Plants, if you let them, function in garden design like a small business owner wearing many hats. PLANTS CAN ACT AS:
– Architectural structures
– Emphasize the three dimensional quality of your garden
– Give linear perspective
– Divide your garden into areas
and that’s just the beginning…
That said, whenever you need to do some designing, whether it be a container arrangement, or dreaming up ideas and gardening plans, these basic principles of design will come in handy.
1. Framing for Emphasis
- About Framing for Emphasis – This could be by using a pair of plants, as in the photo above; or using two of the same shrubs to frame your front door, one on each side. You can also use this design principle to clarify a point of access or circulation in the garden; framing can send a message to your friends and family, “Hey, this way back into the house.” Though it can be symmetrical, it doesn’t have to be.
2. Scale and Proportion
- About Scale and Proportion – In design this is the relationship of the parts to a composition. So for example, your house, property, plants and all of the elements that make up your garden should work together in unity. A grove of giant redwood trees in a small garden would be out of scale and proportion; whereas a scaled down idea, like considering dwarf tree varieties, espalier options, vertical garden options – which match the space better, is undoubtedly more fitting and will make a more pleasing design.
3. Rhythm and Repetition
- About Rhythm and Repetition – Create unity with simple repeated pattern. This could be as simple as using a single pair of similar plants. But to take this further, you can either repeat the same plant in a group, or, for a different effect, scatter the same plant at intervals around the garden. Another interesting idea, especially in a small planting design, is to repeat an association of two or three plants, in various locations in the garden.
4. Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Balance
- About Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Balance – Formal garden design uses symmetrical balance. This is where both sides are even or visually identical. For example, a row of ornamental grasses on each side of a path. Asymmetrical balance, very common in Japanese garden design, balances both sides, but by the use of different materials, numbers, sizes, colors, lines, forms and textures.
- About Dominance – This is the use of one outstanding unit to which all else is subordinated. It can also be called an accent.
- About Contrast – Contrast is the unification of opposing elements to emphasize a dominant feature. For example, the straight lines of a hedge to contrast with billowing foliage or the upright form, say bamboo, next to a horizontal form of juniper.