Whether you plan to “borrow ideas” or plan on creating your own click here design, you should have at the very least a basic understanding of the principles of landscape design.
Don’t feel that you have to apply every principle to every part of your plan. Just having an understanding of these principles can 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 created by the consistency of character of elements in the design. By character, I mean the size, height, texture, color schemes, etc. of different elements.
A good example would be in the use of accent rocks and boulders. If you’ve ever seen a landscape design that had several different colors and sizes of boulders, then you’ve seen that unity wasn’t created by this particular 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 theme gardens. Creating a theme garden is easier when it’s related to something you’re interested in or have a passion for.
If you’re interested in 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. It’s 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. A sense of 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, areas, and shapes of the garden design. With a garden equally divided, both sides could share all or part of 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.
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.
A 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. Again, unity and balance will be created through other elements.
Contrast can be very interesting and this type of form can create a neat contrast. Flowing lines are pleasing to the eye but the bold contrast of a curve combined with a straight line can be very interesting.