Can you believe that with this article, we are already half-way through our eight-part series on basic landscaping principles?
This is very exciting because you are well on your way to being able to create professional and beautiful designs for your home, office, or garden.
This month we continue with:
BALANCE - Principle 4 of 8
Balance in design is really all about equality, and balancing certain features.
There are two types of balance you can use:
1. Symmetrical Balance
This is where all elements of the design are equally divided. Both sides could share all or part of the same shape, form, plant height, plant groupings, colors, bed shapes, theme, etc.
A good example of this is when you take a piece of paper, splash paint on it, fold it in half, unfold it, and then you have symmetrical balance or a design that is somewhat of a mirror image or reflection.
They used symmetrical balance a lot during the Renaissance period where entire gardens are mirror images from one side to the other. Just draw an imaginary line right down the middle of the garden, and each side will be a mirror image of the other.
Formal gardens are almost always symmetrical. Neat rows, mirrored images, geometric shapes. These things never appear that structured in nature. That’s Ok though. Some people like to see things balanced, giving a feeling of stability and order.
To create a symmetrical garden:
- Use mirror image shrubs or big containers to mark the beginning or end of a path
- Align hedges with property lines, walls of a house, or other prominent, important feature
- Be ready for high maintenance. Formal landscapes look terrible if they lose their symmetry because of differences in plants’ growing heights, the loss of a plant, uneven pruning, or a slight difference in a plant or element’s color.
2. Asymmetrical Balance
Asymmetrical may be better understood as actually being unbalanced, abstract, or free form while still creating unity and balance through the repetition of some elements.
Asymmetry in a garden is a little more difficult to perceive, and that’s the point, it’s more natural and relaxed.
A good example is in a traditional Japanese garden: the stones and trees, paths and shrubs all seem to be rather randomly arranged. That’s not true however, because they have been very carefully placed to be visually balanced when seen from any position in the garden.
Another good example of this would be where bed shapes or paths differ on both sides of the landscape dividing line while still sharing some of the same elements and plants.
One side could be curved with a sense of flow while the other side is straight, direct, hard, and completely opposite.
This type of contrast can be very interesting because the flowing lines are pleasing to the eye but the bold contrast of a curve combined with a straight line can be very unusual and eye-catching.
Asymmetrical balance is really fun because it isn’t dependant on the shape of your garden which frees you up to do whatever you want.
This is very powerful, because an asymmetrically balanced landscape design has the feeling of stability. The random arrangement of the elements makes them look very natural, as though they have been there for years
Another good example might be where one side of the garden is mostly large shade trees while the other side is predominately a lower growing flower garden.