From countless human-made objects to nature itself, different designs are everywhere. Though we instinctively know an aesthetic design when we see one, describing why such an object or scenery is visually appealing gets elusive for most people. But as you can probably guess, there are underlying principles that evoke the appreciation of beauty in humans. They are referred to as the principles of design.
When these principles are applied to landscape design, it gives your landscape a sense of cohesion and aesthetics. Armed with these principles, you can push your creativity to bring even your wildest ideas to fruition. In this post, we’ll explore these principles.
Unity refers to how different elements of a design work come together to create a sense of wholeness. In terms of landscape design, this means landscape elements such as grass, bushes, trees, and more are supposed to complement one another to create a central theme.
Unity in landscape design can be achieved in a variety of ways. Arranging plants based on their shape is a great way to attain that. Hence, consider making the trees surrounding your lawn, as well as the bushes in your yard, uniformly shaped. Consequently, you may have to avoid trees that have different shapes.
But if you want to incorporate several shapes, then repetition is a great way to attain unity. Arranging objects repetitively can add life to your landscape. Common patterns you should consider include short-high-short, small-big-small, and square-round-square. Repetition allows you to explore the diversification of design without compromising unity.
Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, textures, and space. In simpler terms, it’s all about creating a sense of equality, which, in turn, boosts visual attractiveness. There are two types of balance: symmetrical (formal) and asymmetrical (informal) balance.
In symmetrical balance, the two sides of the landscape are mirror images of each other. A tree lying to the left of the symmetry line is directly replicated at the right with the same dimensions. Taking this approach requires constant maintenance to ensure that both sides continually look identical.
On the other hand, asymmetrical balance allows for the arrangement of objects in a more chaotic way. Consequently, it allows for greater freedom. While different elements are used in their landscape composition, they are balanced using their imaginary weights.
Simplicity is the discipline of minimizing and refining a design. Keeping landscapes simple, not cluttered or fussy, is always a good practice. However, simplicity does not mean you should avoid complex features. Many landscapes have complex features, including water features, extensive lighting features, and complex architectural designs. What you should avoid is the use of too many colors, shapes, curves, and textures. But again, that doesn’t mean you stifle your creativity. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance that will give a cohesive theme.
Proportion refers to the size relationship that parts of the design have to each other and the design as a whole. Just think about how the size of a chair’s back is built in proportion to its legs’ size. In the same way, the buildings, plants, space, elements of décor, and other elements of your landscape have to be proportionately sized. This means taking into account vertical, horizontal, and spatial relationships.
Any good landscape design has a focal point where the viewers’ eyes are drawn to. For instance, think of a fountain surrounded by bushes. The fountain is the focal point as it draws viewers’ attention to the centerpiece. Common features that attract viewers’ attention include bright colors, complex shapes, statues, high-tech features, and many more.
In most landscape designs, there is usually one main focal point with several other focalization points in different areas of the landscape. However, overusing this principle can lead to the opposite effect.
Rhythm is about repetition and the strategic placement of elements that contribute to a landscape’s underlying structure. A rhythm is established in layman’s terms when something in the landscape is repeated with a standard interval. This can be a row of plants, benches, or lamp posts positioned at an equal interval from one another. This principle gives a landscape a sense of movement, which can draw people into the landscape, thereby calming their souls.
Contrast refers to placing opposing elements together (black/white, light/dark, smooth/rough, etc.) to create visual interest. By arranging color in alternating ways, you can transform your landscape into a strikingly fresh and appealing scenery. Contrast can also be used to create perspective in your landscape design. For instance, warm colors like orange and red make an object stand out and appear closer to you. On the other hand, cold colors like green and blue make objects appear farther.
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