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The Basic Principles Of Landscape Design

Whether you plan on "borrowing ideas" or plan on creating your own landscaping design, you should have at the very least a basic understanding of the principles of landscape design. This doesn't mean that you have to apply every principle to every part of your plan. But just having an understanding of these principles will help you generate ideas and increase your creativity. Great landscaping lies in the eyes of the its creator. So, while the principles of landscape design are great guidelines to follow, don't feel like they're the "have to rules" of landscaping. Abstract and creativity are allowed.

Unity should be one of your main goals in your design. It may be better understood and applied as consistency and repetition. Repetition creates unity by repeating alike elements like plants, plant groups, or decor throughout the landscape. Consistency creates unity in the sense that some or all of the different elements of the landscape fit together to create a whole. Unity can be achieved by the consistency of character of elements in the design.

By character, I mean the height, size, texture, color schemes, etc. of different elements. A good example would be in the use of accent boulders. If you've ever seen a landscape design that had one large white round boulder here and another large red square granite boulder there and so on, then you've seen that unity wasn't created by this specific element. This is just one example but the principle applies to all other elements such as groups of plants and materials. A simple way to create unity in your landscape is by creating themes. And one of the simplest ways to create themes is by using a little garden decor or garden statues. Creating a theme garden is easier when it's related to something you're interested in or have a passion for. If you're into butterflies for instance, you could create a theme using plants that attract butterflies as well as using statues, ornaments, and other decor that are related to butterflies. Unity should be expressed through at least one element in your landscape and preferably more.

Using elements to express a main idea through consistent style and a specific theme is what creates harmony. Simplicity is actually one of the principles in design and art. Itís one of the best guidelines you can follow as a beginner or do it yourselfer. Just keep things simple to begin with. You can do more later. Simplicity in planting, for instance, would be to pick two or three colors and repeat them throughout the garden or landscape. Keeping decor to a minimum and within a specific theme as well as keeping hardscapes such as boulders consistent is also practicing simplicity. Balance in design is just as the word implies. Equality. There are basically two types of balance in landscape design.

Symmetrical and Asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is where there are more or less equally spaced matching elements of the garden design. With a garden equally divided, both sides could share the same shape, form, plant height, plant groupings, colors, bed shapes, theme, etc. You may remember creating something like this when you were a kid in art class at school. Where you take a piece of paper, splash paint on it, fold it in half, unfold it, and then it magically creates an interesting symmetrical design. So symmetrical balance or design is somewhat of a mirror image or reflection. Asymmetrical balance on the other hand is one of the principles of landscape design that's a little more complex. While textures, forms, colors, etc. may remain constant to create some unity, shapes and hardscapes may be more random. This form of balance often has separate or different themes with each having an equal but different type of attraction.

A good example of this would be where bed shapes or paths differ on both sides of the dividing line. One side could be curvy with a sense of flow while the other side is straight, direct, and hard. This can also create a neat contrast. Flowing lines are pleasing to the eye but the bold contrast of a curve with a straight line can be very interesting. Asymmetrical balance isn't necessarily limited to just the shape of your garden. An example might be where one side of the garden is mostly large shade trees while the other side is predominately a lower growing flower garden or even a mix of both examples. This is only limited to your imagination. Contrast and harmony can also be achieved using plants. Fine foliage verses coarser foliage, round leaves verses spiked leaves as well as color compliments and contrasts.


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