What Are the Elements and the Principles of Landscape Design?

Landscape design is a form of art that seeks to integrate the natural environment with its built elements. In order to do so, landscape designers must use certain elements and principles to ensure a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing outdoor space.

The elements of landscape design are the physical components that make up a landscape, such as plants, structures, and hardscaping. The principles of landscape design are the guiding philosophies used to bring together these components in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Elements of Landscape Design

The elements of a landscape design are the physical components that make up the outdoor space. These include plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses; hardscaping such as walkways, patios, and retaining walls; structures such as gazebos and arbors; water features such as ponds and fountains; lighting fixtures; and other decorative items such as sculptures or benches. The goal is to create an integrated whole out of these elements that creates an aesthetically pleasing outdoor environment.

Principles of Landscape Design

The principles of landscape design provide guidance on how to combine all the elements into an integrated whole. These principles include unity and harmony, balance, proportion and scale, emphasis or focal points, repetition and rhythm, contrast, variety and transition. Unity refers to creating a cohesive look by using similar materials or colors throughout the space. Harmony stresses the importance of how all of the components work together in unison.

Balance refers to creating visual weight across the entire area while proportion relates to how large or small certain components should be in relation to one another. Focal points draw attention by providing a focal point for viewers’ eyes while repetition creates visual interest by repeating certain patterns throughout the space. Contrast adds visual variety by juxtaposing different elements against each other while transition helps move viewers through different sections within a larger area.


In conclusion, landscape design involves both physical components (elements) as well as philosophical guidelines (principles) for combining those elements in an aesthetically pleasing way. By understanding both aspects it is possible for anyone to create beautiful outdoor spaces.