What are the principles of landscape design

What are the principles of landscape design?

An effective and sustainable landscape design doesn’t just come out of thin air. It’s an art form that is governed by several principles which affect how the design will feel, flow, and work.

Find out the basic principles of landscape design and how they transform spaces into beautiful gardens.


The classic saying simplicity is beauty can apply to most things, not the least of which is landscaping. The goal of landscape design isn’t simply to bombard spaces with as many trees or flowers as possible. 

It’s important to keep landscapes uncluttered, clean and neat. Elements that aren’t needed can and should be omitted. 

This doesn’t mean you have to be boring. You can use retaining walls, water features, landscape lighting or whatever fixture you want if needed, but only to the extent that they don’t overwhelm or overcrowd your space.


A good design draws the eye, and to achieve that you need a focal point where the viewer’s eye is first attracted. This is the strongest element of the design from any given angle.

In many cases, the focal point of a landscape design is something close to the exterior door or entrance. This is a way to enhance the entrance of the home.


You need a sense of equality even in design. Symmetry and asymmetry can both be used to create a good landscape composition. 

In symmetrical balance, you’re working to create a landscape that has two or more sides that are identical. 

Asymmetrical balance is more tricky, but you can make use of landscape composition to balance the design even if they’re not strictly identical. 


In executing a design, it’s important that every element is working together to form a cohesive landscape. Simply, this means every aspect of the design has to create a unified space. 

The colours, shapes, sizes, and textures of the plants and fixtures need to come together to create a great total design.

This also means that if you’re working with or to enhance architecture, your use of bed shapes, hardscapes, walkways and other special features has to work for that purpose.

Contrast and Harmony

If you want to highlight certain elements in a design, using contrast is a good guide. Harmony, meanwhile, will help your composition look unified.

If you put two contrasting elements together, that can serve to draw the viewer’s attention. A simple way to do this is by using complementary colours together.


When you create a landscape design, you’re working with nature and science both. It’s important to take note of the shapes and sizes of the elements in the design.

The proportionate size of the legs of the bench has to work with the walk width, arbour height, lawn area, tree size, and so on. This can help create balance and scale.

More Resources

Whether you’re working on a small backyard garden or a palace landscape, it’s important to note the basic principles of landscape design. Knowing these principles can help you create a more sustainable and functional landscape for you and others to enjoy.

Find more home renovation and construction resources for your dream home below: