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7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 1 of 7

Doing landscape design isn't rocket science, thankfully, but there is a big difference between good design and bad design. The biggest difference between a landscape that looks contrived or "homemade", and one that looks natural or "professionally done" really boils down to a few key concepts. Over the next few months we'll take a look at each of the 8 basic principles of good landscape design, so that when we're done, you'll be able take any area you would like to create, design, or make over, and give it an effortless and natural feel. Keep in mind you don't always have to use every principle we talk about here for each project you undertake, but knowing them gives you guidelines to help you generate ideas, and spark creativity. Never feel landscape design is full of "rules" that you need to follow, because that just isn't true. Once you begin to learn what to look for in a good design however, you will see a lot of these principles being used quite frequently by some of the top landscape designers. Let's get started. UNITY - Principle 1 of 7 Unity should always be one of your main goals in any landscape design you undertake. Another way to apply this principle is to look at it as consistency and repetition. Repetition creates unity by repeating similar elements such as plants, plant groups, rocks, 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. We talked about this in the past article:Plant Perennials So They Look Natural Unity can be achieved by consistently using elements with similar characteristics in the design such as plants with similar height, size, texture, and color.

A good example of this would be when using landscaping rocks or accent boulders. A poorly done landscape design would be one that had one large white round boulder used with one large black square boulder. Unity wasn't achieved using this particular element - rocks. A better way to go about it (when you're at the rock quarry, or home improvement center), would be to pick out rocks that look similar to put either individually or in groups throughout your design. For ideas, go look at nature. Similar rocks are always in similar soil types and geographical areas. This is just one example but the principle applies to all other landscape materials and elements such as groups of plants, decor, trees, etc. A simple way to create unity in your landscape is by creating themes or using something you're interested in or have a passion for to repeat. For example: if you really like birds, you could create a theme using plants that attract birds as well as using statues, ornaments, and other decor that are related to birds or flight. The same could be done with butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, ladybugs, bees, colors, etc. Unity should always be applied through at least one element in your landscape and preferably more. Using elements to express a main idea, through a consistent style or a specific theme, is what creates harmony, but we'll get into that at another time!

7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 2 of 7

Last month we began our 7-part series on the Basic Principles of Landscape Design by discussing "Unity" and how to use it best when planning and organizing your design.

Keep in mind you don't always have to use every principle we talk about here for each project you undertake, but knowing them gives you guidelines to help you generate ideas, and spark creativity.

Never feel landscape design is full of "rules" that you need to follow, because that just isn't true. Once you begin to learn what to look for in a good design however, you will see a lot of these principles being used quite frequently by some of the top landscape designers. Let's continue with: SIMPLICITY - Principle 2 of 7 Simplicity is one of the principles that applies very heavily in both design and art. In fact photographers use simplicity to great advantage. They use it to help you focus on what they feel is the most important element in the picture and they purposely cut out any other clutter that might distract your eye or attention. The same can be done in landscape design, and the great thing is, it's one of the easiest and best guidelines you can follow as a beginner or do-it-yourselfer. Just keep your design simple to begin with, using few plants and design elements. Remember, you can always add more later when and where it's appropriate. Some Examples: 1. Use simplicity when planting. Pick two or three colors and repeat them throughout the garden or landscape. 2. Pick two or three plants that you really like and repeat them throughout the garden or landscape. 3. Keep decor to a minimum and within a specific theme and use very sparingly. 4. When using hardscapes such as boulders, practice using simplicity by placing only a few rocks in key locations so they make a bold statement, but don't look cluttered.

7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 3 of 7

The third part of our eight-part series on basic landscaping principles continues this month with: NATURAL TRANSITION - Principle 3 of 7 Natural transition is very easy to achieve, and is used to avoid abrupt or radical changes in your landscape design. This is another principle, that when used properly, can make your yard look professionally done because beginners tend to forget about overall continuity and can make the mistake of planting things in a haphazard manner. Natural transition is just that, making sure gradual changes take place to ensure a smooth, even look to your yard or garden. This can best be demonstrated by taking a look at plant height or color but it can also be applied to all elements in the landscape including: textures, foliage shape or size, and the size and shape of different elements such as structures, statuary, or rocks. The best way transition can be achieved is by the gradual, ascending or descending, arrangement of different elements with varying textures, forms, colors, or sizes. Some Examples: Example 1. One easy way to use natural transition would be by creating a "step effect" by using large trees to medium trees to shrubs to bedding plants. Proper plant selection in this case is necessary, but there are plenty of resources online, in bookstores, home improvement centers and nurseries to help you make correct choices. Example 2. Transition can be used to "create illusions" in the landscape. We showed a good example of this in a past story: Create The Illusion of Distance. By using warm to cool colors we showed how you can make your garden area seem larger than it really is. Example 3. Another good example of using natural transition is to use plants with larger

leaves that have a heavier texture in the back and as you work your way forward start using smaller-leaved plants with a smoother texture. By doing this you create a nice line because the heavier textured plants will frame and support the finer-textured plants which would otherwise be lost if they were mixed in with, or planted behind, heavier-looking plants.

7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 4 of 7

Can you believe that with this article, we are already half-way through our eight-part series on basic landscaping principles? This is very exciting because you are well on your way to being able to create professional and beautiful designs for your home, office, or garden. This month we continue with: BALANCE - Principle 4 of 7 Balance in design is really all about equality, and balancing certain features. There are two types of balance you can use: 1. Symmetrical Balance This is where all elements of the design are equally divided. Both sides could share all or part of the same shape, form, plant height, plant groupings, colors, bed shapes, theme, etc. A good example of this is when you take a piece of paper, splash paint on it, fold it in half, unfold it, and then you have symmetrical balance or a design that is somewhat of a mirror image or reflection. They used symmetrical balance a lot during the Renaissance period where entire gardens are mirror images from one side to the other. Just draw an imaginary line right down the middle of the garden, and each side will be a mirror image of the other.

Formal gardens are almost always symmetrical. Neat rows, mirrored images, geometric shapes. These things never appear that structured in nature. That's Ok though. Some people like to see things balanced, giving a feeling of stability and order. To create a symmetrical garden:

Use mirror image shrubs or big containers to mark the beginning or end of a path Align hedges with property lines, walls of a house, or other prominent, important feature Be ready for high maintenance. Formal landscapes look terrible if they lose their symmetry because of differences in plants' growing heights, the loss of a plant, uneven pruning, or a slight difference in a plant or element's color.

2. Asymmetrical Balance Asymmetrical may be better understood as actually being unbalanced, abstract, or free form while still creating unity and balance through the repetition of some elements. Asymmetry in a garden is a little more difficult to perceive, and that's the point, it's more natural and relaxed. A good example is in a traditional Japanese garden: the stones and trees, paths and shrubs all seem to be rather randomly arranged. That's not true however, because they have been very carefully placed to be visually balanced when seen from any position in the garden. Another good example of this would be where bed shapes or paths differ on both sides of the landscape dividing line while still sharing some of the same elements and plants. One side could be curved with a sense of flow while the other side is straight, direct, hard, and completely opposite. This type of contrast can be very interesting because the flowing lines are pleasing to the eye but the bold contrast of a curve combined with a straight line can be very unusual and eye-catching.

Asymmetrical balance is really fun because it isn't dependant on the shape of your garden which frees you up to do whatever you want. This is very powerful, because an asymmetrically balanced landscape design has the feeling of stability. The random arrangement of the elements makes them look very natural, as though they have been there for years Another good 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. With asymmetrical gardens, you will want to really make sure you maintain good unity through use of other elements such as rocks, plants, and decor to ground your design and keep it from becoming too hodge-podge.

7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 5 of 7

This month we continue with part 5 - having already gone over 4 of the 7 concepts that most professional landscape designers use. If you have missed any of the previous 4 articles, they were: Unity, Simplicity,Transition, and Balance. This month we continue with: COLOR - Principle 5 of 7 The best thing that color adds to any landscape is the dimension of real life and interest. Warm Colors Bright colors like reds, yellows and oranges seem to advance toward you and can actually make an object seem closer to you and are often used in the foreground of a landscape. In fact many painters use this technique. The next time you have an opportunity to see some paintings in a gallery or store window, notice how painters, by mimicking nature, use warm colors in the foreground and cooler colors in the background.

Cool Colors Using warm colors up front is done in both the landscape and art world because cool colors like greens, blues, and pastels seem to move away from you and can make an object seem farther from you. This is a great technique to use if you have a small area and want it to look larger - recede the colors. Neutral Colors The use of grays, blacks, and whites are considered neutral colors and can be used both as background colors, or used in conjunction with bright colors in the foreground. Neutral colors are very versatile, but use them sparingly. Other Uses Of Color Colors can also be used to direct your attention to a specific area of the garden. Example: Use masses of bright colors, alone or mixed with cool colors if you so wish, and this spot of color would naturally catch the eye. What's fun about color is that you can use your favorite palette for your own purposes. Example: If you really like white, there is nothing wrong with a garden that has all white flowers. It can be very dramatic and sophisticated when done properly. Keep in mind, that by adding any other color against that all white backdrop, it will instantly pop - such as a bright piece of art, a vase or container, or even one red flowering specimen. This is a good trick to use when you really want to be dramatic about something. Keep Thinking With the above examples, think about your favorite colors and how you could best work them in, using the previously discussed landscape principles of Unity, Simplicity, Transition, and Balance. All kinds of ideas should now to be starting to come to you and this is where the fun really starts!

7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 6 of 7

This month we continue with part 6 - having already gone over 5 of the 7 concepts that most professional landscape designers use. If you have missed any of the previous 5 articles, they were: Unity, Simplicity,Transition, Balance, and Color. This month we continue with: LINE - Principle 6 of 7 Line is one of the more structural principles of landscape design and it is one of the easiest to work with. Line is generally related to the way your eye moves and flows around the landscape such as how garden beds, walkways, and entryways move and flow with one another. It's often reflected in the way paths and beds are arranged and fit together, but a more subtle line can also be created by changes in plant heights or the shapes and directions of their branches. Straight Lines Lines in any landscape that are straight, or perpendicular, give a more forceful, direct, and structured feel to the area. They direct the eye right to the next focus. They say plainly what you want, like the straight line of a stairway, it tells you, "Go this way." Wavy Lines Wavy or curved lines have a more natural, gentle, flowing effect. A curved line tends to be more smooth and free flowing and create a more relaxed, natural movement for a more relaxed landscape effect. It tends to "invite" you through the garden instead of "directing" you. Think About It When laying out your landscape think how you want the line to move people through the environment you are creating. Do you want more structure, or do you want a more relaxed experience for yourself and visitors? That's what so fun about design, these choices are all up to you! 7 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 7 of 7

This month we continue with part 7 - having already gone over 6 of the 7 concepts that most professional landscape designers use. If you have missed any of the previous 5 articles, they were: Unity, Simplicity,Transition, Balance, Color, and Line. This month we continue with: Proportion - Principle 7 of 7 Proportion, also sometimes referred to as scale, is very simple, but one of themost misused and fundamental mistakes any landscape designer can make. Even some of the most seasoned professionals don't use proportion properly because it is easy to overlook. Proportion, quite simply refers to the size of elements in relation to each other. Of all the principles of landscape design, this one is so obvious but still requires thought and planning to be used correctly. Most of the time different elements in a landscape design can be intentionally planned to meet the proper proportions. Easy Mistakes To Avoid Example 1: if you are creating a small courtyard garden, you would know that a ten foot (1.25 m) statue placed in the center would be out of proportion with the rest of the design. Example 2: a small water fountain placed in a very large open area would get lost in the open space. These mistakes are easily avoided Mistakes Harder To Avoid: Example 1: Not planning for how large a tree, shrub, or ground cover may grow upon maturity. This has to be the number one mistake in the use of proportion. Not planning enough space around elements. So many people plant a redwood tree in a small side yard because in a small container it's so cute. But they fail to plan for the 100 foot (33 m) tree that is going to quickly grow up under the eave of the house and take over - it's too large a tree for the space!

Example 2: Not planning for how small dwarf varieties will stay, or using containers that are too small for the area. So you end up with a hodge-podge effect with lots of small plants and pots that are trying to fill a very large space and it ends up looking cluttered, too busy, and messy. Overall Effect Proportion is relative and elements can be scaled to fit by creating different rooms in the garden. The goal is to create a pleasing relationship among the three dimensions of length, width, and depth or height. Do that, and you'll have a winning combination no matter how large or small a yard you are designing.

Landscaping Design - The Primary Principles

By J Voight Principles refer to standards or prescriptions for working with or arranging various elements to produce the intended landscape design. Good landscape design follows a combination of seven principles: unity, balance, proportion, focalization or emphasis, sequence or transition, rhythm, and repetition.

Photo / pic / image of a sample landscape design.

Unity. Unity refers to the use of elements to create harmony and consistency with the main theme or idea of the landscape design. Unity gives the landscape design a sense of oneness and interconnection. Unity in landscape design can be achieved by using plants, trees, or material

that have repeating lines or shapes, a common colour, or similar texture. However, too much unity in landscape design can be boring. Therefore, it is important to introduce some variety or contrast into the landscape design. Balance. Balance gives the landscape design a sense of equilibrium and symmetry in visual attraction. There are three ways by which balance may be presented in landscape design. Symmetrical or formal balance is achieved when the mass, weight, or number of objects both sides of the landscape design are exactly the same. Asymmetrical or informal balance in landscape design suggests a feeling of balance on both sides, even though the sides do not look the same. Asymmetrical balance in visual attraction may be achieved by using opposing compositions on either side of the central axis. Landscape design with radial balance has a center point. A sunflower, a wheel, and the cross-section of an orange all have radial balance. Proportion. Proportion describes the size relationship between parts of the landscape design or between a part of the design and the design as a whole. A large fountain would cramp a small backyard garden, but would complement a sprawling public courtyard. Additionally, proportion in landscape design must take into consideration how people interact with various components of the landscape through normal human activities. Focalization. Focalization or Emphasis directs visual attention to a point of interest or prominent part of the landscape design. This could be a hanging earth-forms sculpture, a stone-finished Corinthian garden fountain, a mass of architectural herbaceous perennials, or an elegant spruce. Emphasis in landscape design may be achieved by using a contrasting color, a different or unusual line, or a plain background space. Paths, walkways, and strategically placed plants lead the eye to the focal point of the landscape without distracting from the overall landscape design. Sequence. Sequence or Transition creates visual movement in landscape design. Sequence in landscape design is achieved by the gradual progression of texture, form, size, or color. Examples of landscape design elements in transition are plants that go from coarse to medium to fine textures or softscapes that go from large trees to medium trees to shrubs to bedding plants. Transition in landscape design may also be used to create depth or distance or to emphasize a focal point.

Rhythm. Rhythm creates a feeling of motion which leads the eye from one part of the landscape design to another part. Repeating a color scheme, shape, texture, line or form evokes rhythm in landscape design. Proper expression of rhythm eliminates confusion and monotony from landscape design. Repetition. And finally, repetition in landscape design is the repeated use of objects or elements with identical shape, form, texture, or color. Although it gives the landscape design a unified planting scheme, repetition runs the risk of being overdone. However, when correctly implemented, repetition can lead to rhythm, focalization or emphasis in landscape design. J Voight is an avid landscaping design enthusiast who provides excellent tips, techniques, and advice to anyone wanting information on landscape design. You'll find all of this outstanding landscaping news at

SOURCE: ndrame_Basic%20Principles%20of%20Landscape%20Design.pdf