Principles of Landscape Design


Unlike the blank canvases of painters or the solid blocks of raw stone favoured by sculptors, the medium that landscape artists, designers, and architects choose to work with is highly dynamic: a natural setting that changes with the seasons.

Striking landscapes, however, do not appear overnight. Along with good planning and sourcing excellent plants and decorative accents, landscape designers consider several aesthetic principles to create stunning outdoor spaces.

Key Principles of Design


Proportion refers to the size or scale of an object. While absolute proportion is the object’s actual size, relative proportion is its scale concerning other items in its environment.

In the context of landscape design, proportion is when you consider the relative proportion of plants, exterior structures such as gazebos and arbours, and decorations such as sculptures and fountains with people and nearby buildings such as houses.


Order involves how one organises the general layout of the space. It calls for balance among all the elements used to create the design as any of these can affect the final look.

To achieve this, you can combine different items such as plants and water features into distinct groups arranged around a designated central point.

In this context, repetition is when you use repeating elements to create a pattern or sequence in a space. This is most commonly seen in rural or agricultural landscapes: neat, symmetrical rows of trees in an orchard, or even the careful arrangement of pergolas in a grape arbour.

However, this principle may be difficult to execute and apply. Too much may lead to monotony, and too little can spell chaos.



Unity or harmony is about making sure that the elements you select to create or embellish an outdoor space work together. For inspiration, formal English or French gardens are the best examples of unity in landscape design.

Designers arrange plants and decorations chosen with care along well-planned footpaths radiating from a central focus such as fountains or floral clocks.

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