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Southern Inspirations Garden Design

A family-run business since 1997

Southern Inspirations
Principles of Design for Garden Landscaping
Good garden design is achieved when all the principles of design are followed. The principles have been described and explained below. Some examples of their practical applications have also been given.

Keep all the basic principles of design in mind throughout the whole garden design process. Get a good feel for all the principles. See which priciples you can identify in your neighbours gardens. This will make you more aware of the endless possibilities for you own garden design.

Optical Illusion

Optical illusion can be used to change the perceived appearance of your garden. Small gardens can be made to appear larger, narrow spaces wider, long distances shorter, etc.

To create an increased feeling of space, keep the pattern lines simple. Repeat the architectural lines close to your home. Finally, make use of flowing lines further away. Sometimes a hidden mirror will also add additional depth to your garden design.


Formal balance may be created using a mirror image along a vertical plan. Informal balance is achieved by one part of the gardens composition having an equivalent mass to another part. For example placing a large planting of shrubs may be needed on one side of your garden to balance a large tree on the other side.


Create unity in your garden design by repeating the patterns and plant materials.


Make sure the scale used is suitable for your garden. Small gardens can only accommodate shrubs and maybe a small tree, while a large garden could have many more large trees and shrubs.


Different forms will create different effects in your garden design. If round pots are found in your design, echo their shape in the shrubs, etc. Create different visual and emotional experiences with all the forms you use. Form have sub principles of design, e.g. vertical, horizontal, spike, round and pendulous forms.

Vertical slim forms will elegantly act as exclamation marks! Plants with flat tops have horizontal forms and will draw your eyes from side to side.

Use plants which have strong and dynamic stems (spike form) as focal points in your garden design. Round forms will stop the eye in your landscape. A weeping, pendulous form will retain the attention within a space.


Texture is used to create different effects in your garden design. Plants which have larger leaves provide a coarse texture. This creates that lush effect. Plants with shiny leathery leaves will create a harder texture. Soft texture plants have very small fine leaves. Medium texture is everything in between.


Color provides the most interesting effects. Plants may be grouped together to create large splashes of color. You can blend and harmonise all the different colors to create a pleasing effect. Using different colors of green foliage will create a very interesting backdrop to bright colors.

Color may be used to manipulate moods to create a very interesting and visually pleasing garden. Think of the colors on the artist’s pallet, the possibilities for creating a masterpiece are endless. Of all the principles of design, color will have the most dramatic effect if executed correctly.

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