8 landscape design principles: Your essential guide

Creating the perfect paradise

Do you dream of sitting in your garden enjoying a cup of tea surrounded by lush greenery and the vibrant colours of flowers, with the soft, soothing trickle of the water from a waterfall feature? If you do, you’re not alone! Having that perfect paradise in your back yard, or even your front yard, will not only uplift your mood but give the exterior of your home an eye-popping facelift.To achieve such results, however, it’s not as simple as buying a few plants and placing them where you think fit. There’s a level of art and strategy involved. That’s why they call it landscape designing.Curious? To help diffuse your curiosity – below are some of the core principles that are the building blocks to landscape designing that allow creating such picture-perfect gardens.

Landscape design principles

These principles are fundamental elements for consideration during the designing of both the hardscape (fencing/walls/patios) and the softscape (garden/shrubs/trees) of your property. Combined, they will turn the blank canvas of your garden into a beautifully harmonious oasis.

1. Colour

Colour has a strong relationship with art of any kind. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the colour of plants is one of the main things that first comes to the mind of those considering landscape design; and is defined by the colour theory (primary/secondary/tertiary colours).The use of colours creates a sense of personality and sets a certain mood for the environment.

The basic colour schemes


This is the use of only one other colour apart from the green of the grass and foliage. You may opt for something light and bright, such as white flowers or decide to go for something with deeper, darker tones. Using different shades of greens in a planting design looks elegant and is restful on the eye whilst providing a feeling of calm.


This colour scheme has an option of three to five colours that are adjacent on the colour wheel and share similar properties, such as red-orange, yellow-orange and blue-violet etc.

Complementary scheme

As the name suggests, these are colours that complement each other. They are opposites on the colour wheel. For example, this could be red and green or blue and orange. In a mixed perennial garden bed, a stunning combination of purple, yellow, and orange offer a bright, vibrant, energetic colour scheme. You can have a bit of fun in your garden planning a palette based on the mood you would like to portray.

2. Line

Have you ever entered a garden and found yourself just going with the flow? Well, this is where line comes into landscape designing. Designers use lines to create a flow, control movement and give the illusion of distance and depth. You’ll notice this in the arrangement of plants, for instance.

3. Balance

If you’re familiar with the art and design space, you’ll notice the word balance often crops up. In landscape design, this can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. Simply put, in symmetrical balance, the two sides are the same. Asymmetrical balance, on the other hand, is achieved using different elements which have similar weights. Having the right balance can help the viewers perspective meet the focal point with more intensity.

4. Form

Form in landscaping refers to the shapes of plants and objects placed within a landscape. This is the landscaping principle that determines the style of your garden.

Forms can exist in

Geometric forms

Such forms include circles, arcs, square features, or irregular forms such as polygons. E.g., steppingstones, round pool, or lawn area, etc.

Naturalistic forms

Examples of this include meandering lines such as pathways or organic edges such as foliage and rocks.

Plant forms

These include a variety of tree forms such as round, oval, weeping etc. And shrubs that are arced, spikey, or vase-shaped.

5. Texture

Texture creates a sense of visual excitement and mystery. It adds depth and brings the space to life with the 3-dimensional variety of shape, pattern, and of course, texture. From a distance, texture comes from the entire mass of the plant and the effects of light upon it. Close up, you’ll notice the texture of the leaves, the shape, and the size. Some are course and rough against your skin, others smooth as silk. For instance, Grass provides a lovely soft texture in gardens whilst also providing movement. They look amazing, surrounded by shaped, softer textured plants and hedges or even flowering plants, to create interest and intrigue.

6. Scale AKA proportion

Simply put, scale or proportion refers to the size of landscape elements in relation to their surroundings. For instance, a large, tall wall will elegantly add to the presence of a grand estate, but the same wall would make a small house look even smaller. The same applies to plants and trees when matched with a single or double-storey house. Two-story homes lend themselves to taller trees or columnar trees, which add elegance and drama. However, they would be out of place with a single storey home, which requires smaller trees and more compact plantings to not overpower them home with their height and foliage.

7. Unity

Also known as harmony, unity involves using elements and features with consistent characteristics so that they blend in harmony. A great way to achieve this is to have a theme for your landscape that defines the overall set of features. Designing with simple or complimentary planting pallets and not too many species in one area creates a sense of calm and peace as the eye is not overwhelmed by too many plants placed with no planning or thought. A Mediterranean themed garden is a great example of this around a character home – they work well together and complement each other.

8. Repetition

As you’ve guessed, this involves repeating elements or features to create a pattern. But be warned, too much repetition can lead to monotony, and too little can look a bit out of place. Both of which can throw the viewer off. Therefore, it’s essential to gain the right balance. If you’re worried about repetition, don’t be. There are ways to add intrigue. For instance, the use of gradation through which a characteristic of a feature gradually changes. Repetition in landscape design gives a sense of grandeur and expectation, and is especially essential in larger estate gardens, where repeated plantings or mirrored trees in feature locations carry a story through so that there are no drastic changes with the design and the theme joins one garden room with another making sure the entire design complements both the home and each garden room created within the estate.

So, there you have it, the core principles of landscape designing.

At the heart of landscape design

As you may have grasped by now, the fundamental concept of landscape design is to create attractive and functional outdoor spaces using horticultural science and the artful composition of the above principles to create truly visually appealing masterpieces.

Bring your garden to life today

If you wish to turn your garden into the oasis you dream of, book a free discovery call today by calling 04 7505 1446.We will work closely with you to create beautiful and functional outdoor living spaces infused with your personality and tailored to your lifestyle.

Book a free discovery call 0493 559 523