Part Two of Landscape Design Principles for Vermonters

May 11, 2010

Continuing with our article about Landscape Design for Vermonters (if you missed part one, you can read it here: Landscape Design Vermont) next we’ll cover Balance and Color.

Balance in design is also about Equality. There are two basic types of balance in landscape design, Symmetrical and Asymmetrical.

Symmetrical balance is, as you’ve probably guessed, all about keeping things more or less equally spaced and matching elements of your garden design. When a garden is equally divided, both sides could share the same shape, form, plant height, plant groupings, colors, bed shapes, theme, etc. Symmetrical balance or design is somewhat of a mirror image or reflection.

Asymmetrical balance on the other hand, is a little more complex. While textures, forms, colors, etc. may remain constant to create some unity – shapes and hardscapes may be more random. A good example of this would be where bed shapes or paths actually differ on both sides of the dividing line. One side might be curvy with a sense of flow while the other side is straight, direct, and hard.

This can create a very interesting contrast. Flowing lines are pleasing to the eye but the bold contrast of a curve with a straight line can be very focused.

Another way to achieve Asymmetrical balance might be to have one side of the garden mostly large shade trees while the other side is predominately a lower growing flower garden or even a mix of both examples.

Ultimately, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Color adds an amazing dimension of real life and interest to landscape design.

Bright colors like reds, yellows and oranges almost seem to advance toward you and can actually make an object seem closer. Cool colors like greens, blues, and pastels seem to move away from you and can make an object seem farther away.

Grays, blacks, and whites are considered neutral colors and are best used in the background with bright colors in the foreground.

To increase depth in a landscape, you can use dark and coarse textured plants in the foreground and use fine textured and light colored plants in the background.

Colors can also be used to direct your attention to a specific area of the garden. A bright display among cooler colors would naturally catch the eye.

If you don’t like radical or abrupt changes in your landscape, natural transition can be applied. An example of natural transition would be a stair-step effect from large trees to medium trees to shrubs to bedding plants.

Also, give special consideration to proper plant selection to avoid using plants that are out of proportion.

Repetition is directly related to unity. It’s good to have a variety of elements and forms in the garden – repeating these elements gives variety expression. Too many unrelated objects can make the garden look cluttered and unplanned.

There’s a fine line here. It’s possible that too much of one element can make a garden or landscape feel uninteresting, boring and monotonous. So consider using several different elements repeatedly.

This keeps the garden interesting!  Most importantly, have fun!

Penny and Julie


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