The Elements of Good Garden Design

Rely on these artistic principles to take the mystery out of garden design, even if you are working with a professional.
The Power of Line
Grassy garden path between stone edging Strong lines can draw your eye
into the landscape, directing
both where people look and
where they go.

Line is one of the most important and useful of all design elements. Everything in the garden involves line. Think about the trunk of a tree, the distant horizon, the line created when a lawn ends and the adjacent woods begin. A sidewalk, driveway, or fence is a clear and readily accessible line in the landscape. As you plan and design your garden, always consider the line that is created by whatever you are adding.

There are four main ways to describe lines: curved, straight, horizontal, and vertical. None is more important than the others -- each has different effects.

Curved lines shape informal garden beds and add interest to pathways. Straight lines evoke a sense of order and a crispness that is more formal.

Soothing horizontal lines create a sense of stability. Think of the ocean and how its wide expanse meets the sky, creating an irrefutable sense of peacefulness and majesty. Vertical lines project a sense of strength and movement.

No matter which types of line you use, be aware that lines lead the eye. Lines going away from you on the ground draw you forward. Horizontal lines on the ground slow you down. Vertical lines lead the eye up and out of the garden. Curving lines take the eye on an intriguing journey. All are desirable. It's up to you to know where the lines will lead you or your eye and what you will see when you get there.

Continued on page 2:  Light, Texture, and Form