Principles of Landscaping Your Own Garden

When it comes to DIY landscaping, there are several principles to consider for the design process and which techniques to apply. Learning the basic elements underlie the approach to landscaping. The fundamentals serve as building blocks to learn the cornerstones of creating a beautiful backyard design.

There’s more to landscaping than simply putting plants in the ground. Your garden is a blank canvas that you develop to create a work of art. Thinking about form, texture, colour, proportion, transition, and repetition are all part of the creative process to design a space for balance and harmony.

These are some of the principles of landscape design to guide you in creating a beautiful and comfortable landscape.



Lines are the most important elements in landscape. They are used everywhere in flower beds, walkways, and textures to define perspective. Lines are used in a variety of forms and shapes to control movement of the eye and to create patterns, spaces, and a cohesive theme. Examples include edging of bricks meeting lawn or beds, or the silhouette of plants. Lines are curved, horizontal, vertical, or circular and create symmetrical or asymmetrical balance.



Unity is the perception that everything is connected to create a consistent flow. In contrast, scattering plants with unrelated garden ornaments gives a sense of randomness and disorder. Blending similar characteristics while adding variety helps achieve well-defined features that are visually pleasing. Choosing a particular style or theme, like a xeriscape, Mediterranean, or Japanese garden is the simplest way to determine which plants, colours, and textures you need to incorporate.



Repetition relates to unity and is used to create predictable patterns across the landscape. Repeating design elements or features that relate to the garden style gives it expression but over-using a design aspect can make the garden look monotonous and uninteresting. There is a delicate balance to maintaining a consistent tempo.



Colours give dimension to your garden. Using warmer colours like orange and red draws you in closer while the cooler colours of blues and greens create distance. Colours are the most obvious and prominent element providing the most focus. However, it can also be temporary following seasonal changes. Consider using basic colour schemes that are monochromatic, analogous, or complementary.

A monochromatic scheme uses one dominant colour with light and dark variations. Analogous are harmonious and use up to five colours that lie adjacent on the colour wheel, so it would be red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and so forth. A complementary scheme uses colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel to provide a striking contrast.



Transition is the gradual change throughout the garden. Plant size and the intensity of colours vary slightly as the eye meanders without an abrupt deviation. Transition is also applied to coarse and fine surfaces of the grounds, plant, and foliage. It provides interest, contrast, and variety. Coarseness gets the eye’s attention while fine textures increase distance and space.

Examples of coarse textures would be hydrangeas and hollies, and surfaces such as unfinished wood or aged ornamental materials. Examples of fine textures are Japanese maples and vines, and hardscape surfaces such as smooth stone, ceramic pots, and water features.



Proportion is the size of a plant or garden feature in relation to surrounding objects. It’s an important element between plants and hardscapes. Equal proportions of open spaces, planted areas, and structures help achieve emphasis on focal points and define rhythm. Fixed parameters determine how spaces and patterns can be used.


Being Practical

During the exciting process of designing your garden, keep in mind the practical aspects of your soil type, water source, sun, and wind direction, and know which plants are best grown together. Slow- and fast-growing plants and tall and short greenery should be grouped accordingly to achieve balance and unity throughout all the seasons.

Set the outline and bedded areas with walls, hedges, or paths, and include steppingstones in large beds for maintenance accessibility. Finally, garden maintenance takes a lot of effort, money, and time so consider how much you have of these resources when creating your perfect landscape.


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