You’ll be surprised to learn that at one point, it was fashionable for upstate landowners to create their own ruined structures in their backyards. From crumbling ramparts to vestiges of castle walls, these “ruined” backyards have a storied history and are a landscaping trend noted as one of the more unorthodox but strangely appealing design trends to have been invented.
Read on as PJ Sullivan Construction, one of the top local design-build companies in New Jersey, shares the strange history and surprising appeal of ruined backyards.
A Brief History of Ruined Backyards
In the 18th century, an aristocrat by the name of Robert Rochfort was the center of a scandal. Originally boasting a promising political career as the first Earl of Belvedere, he fell into a decline after hearing rumors that his young wife, Mary, had been unfaithful to one of his brothers.
In a jealous rage, Rochfort locked his wife up in their family home and constructed what would become the basis of every “ruined” backyard: the Jealous Wall. From afar, it looks like the crumbling facade of a castle. In truth, Rochfort constructed this wall in its dilapidated state as a way to further hide away his wife.
Even during this scandal, many aristocrats were already seeing the unique appeal of false ruins and many were building their own or even outright ruining their own properties to create dramatic and picturesque effects.
False Ruins Today
False ruins and ruined backyards are a design fad of the 18th-century aristocracy. Though few would admit to actually creating ruins in their gardens, some elements of this archaic design trend still remain in modern landscaping techniques.
Of note is asymmetry; while earlier gardens sported orderly geometric shapes, the rise in ruined gardens paved the way for many homeowners to be more creative in the design and placement of their garden elements by utilizing asymmetric shapes and placements.
Stonework also saw its peak during this rather interesting era, such as stone-wrought facades and walls. Many siding companies today offer stone or stone-look siding for those looking to add some Old World charm to their gardens.
Finally, there’s the fact that the false ruins paved the way for the rise of overgrown gardens. It was common for these fake ruins to get overgrown by vines and plants. Many modern gardens still incorporate the overgrown design today, although with things like garden fences and patios instead of crumbling structures.
As your local garden and bathroom remodeling contractors, PJ Sullivan Construction can help you make your garden goals a reality. Call us today at (201) 614-2724. We are a design-build company in Wyckoff, NJ.