What Are the Principles of Design When Designing a Landscape?

Designing a landscape is a creative process that requires knowledge of both horticulture and basic design principles. A well-designed landscape will create an inviting, functional outdoor living space that is in harmony with its surroundings. In order to achieve this, it’s important to understand the principles of design when designing a landscape.

Unity: Unity is the goal of all good design and is achieved when all parts of the landscape come together aesthetically. This can be accomplished through repetition of elements such as plants, colors or textures. It can also be created through careful use of scale and perspective.

Balance: Balance can be achieved in two ways: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance creates equilibrium by placing objects on either side of an axis or focal point and making them equal in size and shape. Asymmetrical balance is achieved by using different sizes and shapes, yet creating a sense of equilibrium.

Proportion: Proportion refers to the size relationship between various elements in the landscape. For example, if you have a large tree then you would want to have larger shrubs around it in order to create a sense of proportion.

Rhythm: Rhythm is achieved when an element or group of elements is repeated throughout the landscape in such a way that it creates a sense of movement or flow. This could be done through repetition of color, form, texture or line.

Emphasis: Emphasis is used to draw attention to certain elements within the landscape. This could be done with color, size or even light to create visual interest.


The principles of design are essential for creating an aesthetically pleasing and functional outdoor space. Understanding unity, balance, proportion, rhythm and emphasis will help ensure that your landscaping project meets your goals for beauty, function and sustainability.