Landscaping Services

Landscaping Design Basics

Whether you’re building a new home or need to update your backyard, landscaping design is a crucial part of any project. Effective landscape design uses basic principles to create harmony and balance for your property.


A key part of effective landscape design is the ability to connect areas. Whether it’s an entire multi-area layout, simply a walkway between the patio and pool, or even your front door to the garden, how these spaces are connected can make or break the look of a property. This can be achieved by gradually varying the plant’s size or the color’s intensity. It can also be accomplished by introducing texture or form to different areas. A good landscaping company will consider transitions in its designs to help ensure that everything fits together aesthetically and functionally seamlessly.

One of the most important concepts in design is the interconnection or physical linkage of features within a landscape. This can be achieved through hardscape lines (such as walkways), emphasis (focal points), repetition of elements, and intentional marking of pathways.

Color is a strong design element that can attract attention, guide the eye and highlight key features in a landscape. It can also set the mood of the garden. Choosing color is not a simple matter but a critical step in creating a successful landscape design. Environmental influences, the color schemes that predominate in a neighborhood, and the colors of your house or other site feature all play an important role in this decision.

Warm colors tend to pop in the landscape, while cool colors recede and can be used to make a small space feel larger. Green is another calming color that will enhance your garden’s vibe.

Line in landscape design can be created by a sharp edge of hardscape material, the outline or silhouette of a form, or long linear features. This element helps control the eye and body movement in the garden, and is used to develop spaces, create forms, establish dominance, and craft a cohesive theme.

Straight lines are structural and forceful; they give a formal character and direct the eye to a focal point. They are usually found in hardscape edges and materials but can also be used in softscape materials such as native grasses. Curved lines move the eye slower and add mystery to the space. They are often used to frame views we see or don’t want to see.

In landscaping, design form refers to the three-dimensional appearance of plants and hardscape features. The shapes of plants – upright, groundcover, round or freeform – and hardscape forms – stone paths, retaining walls or pergolas – vary according to the overall landscape theme. Form also contributes to the rhythm and flow of a landscape. For example, a curved line following a row of round plants gives the landscape a natural feel.

Lines are another important design element and can take many forms – straight, curved, horizontal, or diagonal. They can delineate a space, create visual interest or highlight a focal point like a pond, pool, or fire pit. During the design process, designers will often draw lines on a plan that extend from the edges of the house to property lines (Figure 16). These are called regulating lines, delineating space, and defining forms extending into and between the yard spaces.

The texture is the perceived roughness or smoothness of individual outlines of plant foliage, hardscape materials, or garden structures. It is felt primarily through touch but can also be experienced visually. Bold, coarse-texture plants, such as those with large leaves or flowers, garner attention and make a bold statement in the landscape. Fine-textured plantings are less striking but can still add drama to a design.

Texture can be created by combining a variety of fine-, medium- or coarse-textured plants or by using contrasting hardscape materials or garden structures. For example, the contrast of a wall’s smooth and rough textures creates a dramatic effect.

There are also a number of different types of landscaping architecture, including formal, informal and tropical landscaping architecture. Formal landscaping design elements include courtyards, spas, and fountains. Informal landscaping designs are those that make use of natural materials such as small ponds, waterfalls, and plants. Tropical landscaping uses large gardens, usually designed to include waterfalls and fountains.

The key thing to remember when choosing between landscaping features is to match it to the style of your house. For example, if you have a traditional home trying to create a tropical feel, going with a tropical landscaping idea will work out poorly. The same goes for going with a formal feeling and planting trees.