Home landscape designs vary according to family needs and preferences, but successful designs have certain underlying principles in common.
A landscape has unity when its predominant features have some visual characteristics in common. For example, plants with similar forms, colors and textures can create unity, both on your lot and in your neighborhood. This is also true of lawns and paving materials. Repeating a design pattern, color or texture in several different locations helps create unity.
Plants and landscape structures of similar visual importance help create balance in a landscape design. With color, form, texture, size and other features, you can direct attention to several areas of the yard. Balance may be symmetrical ("formal"), in which each side of the yard is similar in pattern, or asymmetrical ("informal"), in which each side attracts the same attention even though objects and spacing are not repeated.
Accent areas or focal points to which attention is drawn create emphasis and keep a design's unity and balance from becoming monotonous. A single contrast in color, texture, form or height - such as provided by a bench, tree, pool, or flower bed - can provide emphasis.
Scale refers to the size relationships among plants, structures and open spaces. A 4-foot-high shrub with a 4-foot spread may be too large - and therefore out of scale - in front of low windows. Next to a high-rise building, however, the same shrub would be out of scale because it is too small. In some home landscape situations, group plantings will compensate for plants with too-little spread.
Space. Your entire lot can be considered a block of space with dimensions of length, width and height. Plants, fences and buildings are used to divide the lot into smaller living spaces analogous to the rooms of your house. These outdoor "rooms" should have separate identities and should meet your use area needs. The "rooms" should have openings that direct movement from one to another.
Lines may be straight or curved. Landscape designers frequently lay out patios, decks and planting beds using straight lines that extend - or parallel - house and lot lines. Equally successful - and more naturalistic — designs can be created with curved lines. Straight and curved lines can be combined in a design, but it is difficult for the beginning designer to do this successfully.
These design principles will help you give specific shapes to the areas you identified in your general use sketches. But you can't design a landscape based only on placement and size of plants and structures - the main components of home landscape. You must also select the appropriate plants and construction materials.
In other words, from design principles you may arrive at the proper location and shape for a planting bed. But you must also decide what plants to put in the bed. In the same way, you have to decide what to surface a patio with as well as where and how big the patio should be.
Both plants and building materials can be selected for their form, texture and color. You will need to keep these elements of landscape composition in mind as you proceed toward your final landscape design. We discuss them further in later sections of this publication.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.