Creating a beautiful yard from scratch can be daunting. Thankfully, there are simple design principles that can guide you when revamping your home’s exterior. In this blog post, we go over three landscape design principles we used to create a small, contemporary garden in Parkland, Florida.
1. Curving Lines
Most exterior structures —such as driveways and fences— are composed of straight lines. Because plants are placed bordering these straight structures, the resulting planting beds are usually straight as well. This uniformity in shapes can cause gardens to fall flat, even when they have pleasing plants.
To break up the monotony, try to add some curvature where possible. In this parkland landscape design we added a curving path of grass to a previously square grass area, and surrounded the grass patch with a curving rock river. We also created a rock semicircle where we added our some of our showiest plants.
The curves naturally lead observers around the small planting bed area and add irregularity to keep things interesting. Adding different shapes can also make a smaller area such as this one feel bigger. Try adding some curvature to your planting beds using rocks, grass, or mulch. You can also place plants in curving patterns if you want to keep costs lower. You only need a small amount of curvature to achieve the desired effect, so avoid overdoing it to still maintain a neat look.
2. Specimen Plant
Another landscape design principle we used in this Parkland garden was adding a specimen plant. A specimen plant has distinguishing features that make it a focal point in a landscape. In this Parkland landscape design we chose a lush, diamond-cut Sylvester palm to serve as the specimen plant. Not only is it significantly bigger than other plants in the design, it also has a yellowish trunk that adds color and makes it stand out from the grass patch.
Specimen plants such as this Sylvester palm make spaces seem bigger by drawing viewer’s eyes upwards, adding an extra dimension of space (height) to exteriors. They also add a certain fullness to landscape designs, bringing the rest of the parts together to create a cohesive image.
Many novice designers try to achieve this same fullness by placing many small plants close together. Yet this practice often leads to plant sickness because of overcrowding and makes areas look cluttered and messy. Therefore, if you want a lush backyard that is still neat and manicured, add a large tree to serve as a focal point.
3. Varying Textures
In this Parkland landscape design we installed plants with varying textures to add a layer of complexity. Texture can be used to add balance and depth while keeping things visually interesting. The foxtail ferns’ bushy appearance contrasts the glossy leaves of the Natal Plum, while the Bromeliads' smooth leaves contrast the palm’s spiky fronds.
Taken together, these different textures make the plants stand out from one another and magnify the space. An important note is that you should still have some plants that are alike in texture. Having similar textures throughout the space is important to prevent the space from looking chaotic.
Though there are many more design principles that you can use, these 3 are a good starting point for the novice gardener. We hope you liked this landscape design breakdown, and hope to bring you more in the future.