Principles of Design

A garden will constantly change, and a good garden designer should foresee and account for changes which are likely to occur. Plants grow, flower and die. The garden continually changes through the cycle of the season. An accomplished gardener will not only be aware of, but will use these changes to create a dynamic garden that always has something of interest in it.

There are basic principles which should be considered as you design a garden. These are those things which influence the way in which the components (e.g. plants, structures or paths) are arranged. If you can grasp an understanding of the following “principles” that will go a long way towards helping you create a truly stunning garden:


A repetitive pattern (e.g. an avenue of standard roses) can be used to create unity. A lawn, path, mass planting of one species, or water flowing through a garden can be used to tie other components of the garden into one cohesive unit.


This refers to an equilibrium either symmetrical (duplication on either   side of an imaginary line) or asymmetrical (dissimilar placement of   different objects or masses on either side of the same sort of imaginary line, but in a way that an equilibrium exist).


This refers to proper sizing or scaling of components in relation to each other, for example, a 30m tall Eucalypt would look out of place in a small courtyard cottage garden.


This component is usually the prime objective of any landscape so that different parts of the landscape fit together.


Contrast is in opposition to harmony and should not be overdone otherwise chaos may result. Occasional contrasts to the harmony of a design will create an eye catching feature in a garden ‑ adding life and interest to an area which would otherwise be dead.


Rhythm is a conscious repetition of equal or similar components in the garden. It is usually created by repetition and transition.