Scale, or proportion, is the size relationship of one object to another. A 30-foot tree is out of place in the middle of a small patio, but a dwarf tree makes sense. Conversely, a massive house overpowers a narrow front walk lined with strips of flowers.
Consider the ultimate size of a tree before you plant it. The most beautiful tree in the world will look awkward and out of place if it towers over the front of a house. That same tree, if placed in the back yard, may provide a pleasing frame for the house.
Pattern is the repetition of shapes in order. Pattern creates rhythm, as well as charm. It reinforces texture and contrast. When creating patterns, think of light and shadow as part of the palette. Use pattern to draw attention to an area; be careful not to overdo bold patterns, which can overwhelm. Also apply this principle when creating backgrounds. Lay a brick herringbone pattern in walkways, patios, entryways, and driveway borders to unify your hardscape, for example. Employ pattern as a way to direct people through the garden too.
Visual balance is achieved when the elements on each side of a real or imaginary axis are equal. If too much emphasis is placed on one side of the garden, your eye will be drawn more readily there and not to the garden as a whole.
There are two basic types of balance: symmetrical (formal) and asymmetrical (informal). When establishing balance, you need to determine a central reference point from which to draw an axis. It could be the front door, a tree in the backyard, or any other object.
Symmetrical, or formal, balance is the easiest to see and understand: The elements on either side of a real or imaginary line are mirror images. The pool garden below is a good example of this kind of balance.
Formal balance doesn't always suit a home or garden style. You may prefer informal, or asymmetrical, balance. For example, a large tree on the left can be balanced by three smaller ones on the right. Or a large mass of cool colors on one side can balance a small mass of hot colors on the other side.
Continued on page 4: Unity, Contrast, and Color