There is a principle of all art forms that we need to work to, even in landscape design, and that is balance. It implies a sense of equality, and while there’s just a little more to it of course, I usually explain it to those who like to do the work themselves, as follows.
A garden, or landscape, would naturally feel and look better when it’s well balanced. However, most gardens and landscapes are not exact or symmetrical in shape or form. They’re asymmetrical and abstract in form and are often without any natural balance of their own. So, to obtain a good looking landscape garden we often rely on all the other elements to create balance and harmony.
On many occasions, a lack of balance is directly related to no or very little repetition. Repeating elements such as plants or rocks throughout your garden helps blend different areas to each other. It only takes one repeated, matching plant group, colour, piece of decor, or a landscape feature, can accomplish this.
It’s always best in the beginning of your design, to plan for less, place just a few matching plant groups throughout the garden, and keep your garden decor matching and to a minimum. Remember it’s always easier to add to later, I am a great believer in letting your garden and landscape evolve so to speak.
So many people I speak with, when asking questions about landscape design, will often refer to the shape of a design. Now don’t get me wrong, shape is unique to each design and will ultimately follow the necessary paths in order to obtain your visions. However, you can still have great shape and be filled with elements and still be dull, too loud, too cluttered, and unbalanced. So balance isn’t always dependant on shape. So don’t get too hung up on trying to even things out entirely by the shape of your gardens.
Landscape design is a form of art and therefore deals with “all” the principles that other art forms use. Repetition, balance and unity, are all principles of art that go hand in hand, working with each other to produce the masterpiece.
When architects design their buildings with doors, windows, fixtures, trims, etc. they use repetition in the same size, shape, and styles. Imagine how your home would feel if every door, door frame, window, and fixture were of different sizes, shapes, colours etc. I think it would look terrible, nothing would match, very disjointed. And so it’s the same when creating your landscape design.
Creating balance, as well as appeal, and even comfort in a garden that is lacking, we need to include plenty of consistency and repetition. Even as little as one matching element, placed opposite each other can create this balance.
It’s easier and often created in the softscape side of your design, for example plants, lawns, decor and ornaments, etc. However, it should not be discarded in the hardscape side of things either, pathways, driveways, fences, retaining walls, raised beds, boundaries, etc.
All in all, remember to enjoy your design attempts, include areas for you to sit, relax and benefit from your hard work.