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Past Articles Library | Gardening Design | 8 Basic Principles - Unity

8 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 1 of 8

Doing landscape design isn't rocket science, thankfully, but there is a big difference between good design and bad design.

The biggest difference between a landscape that looks contrived or "homemade", and one that looks natural or "professionally done" really boils down to a few key concepts.

Over the next few months we'll take a look at each of the 8 basic principles of good landscape design, so that when we're done, you'll be able take any area you would like to create, design, or make over, and give it an effortless and natural feel.

Keep in mind you don't always have to use every principle we talk about here for each project you undertake, but knowing them gives you guidelines to help you generate ideas, and spark creativity.

Never feel landscape design is full of "rules" that you need to follow, because that just isn't true. Once you begin to learn what to look for in a good design however, you will see a lot of these principles being used quite frequently by some of the top landscape designers. Let's get started.

UNITY - Principle 1 of 8

Unity should always be one of your main goals in any landscape design you undertake.

Another way to apply this principle is to look at it as consistency and repetition. Repetition creates unity by repeating similar elements such as plants, plant groups, rocks, or decor throughout the landscape.

Consistency creates unity in the sense that some or all of the different elements of the landscape fit together to create a whole. We talked about this in the past article: Plant Perennials So They Look Natural

Unity can be achieved by consistently using elements with similar characteristics in the design such as plants with similar height, size, texture, and color.

A good example of this would be when using landscaping rocks or accent boulders. A poorly done landscape design would be one that had one large white round boulder used with one large black square boulder. Unity wasn't achieved using this particular element - rocks. A better way

to go about it (when you're at the rock quarry, or home improvement center), would be to pick out rocks that look similar to put either individually or in groups throughout your design. For ideas, go look at nature. Similar rocks are always in similar soil types and geographical areas.

This is just one example but the principle applies to all other landscape materials and elements such as groups of plants, decor, trees, etc.

A simple way to create unity in your landscape is by creating themes or using something you're interested in or have a passion for to repeat.

For example: if you really like birds, you could create a theme using plants that attract birds as well as using statues, ornaments, and other decor that are related to birds or flight. The same could be done with butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, ladybugs, bees, colors, etc.

Unity should always be applied through at least one element in your landscape and preferably more.

Using elements to express a main idea, through a consistent style or a specific theme, is what creates harmony, but we'll get into that at another time!


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Rotate Certain Crops

Avoid planting potatoes and tomatoes where they grew last year. They carry the same diseases, so it's best to rotate them.

You'll have much healthier plants, and more successful crops.

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