then changes to beautiful golden oranges and reds, even in Southern California.


Ready to get your hands dirty in an MCM landscape but still need to find the Modern home of your dreams? We’re here for you! Get in touch today to start your search with our expert realty team.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.