Irish Gardeners Forum Home
 FAQFAQ   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
Custom Search
Weather Report /
Moon Phase for Ireland

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Garden planning, prep and landscape design in Ireland

Landscaping Design - The Primary Principles of Landscaping

Most Recent Posts Planning the garden jobs month by month - DECEMBER
Last post: tagwex
Rocks in troughs.
Last post: tagwex
Time to go?
Last post: tagwex
harvesting rain water
Last post: ponddigger
Author Message
James Kilkelly
Rank: Site Admin

Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2173
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:02 pm    Post subject: Landscaping Design - The Primary Principles of Landscaping Reply with quote

Landscaping Design - The Primary Principles
By J Voight

Principles refer to standards or prescriptions for working with or arranging various elements to produce the intended landscape design. Good landscape design follows a combination of seven principles: unity, balance, proportion, focalization or emphasis, sequence or transition, rhythm, and repetition.

Photo / pic / image of a sample landscape design.

Unity refers to the use of elements to create harmony and consistency with the main theme or idea of the landscape design. Unity gives the landscape design a sense of oneness and interconnection. Unity in landscape design can be achieved by using plants, trees, or material that have repeating lines or shapes, a common colour, or similar texture. However, too much unity in landscape design can be boring. Therefore, it is important to introduce some variety or contrast into the landscape design.

Balance gives the landscape design a sense of equilibrium and symmetry in visual attraction. There are three ways by which balance may be presented in landscape design. Symmetrical or formal balance is achieved when the mass, weight, or number of objects both sides of the landscape design are exactly the same. Asymmetrical or informal balance in landscape design suggests a feeling of balance on both sides, even though the sides do not look the same. Asymmetrical balance in visual attraction may be achieved by using opposing compositions on either side of the central axis. Landscape design with radial balance has a center point. A sunflower, a wheel, and the cross-section of an orange all have radial balance.

Proportion describes the size relationship between parts of the landscape design or between a part of the design and the design as a whole. A large fountain would cramp a small backyard garden, but would complement a sprawling public courtyard. Additionally, proportion in landscape design must take into consideration how people interact with various components of the landscape through normal human activities.

Focalization or Emphasis directs visual attention to a point of interest or prominent part of the landscape design. This could be a hanging earth-forms sculpture, a stone-finished Corinthian garden fountain, a mass of architectural herbaceous perennials, or an elegant spruce. Emphasis in landscape design may be achieved by using a contrasting color, a different or unusual line, or a plain background space. Paths, walkways, and strategically placed plants lead the eye to the focal point of the landscape without distracting from the overall landscape design.

Sequence or Transition creates visual movement in landscape design. Sequence in landscape design is achieved by the gradual progression of texture, form, size, or color. Examples of landscape design elements in transition are plants that go from coarse to medium to fine textures or softscapes that go from large trees to medium trees to shrubs to bedding plants. Transition in landscape design may also be used to create depth or distance or to emphasize a focal point.


Rhythm creates a feeling of motion which leads the eye from one part of the landscape design to another part. Repeating a color scheme, shape, texture, line or form evokes rhythm in landscape design. Proper expression of rhythm eliminates confusion and monotony from landscape design.


And finally, repetition in landscape design is the repeated use of objects or elements with identical shape, form, texture, or color. Although it gives the landscape design a unified planting scheme, repetition runs the risk of being overdone. However, when correctly implemented, repetition can lead to rhythm, focalization or emphasis in landscape design.

J Voight is an avid landscaping design enthusiast who provides excellent tips, techniques, and advice to anyone wanting information on landscape design. You'll find all of this outstanding landscaping news at

Gardening books. Ireland's allotments.
On Twitter...

Garden Consultation & Design.

Try my Garden Design home study course!

Last edited by James Kilkelly on Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:08 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree

Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 53
Location: Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I attended college for landscape design, one class in the curriculum was Bonsai to introduce students to a few design principles of Japanese style.

That art, and the Japanese style of design seems to avoid rythm and repetition. If it's used , maybe it's hidden, like where pattern replaces rythym.

I recall a newspaper artical about a design in Hillsboro, Oregon, USA, by an architect that liked stone. He designed a courtyard with impressive simplicity.

The entire courtkyard was raked fine textured gravel - light color like tan. On one side was a massive and interesting shaped boulder. On the other side was a grove of fine textured bamboo.

This probably superceded balance. The landscape architect was using art and contrast instead.

There was no rythm or repetition. The hard and the soft effectively complemented one another. It was a landscape version of antithesis.

Reflecting on that project, I think it's success lies in omitting almost all of the rules. It was very interesting to view.

That architect also built some amazing stone walls. Wish I could remember his name. I had not thought about his work in years.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon

Coast Redwoods

Medford Landscape Design & Trees

Medford & Rogue Valley Photographer
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 01 Nov 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a Landscape Architect who used to live and work in Portland Oregon, my guess is you're talking about Robert Murase.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Orem, UT

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GPI, well said! When I designed my own landscape, I tried to incorporate each of these elements for my front and back yard. Its interesting to drive around the neighborhood and see how different landscapes compare.

One of the biggest mistakes (if you want to call it that) that people make in their front yards is Focalization, or lack thereof. As a general rule of thumb, you want your front door be be the focal point, a place to where people are drawn. To establish the front door as a focal point, you should create an invisible line that starts at the bottom of the door and extends diagonally up towards the corners of your house, or there abouts. When planning your front yard, choose plants whose mature heights rest somewhere along this line.

Also, when planting a tree in your front yard, don't place it in front of the doorway, because it will detract attention from the main focal point. It will look much better if you place it off to one side or the other.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Garden planning, prep and landscape design in Ireland All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1


Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2006 - 2018 (part of