Three Principles of Landscape Design

Since we started offering the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon in the summer of 2013, I’ve heard one of the most intimidating factors of completing these beds is choosing the plant’s placement within the bed.

The truth is,landscape design is very much like art — it’s personal and up to interpretation. Follow these basic principles to guide you as you design a garden bed that’s attractive and works in harmony with its surroundings.

Just remember these three characteristics:

Simplicity – it’s common to see gardens displaying a wide variety of plants with varying sizes and textures. This often creates confusion and a rather chaotic bigger picture. Simplify the look of your landscape by choosing plants that have a logical relationship to each other, such as a group of five sages with differing bloom colors but similar heights and leaf textures, instead of a sage and four other plants that have little in common.

Scale – You may have always dreamed of having Italian Cypress trees in the front yard of your new home. Those super tall, conical beauties really do make a statement, but make sure it’s a positive one. Placing them on either side of the front door of your one story abode will create a look that overwhelms the overall structure of your home and creates a distraction rather than a cohesive to-scale appearance.

Focal Points – Because the human eye desires to see the dominant and subordinate, creating focal points in the landscape is elemental. Size, color and texture can all be utilized to accent points of focus throughout the landscape. A large oak tree, a bright red hibiscus or the coarse-textured cactus can be used to highlight an area such as a building entrance or sitting area. Since the eye is drawn to these areas, it is important to create the right focal mix because too many focal points or none at all leaves the viewer disappointed or even confused.

Keep an eye out for future musings on landscape design principles and make a point to seek out other online resources. The more comfortable you get with these ideas, the more successful your design attempts will be!

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Erin Conant
Erin Conant has a passion for all things related to plants. Our former SAWS conservation consultant is now at home with her family passionately establishing their own urban farm and spreading the word of water conservation.
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