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

8 Basic Principles of Landscape Design - Part 7 of 8

This month we continue with part 7 - having already gone over 6 of the 8 concepts that most professional landscape designers use.

If you have missed any of the previous 5 articles, they were: Unity, Simplicity, Transition, Balance, Color, and Line.

This month we continue with:

Proportion - Principle 7 of 8

Proportion, also sometimes referred to as scale, is very simple, but one of the most misused and fundamental mistakes any landscape designer can make.

Even some of the most seasoned professionals don't use proportion properly because it is easy to overlook.

Proportion, quite simply refers to the size of elements in relation to each other. Of all the principles of landscape design, this one is so obvious but still requires thought and planning to be used correctly.

Most of the time different elements in a landscape design can be intentionally planned to meet the proper proportions.

Easy Mistakes To Avoid

Example 1: if you are creating a small courtyard garden, you would know that a ten foot (1.25 m) statue placed in the center would be out of proportion with the rest of the design.

Example 2: a small water fountain placed in a very large open area would get lost in the open space.

These mistakes are easily avoided

Mistakes Harder To Avoid:

Example 1: Not planning for how large a tree, shrub, or ground cover may grow upon maturity. This has to be the number one mistake in the use of proportion. Not planning enough space around elements.

So many people plant a redwood tree in a small side yard because in a small container it's so cute. But they fail to plan for the 100 foot (33 m) tree that is going to quickly grow up under the eave of the house and take over - it's too large a tree for the space!

Example 2: Not planning for how small dwarf varieties will stay, or using containers that are too small for the area. So you end up with a hodge-podge effect with lots of small plants and pots that are trying to fill a very large space and it ends up looking cluttered, too busy, and messy.

Overall Effect

Proportion is relative and elements can be scaled to fit by creating different rooms in the garden. The goal is to create a pleasing relationship among the three dimensions of length, width, and depth or height. Do that, and you'll have a winning combination no matter how large or small a yard you are designing.


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