What are the “dead giveaways” in landscaping outside a McMansion?

One forum generates ideas about what kind of landscaping clearly marks a McMansion:

Most mcmansions in this area (mind you that’s only upper-middle class, not very upper class) have one tortured looking weeping nootka falsecypress, one fat albert spruce, a weeping mulberry and/or a callery pear…

MULCH. Large expanses of mulch dotted with discrete plants. Screams modern, if not commercial…

I think black mulch is the 2014 version of red mulch. Any dyed mulch screems Mc mansion to me. Undyed mulch used for function is ok but any munch used as decoration looks unnaturally trendy to me…

Faux “outcroppings” of rock are another big millennial landscaping conceit to avoid. I am not aware of many spontaneous outcroppings of rocks and plants with a waterfall springing out of it in the middle of Indiana. The ones that are there are probably planted. Just say “no”…

Too many hydrangeas. But ultimately, I think the “McMansion” look is one that is too manicured, too perfect and planned out…

Basically, 98% of American McMansions (or even what pass for mansions these days) are ridiculously over landscaped, at least compared to the European manors and stately homes they are claiming as inspiration. Just as the building architecture itself is often a bad, ham-fisted copy, the “design on the land” descends into contrivance and excess. I’ve heard of more than one case now of a 10-20 year old planting of “foundation shrubs” being ripped out because it had become unmaintainable and was overpowering the facade of the house. I suspect we are at a tipping point where there is soon going to be an article about it and partial backlash.


Some interesting ideas throughout this long thread. McMansions tend to try to impress observers with their features – whether that includes turrets, big entrances and foyers, multi-gabled roofs, stonework (or fake stones), numerous windows, mish-mash of weighty older styles – but the landscaping may not get as much attention. One factor common across these comments is that McMansion landscaping doesn’t account much for long-term appearance and care of plants. In other words, the landscaping is also meant to impress or get the job done but may not serve the home and the owners well 10-20 years down the road. If this is true, then the McMansions are what critics suggest: homes with limited staying power once you get past the facade (or landscaping).

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