5 Basic Principles of Garden Design

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Principles of Garden Design

When it comes down to it, you can design your garden however your heart desires; there are no laws and no one will come checking. But, there are some basic principles that can help lay the foundation for creating an aesthetically pleasing space that reflects your personal style and preferences. To the first-time gardener, trying to design your garden may seem a bit overwhelming, but by taking these core elements into consideration, you will have a strong starting point from which your creativity can flow.

Overall Style

The first order of business is deciding on an overall style—what type of garden do you want? Do you want a formal or informal space? Once you have this figured out, you have a strong foundation for your design. Factors to take into account include the overall space, the style of your home and your personality. While you do not need to strictly adhere to your vision with every single element of your garden, you do want to avoid a mish-mash of unrelated elements.

Scale

Scale is important for creating a visually pleasing garden—if the different elements of your garden are drastically out of proportion with one another, you will have a disjointed look. Most gardeners tend to throw off scale by going too small—beds and paths that are too narrow for example. If you are not sure, always err on the side of bigger, bolder and more generous.

Focal Points

Focal points are important in garden design; you do not want someone to take in your garden in one sweeping look. You want to create specific points that catch the eye and then lead to a closer exploration of the surrounding area. Well-placed focal points guide the eyes and allow the viewer to slowly discover the different elements of the garden. Good examples of focal points include a water feature, particularly large plants or statues and figurines, such as those found in a fairy garden.

Texture

When choosing the plants for your garden, it is important to choose a variety of textures; if all your plants generally look the same, your garden can just appear as one giant mass of plant s. By combining plants with different textures—soft leaves versus coarse leaves, glossy leaves versus suede-like leaves, fat leaves versus needle-like leaves—next to each other, you create a sense of contrast that highlights the individual attributes of each plant and everything stands out a bit more.

Color

When it comes to combining color, the possibilities are endless, but there are some general principles that can guide you in choosing your palette. You can get technical and consult the color wheel to find visually appealing combinations or rely more on your own eyes and emotions, or perhaps a combination of both. Certain colors are more vibrant and jump out at you, such as orange, red and yellow, while other colors are more subdued, such as green, blue and violet. Generally, you want to have a combination of the two to create balance.