Landscaping Part 2: Design and Style

A beautiful landscape can make even the best of homes even better. Understanding the elements of design and how they create style can help you make the best decisions when designing your landscape.



A good design is built on four equally important elements: color, texture, line, and form. A great design uses these elements to create unity and balance.


Color is one of the easier elements to identify in a design but it can be quite tricky to use in the right way. It’s great at conveying emotions but can easily be overused in a landscaping design plan. Your dominant color will of course be green. Along with any hardscape colors, green will be the background of your landscaping canvas. You’ll want to choose dynamic accent colors to bring your landscape to life. Be aware of how you place your accents – if not placed properly, they can be lost or made to compete with each other. Additionally, you should note what areas of the yard these accent colors are drawing attention to. You probably don’t want to draw attention to telephone poles and other industrial elements on the property.


Texture is all about the tactile qualities of the landscape. Both fine-texture plants and coarse-texture plants have a place in the yard and can be used to compliment each other and add interest to the space. Fine-textured plants usually have many small leaflets, needles, or twigs while coarse-texture plants can be identified by their broad leaves. The same ideas can be applied to stone and gravel as stones are considered coarse and gravel fine. A combination of both in your design can be very aesthetically pleasing.


Form deals with the concept of shape. Plants come in a variety of growth patterns including upright, pendulous, pyramidal and spreading. Be aware of these growth patterns and how they will compliment the space as you make your selections.


You can create a sense of unity throughout your landscape with the use of repetition. For instance, using the same paving material in two different parts of the space helps connect those areas and using the same accent flower in different areas of the yard can have a similar unifying effect on the whole landscape.


Creating a sense of balance can help make a space feel more comfortable and inviting. Balance can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. You can create symmetry by planning even-numbered groupings. Odd-numbered groupings create asymmetry along with the pairing of dissimilar items such as a large tree balanced by a nearby cluster of small bushes.


Choose accent elements with care so that they highlight the right areas and don’t compete with one another. We talked about accent colors but you can also make accent objects more interesting with textures, lines, and shapes that make it stand out even more.


Style comes from how you arrange all the elements of design in your space. There are two broad categories of landscape style: formal and informal. When deciding on a style, you may find that different styles work best in different areas. You may want a formal front yard and a more informal backyard. You do not have to have the same style throughout the entire space.

Formal Design

Formal style creates a sense of order and generally include a plan of symmetrical elements, geometric shapes, and objects in pairs or even-numbered groups.

Informal Design

Informal style uses the unexpected to create a casual atmosphere. It essentially turns everything from formal design on its head, allowing for dynamic use of odd-number groups, triangular arrangements, and irregular patterning.

We hope this brief overview has gotten you excited about creating your own landscaping design. Check out these resources for more helpful guides: