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The Basic Principles of Landscape Design

Learning about the basic principles of landscape design allows you to better define your landscape project. This is important when it comes to finding the right team to help you design, install, and maintain it. There are four main principles to consider.


Size may seem like the most obvious principle of landscape design but it still requires thoughtful planning both in terms of absolute and relative proportion. Absolute proportion refers to the scale or size of an object, while relative proportion refers to the scale or size of an object in relation to other objects. When it comes to landscape design, proportion is often defined in relation to the human scale. Other relevant scales include the size of the house and yard.


This principle revolves around a sense of equality. There are two types of balance in design: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance exists when either side of the landscape is designed identically, while asymmetrical balance exists when landscapes use different objects with similar visual weight. As long as landscapes create equal visual attraction around a real or imaginary central axis, balance can be achieved.


This principle refers to the art of creating patterns or sequences without under or over using elements of design. This includes the repetition of line, form, color, or texture, or a combination of these. For example, alternation will include a minor change in sequences, inversion will include opposite characteristics, and gradation will include slightly changing characteristics. The right type and amount of repetition differs for each project and should be carefully planned. Too much repetition can create monotony, while too little can create confusion.


Last but not least, this principle relies on consistency to build cohesion among different elements of a landscape creating a common unit. Sometimes referred to as harmony, this principle is about all the elements fitting together in a way that communicates a single theme. It follows that the best way to create unity is to choose a theme or style when designing a landscape. For example, Mediterranean, Zen, or tropical gardens.

You now have a basic understanding of the principles of design. Click here to understand the elements.

This blog was written for the Universal Group and originally appeared on their blog.