There are three basic elements to consider with design: color, texture, and form. With these elements, you can create unity and balance in your landscape design.
As one of the more obvious elements of design, color may seem like an easy thing to get right, but can actually be quite tricky. Color is great for conveying emotions but is often times overused in design. In landscaping, you’ll want to think in terms of dominant colors and accent colors. Your dominant color will of course be green. Choosing dynamic accent colors to contrast all the green will help bring your landscape to life. Be careful of placing your accent colors so that they compete with each other or become lost. Accent colors draw attention so make sure to place them where you would like attention to be focused.
Texture involves the tactile qualities of a landscape. There are fine-textured and coarse-textured plants. It’s a good idea to have a mix of both to compliment each other and add interest to the environment. Coarse-textured plants are characterized by their broad leaves while fine-textured plants usually have small leaflets, needles, or twigs. With hardscape material, stones are considered coarse, and gravel fine. Having a combination of both in your design can be aesthetically pleasing.
The concept of shape comes into play with the element of form and deals with growth patterns. A list of growth patterns might include upright, pendulous, pyramidal and spreading. Understanding these different types of growth patterns can help you make smart planting choices that will compliment your space.
Unity involves tying all of the elements of your design together. One way of creating unity in your design is to use repetition. If you use the same paving material in two different areas of your landscape or use the same accent flower in various places the space seems more connected and unified.
Along with creating unity, it’s good to also consider balance. Creating balance in your design can help your landscape feel more inviting and comfortable to be in. You can create a symmetrical balance or an asymmetrical balance in your design. Symmetry comes from planning even-numbered groupings in your design while asymmetry evolves from odd-numbered groupings or the pairing of dissimilar items.
Now that you’ve come up with your design ideas, you can begin to stylize them. Style involves how you arrange all the elements of design in your space. Broadly speaking, there are two categories of landscape style: formal and informal. You may find that different areas of your landscape benefit from different styles. For example, a formal front yard may seem like the best option while a more informal backyard space will work well.
A formal style design is characterized by a sense of order and most often includes a symmetrical arrangement of elements, the use of geometric shapes, and the pairing of objects in even numbers.
An informal style design creates a casual atmosphere through the use of unexpected elements. Some of the things you might find in an informal design are odd-numbered groupings, triangular arrangements, and irregular patterning.
For more in depth coverage of the elements of design and style, check out these links: