Why some landscape designs are so appealing and some aren’t isn’t usually an obvious observation. Most folks just know that one landscape feels right and another doesn’t without knowing what factors determine this.
To the trained eye or once I point it out to you, it becomes obvious that the deciding factor is whether or not the basic principle of landscaping, design, and art have been followed.
While I’m not going to go into detail about all the principles of landscaping, I will touch on what I feel is the most important guideline to follow. And that is the principle of simplicity.
Most home landscapers don’t realize that simplicity is actually one of the principles of landscape design. To most it just seems that it would be more complicated than that. However, simplicity isn’t just a principle of landscaping, but also of all types of art. And since landscaping is an art form, the guidelines should be followed.
Now, simplicity doesn’t just suggest that your designing should be totally without character. It basically means to stay within the other dominant principles such as balance, repetition, line, contrast, form, etc.
A big mistake that the majority of people do is in trying to add way too many contrasting elements in their ground work. This can lead to a mixed up cluttered perception of the finished design. Keeping the idea simple at the beginning will keep things in perspective. You can always change things later if you want to.
A good illustration is in selecting plants and color variations. Making the right planting choices is often a big obstacle for most do it yourselfers. Most people don’t have any knowledge of the countless varieties of plants to choose from. And even with this in mind, so many people will go to their local nursery and get a lot of different varieties of uncomplimentary plants to place in their landscape design. This one element can cause the whole garden design to be out of balance.
So what are the guidelines to this specific example?
While the majority of home gardeners don’t have much knowledge about landscaping plants, most people are somewhat acquainted with a few types or can see what stands out in other appealing landscapes. Simple observation will reveal that you can create a lot more impact from a simple selection of two or three choice varieties than you will from an unrelated mix of plantings.
In simpler terms, pick a few good types of plants and repeat them throughout the landscape or garden. Repetition is also a principle of landscape design.
Want to make a bold statement in your garden design? Simply design a few flower beds using different shades of the same color. Do this using two, three, or more species and you’ll also create an interesting and unique contrast of texture. And again, contrast and differences in texture are also principles of design and art.
This basic principle can be applied to all design elements of your design. Not just the plants in the design. I’m only using plants as an example in this article.
Try to keep elements, shapes, and design factors to a minimum to start with. Keep simplicity as your main guideline and designing your new landscape or garden should be…well…a lot simpler.