You’ve always wanted to design an exceptional landscape but never really knew where to start? Let’s face it, not all of us are born landscape designers and have a really hard time even with grasping basics. In this article, we will cover some tips to get you started with realizing your dream, or to give you new ideas if you are already into landscape designs!

Working with landscapes is mostly routine work. Trimming and other maintenance work, that focuses on keeping a garden or a yard clean and tidy. But let’s not forget, there are also broader principles of design and some of them are key strategies for developing unique layout both for urban and green-space environments.

When planning any landscape, it’s important to know how will it be used. If you are planning, you should take the full space into consideration including every space available like hard-spaces such as paved areas, concrete pads, driveways and soft spaces like lawns and gardens. Slopes, drainage (even climate), utilities and other existing structures can also have a significant impact on planning and on the final result.

When designing, strive to create unity through consistency and repetition. Once we know how our general layout will look like, we need to make our design concept. Professionals say that unity and cohesion are key principles of any design. Line texture and shape are all important but without selected principles i.e. consistency or repetition harmony will always be missing whether we know it or not. Attention grabbing focal points are also a must to establish a strong pattern (for example, unique tree species are ideal for building entrances or paved driveway designs).

Lines also influence how visitors interpret a landscape. By distinguishing between unique elements and connecting similar designs, they create a sense of unity. Horizontal lines create a sense of ease and relaxation, while vertical ones have a more dynamic effect on perception.

The utilization of these lines is another key strategy in designing the perfect landscape. Straight lines enforce order, while curved ones create a sense of movement. The first principle is more common in urban areas, like downtown environments, whereas curved lines have a more natural effect (just look at Japanese free-form gardens for example). The latter can also be used to create focal points for attention since curves naturally embrace movements and imply a central point.

Symmetry and balance are also considered to be cornerstones of any designs that speaks of taste. These can be achieved both formally and informally by mirroring materials and forms.

Shapes, form, and scales are also very important strategies to create an outstanding landscape. Conical- and column-shaped trees direct attention upwards, which will guide attention to tall buildings. Trees with high trunks can give shade to lawn areas or, even to concrete-padded or -paved areas. Playing with scales can tremendously effect the feeling of an area, but still, it must maintain balance to have an effect. A variety of heights, materials, and plants can be easily selected to enhance certain qualities or distract away from others.

Last, but not least, landscape design is for the benefit of the people. This means the given area should always remain practical for everyday use and access. An urban area should utilize more hard-space elements, while a more natural environment would benefit more from green-spaces. Great landscape designs always embrace strong architectural patterns and we should always work within the scope and forms available. When planning a design, you can develop a completely new project, or can simply revisit existing ones. Using these basic strategies and the right tools it will become a lot easier to create stunning designs.