7 Key Principles Lead to Great Landscape Designs
It takes skill, knowledge and considerable experience to create a design that blends soft elements such as trees, plants and turf with hard elements like paving to create a pleasing, effective and functional landscape. The best landscape designs demonstrate seven key principles:
Three time-tested strategies help create unity in the landscape: repetition, consistency and a primary theme or style. Color repetition occurs in many ways, such as using a variety of plants and evergreens that feature blue-green foliage. Consistency occurs when you use plants of a similar size or shape or the same type of stone for walkways and raised beds. Adopt a few select elements to hint at a theme.
Simplified landscapes are soothing to look at and easier to maintain. Many simplified designs feature a dominant focal point and everything else plays a supporting role. Colors, plants and hardscape elements flow together for a streamlined effect, and accents and fussy elements are kept to a minimum to avoid visual distractors.
There are two approaches to balance. Symmetrical designs feature elements are similar in size, shape, volume, color and scale. A good example would be two matched planting beds flanking a center walkway. Asymmetrical designs are more complex and may feature a greater range of elements. A simple example would be a curved walkway flanked by a large planting bed on one side and a smaller one on the other.
The best landscape designs incorporate specific elements that serve to attract and focus your attention. This may be a defined focal point, such as a stately evergreen underplanted with bright flowers, or it might be the repeated use of specific colors in separate areas to draw your eye to different parts of the landscape.
There are basically two approaches to landscape geometry. One emphasizes rounded, gentle curves and sinuous lines that flow through and around the landscape. The other emphasizes a structural approach with straight lines, crisp angles and defined squares and rectangles.
There are three basic strategies. One emphasizes a more formal, high-contrast approach with clearly defined differences in plant heights and equally clear demarcations in material types. Another adopts a more graduated approach, using slight variations in plant height and texture or subtle changes in material to add interest. The third approach represents a blend of high-contrast and graduated elements.
The central issue here is the relative proportion or scale of different elements in the landscape. An expansive landscape can accommodate trees, plants and hardscape elements on a grand scale. A compact yard is often at its best when the trees, plants and hardscape elements are reduced in size and proportionate to the space available.
Understanding these key principles will help you evaluate your landscape, identify areas for improvement and more effectively discuss your ideas with your landscaper.