The Q&A Archives: Landscape Design Ideas

Question: What do I do with an area 12'x40' if I want to landscape in contempary style, possible a fountain or pond.

Answer: There are eight basic gardening principles that a gardener should follow to achieve a garden that is pleasing to the senses and provides a pleasant outdoor living space. These include balance, repetition, proportion, transition, simplicity, unity, rhythm, and focalization. Elements of art to keep in mind also are color, line, form, texture, and scale. These elements are used as tools to adjust the design principles.

There are two types of balance used in garden design. These are known as formal or symmetrical arrangements and informal or asymmetrical arrangements. With symmetrical arrangements, imagine a dividing line going through the center of the garden and the plantings and arrangements on each side are identical. With the asymmetrical or informal arrangements, the plantings or arrangements are not alike on either side.
Repetition is when plants with similar shapes, color, scent, and/or texture are repeated throughout the arrangement to achieve unity in the design. The repetition should not be overdone which could cause the arrangement to appear busy or crowded.

Proportion refers to using elements in the garden that agree in size. No oversized fountains or trees in a small garden or tiny trees next to a large building.
Transition is the gradual change of elements in the garden with no sudden changes in the height, color, texture, or theme.

Simplicity refers to keeping the design simple. Having a simple theme that does not have too many elements or colors will help to achieve a landscape design that is pleasing to the eye without being overdone or busy.

Using a consistent style to express a main idea is called unity. Mass planting and repetition can help to achieve unity in a landscape design. Repeating a particular color or theme throughout the landscape will help to achieve unity.

Rhythm is a sense of motion created by the elements in a landscape design which lead the viewer?s eye through the garden area and beyond the design. This is achieved through the use of color schemes, line, and form which can be repeated to attain rhythm in the design.

Focalization is when a feature is used as a focal point to draw the visitor?s attention or to direct them through the garden.

When planning a garden, the gardener doesn?t have to use all eight of these principles but being aware of them will help to better achieve the kind of outdoor space that is desired.

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