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Landscaping 101 – Three Elements of a Balanced Landscape Design

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Aesthetic landscapes are more than just pretty views; they can evoke emotions and provide a place to relax and recharge. From the gentle sway of ornamental grasses to the harmonious tones of water features, every element in an aesthetic landscape is chosen with purpose. These thoughtful designs are pleasing to the eye and stimulate the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals and promote overall health and wellbeing. In addition, spending time in nature is proven to be beneficial for physical and mental health by reducing stress and improving mood.

While there are many ways to create an aesthetic landscape, it is important to choose a theme that will complement the natural environment and fit with your personal taste. For example, you might want to create a more formal look with straight lines and geometric shapes. Alternatively, you might prefer a more relaxed feel with rounded plants and curved walkways. The choice is completely up to you.

Another important consideration when designing an aesthetic landscape is the use of color. Different colors can have a wide range of emotional effects, and it is important to choose the right shades for your yard. Cooler colors like blue and white can convey a sense of calmness or tranquility, while warmer tones such as yellow and red can evoke feelings of happiness and friendliness.

It is also important to consider the use of textures in your landscaping. Texture can add depth and interest to your garden, and it can be achieved by adding different materials such as wood, stone or gravel. Lastly, it is important to consider the balance of the different elements in your landscape so that the entire design feels cohesive and harmonious.

Research into landscape aesthetics is growing, but it has not yet been fully integrated with classical descriptors of biodiversity ecology (see figure 3). This will be necessary if landscape aesthetics are to become operational and contribute to people’s motivation for biodiversity conservation at landscape and species level.

A strong relationship between the aesthetic value of a landscape and its biodiversity attributes is important for both society and biodiversity conservation. However, the connection between these values is complex and varies with landscape structure and the scale at which people integrate ecological information. In order to achieve a full understanding of this relationship, it will be necessary to develop an operational definition of landscape aesthetics that links perception with biodiversity attributes.


Form describes the three-dimensional qualities of landscape elements including plants, trees and hardscape features such as outdoor fireplaces or retaining walls. The shape of plant branches or growth habit, the style in which shrubs are trimmed, and even the overall layout of a flowerbed can contribute to the form of a landscape. Form contrasts with line as it is the third element of a balanced landscape design and involves the overall shape of individual objects.

A variety of form prevents a landscape from looking sterile and uninteresting. Rounded, natural shapes can soften the sharp angles of a home’s architecture or the hardscaped surfaces of walkways and driveways. The rounded, natural forms of landscape plantings can also break up the sharp lines of other landscape elements like fences and trellises.

The way the human eye perceives shape creates a mood or ambiance. Rectilinear designs feel structured and formal, circles have a softer, more casual feeling, and irregular shapes can feel strong and powerful. A landscape’s form can help set a theme for the entire space and tie the design together.

Line plays a key role in landscape composition, setting the boundaries for the landscape, providing direction and creating movement. Lines can be straight, curved, vertical or horizontal and are an important part of the balance between elements in a landscape. Lines also create planes that add visual weight and a sense of depth to the landscape.

Using a combination of form, line, and texture, designers create the basic structure of a landscape. Generally, landscape themes are either formal or informal but may also incorporate elements of both, such as the use of geometric shapes for the hardscape and naturalistic shapes for the plant bedlines.

Choosing the right plant form is an essential component of landscaping. The individual form of a shrub decides its function, with upright, vase and rounded forms preferred for taller scenes while cascading, spiky and spreading forms are better suited to lower ground cover or massed in the garden. Grouping plants in a mass or cluster also alters their form and gives them a new shape that is distinct from the individual plants.


Lines are one of the most important functions in landscape design, creating patterns and guiding movement. They can also establish dominance, create form, develop space and tie elements together. The use of lines can dramatically affect the emotional response of a viewer and is one of the most powerful ways to shape and direct the eye throughout a garden.

Landscape lines can be real (actual) or perceived (implied). They may be created when different materials meet on the ground plane – such as the edge of a patio paver meeting a green lawn or a path carved out of sod – or from an object’s outline or silhouette against a background, like a fence or a trellis. The function of landscape lines can also be influenced by the use of repetition – the repeated occurrence of a particular element or plant in a space – to create a rhythm or sequence in the garden.

Curved lines shape informal garden beds and add interest to pathways, while straight lines evoke a sense of order and a more formal crispness. Horizontal lines create a soothing sense of stability. And vertical lines project a sense of strength and movement.

While straight lines elicit a more structured, rigid and formal feel, they can be softened by the use of curved bedlines, curved plant edges, or by forming them into a meandering garden path or dry streambed. A swooping curved line can also be accentuated with parallel plantings that run the length of the bedline or pathway.

Lines that move upward energize a landscape, draw the eye around corners, and create a feeling of movement and energy. They can highlight focal points and emphasize a structure, and are often used to define the edge of a garden or define spaces between house boundaries and property lines. Vertical lines can also be created by tall plants and structures, including trees and arbors.

Horizontal lines pull the eye along the ground plane and expand the view. They can tie spaces together and separate them as well, and are commonly created by walkways, short garden walls and hedges.


Landscape function refers to the ability of a landscape to provide benefits for humans. These benefits include recreational opportunities, environmental protection, and economic development. Landscaping may also be used to restore, improve, or maintain the original condition of natural ecosystems.

A landscape is an area of land that is primarily visible, including gardens, yards, parks and other areas adjacent to homes or buildings. It can include all living and non-living elements such as rocks, soil, plants, trees, paths, walkways, ponds and water features. Landscaping also includes all structures built on or in the landscape, such as retaining walls, driveways, fences, garden sculptures and lawn furniture. Landscaping services include planting, mowing, pruning, mulching, fertilizing and pest management. Landscaping is performed on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis depending on the needs of each site.

Every property has different needs and a unique natural environment that must be balanced. To determine how the landscape functions, a landscape architect should analyze the natural resources, including air, water and landforms. The analysis should also consider the frequency, magnitude, and duration of any stresses to the area. The results of the analysis should be compared to the initial conditions of the landscape.

When landscapes are used as an environmental restoration tool, they must be designed to provide sustainable and natural alternatives to the underlying ecosystems. This can be done by reducing or eliminating chemical, physical and biological pollutants in the surrounding environment. Landscaping can be used to help control erosion, protect against flooding and reduce sewage runoff. In addition, landscaping can be utilized to prevent soil compaction and reduce the need for irrigation.

Landscaping is also beneficial for the environment because it can help to clean air and water, create a cooling effect, rehabilitate soil, absorb toxins and enhance a sense of well-being. Studies have shown that people who view nature are less stressed and have a higher level of happiness. In fact, patients in hospitals who have a view of vegetation are more likely to recover faster and require less pain medication than those who do not have a view of nature.