Happy Monday all! I am trying to get back into the swing of things after a week full of travel, family and friends! Christmas decorations are strewn about the house, but bit by bit, I will triumph!!
This week is full of great posts! Tomorrow we will look at our second installation on collecting: how to display your collections.
Today, we have our first post from another talented friend, who just happens to be an expert in Horticulture! Laura is going to give us a series on Landscape Design, and the principles behind it.
A little about her: Laura Bruner taught landscape design in Auburn University's Department of Horticulture after completing her Ph.D. in horticulture. Her landscape design business, Two Trees Designs, designed residential landscapes in East Alabama and West Georgia before relocating to the Dallas area. Since moving she has contributed to gardening magazines, spoken to gardening groups on landscape design and continues in design work. She enjoys nothing more than the order and beauty you find in a well done garden. Unfortunately, neither is reality in her home at this time with three lively children six years old and under.
Principles of Landscape Design
Trends may come and go, but principles are timeless and proven. The same landscape design principles used by Frederick Law Olmsted when he conceived many well-known American urban parks in the late 1800s can be used to improve the aesthetics of your landscape today. Order, unity and rhythm – think of them as the Golden Rules of Design and your landscape will benefit from their enduring application.
Design principles translate into all the design trades; architecture, photography, interior design and landscape design. Design concepts you may be familiar with and have applied to your home’s interior can be used in a different application on your landscape and outdoor entertaining areas.
Order is the overall framework of the design, its underlying visual structure. One way to implement order in the landscape is to achieve balance, or the equal distribution of visual weight throughout the landscape.
Symmetrical balance is the familiar foundation for formal gardens. A landscape composition has symmetrical balance when there are equal numbers, types of colors on each side of an assumed visual axis. This home’s parking court and front gardens are a modern, contemporary take on symmetrical balance. The lines of the home and landscape are perfectly mirrored with the visual axis and focal point being the home’s entry.
While you might not be in the market for a true formal landscape, you can apply symmetrical balance similar to what you see in this photo on a small scale with identical container plantings on each side of an entry walk or a foundation planting.
Asymmetrical balance uses unequal numbers, types or colors to achieve visual balance in a composition. To understand asymmetrical balance, imagine a playground seesaw with a large child and a much smaller child on opposite ends. Balance can be achieved by the larger child moving toward the center of the seesaw or by adding additional small children.
In a landscape, objects of heavier visual weight should be balanced in a similar fashion. For instance, a large existing tree on one side of a foundation planting can be balanced by a trio of smaller trees on the other.
The grouping of crape myrtles to the left of the home provides visual weight to balance the home’s garage and driveway which previously dominated the composition.
The home in this landscape is a classic symmetrical design. The landscape is balanced, asymmetrical and flowing to reflect the carefree and relaxed nature of the homeowners.
This traditional home is asymmetrical in design. The landscape complements the home with visual balance and natural, flowing lines.
Mass collection or the grouping together of elements is another means to accomplish order in the landscape. While this principle applies to all materials used in the landscape, it has particular relevance to the grouping of plants.
If possible, plant groupings should consist of an odd number of individual plants – 3, 5, or 7 – for aesthetic purposes. Because of the way our brains perceive a group of objects, odd numbered groups are more visually cohesive than even numbered groups. Larger grouping of the same plants have greater visual impact at a distance. Even a perennial bed in its patchwork appearance, has order through mass collection and definite visual appeal.
As the landscape design is conceived and organized, it is important to consider how order will be provided through symmetry, asymmetry, mass collection or a combination of them all. The earlier order is applied in the design process, the better the results.
Design principles, unity and rhythm, will be discussed in following blog posts.