Basic Principles of Landscape Design

There are several economic, environmental, health, and social benefits of a properly executed landscaping plan. It is estimated that when appropriately done, landscaping can increase the resale value of a property by up to 14%. Here are some basic landscape design principles you must know before beginning on a landscaping project in Sonoma County according to the expert landscapers at Gardenworks Inc.


To create an awe-inspiring landscape, you need to repeat similar elements such as plants and decor. It’s crucial to maintain consistency throughout the landscape design process. Come up with a plan to fit different elements of your landscape together to create a common, consistent theme.  Even if phasing a project over time, keeping and repeating elements through out areas and phases will make the landscape look as though it was all done at the same time.

Contrast and Harmony

Contrast in landscaping means highlighting different elements in a design. Contrasting elements draw the eye. You also need to come up with a plan to harmonize different elements in your landscape composition, making them look unified. Contrast and harmony can be achieved by juxtaposing complementary colors and different elements.  Planting complementary colored flowering perennials such as Echinacea, Achillea, and Limoniumin groupings create a pleasing contrast and add punch to an area.

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When working on your landscape design, think of ways to create balance (a sense of equality). There are two types of balance — symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance.

Symmetrical balance is usually used in formal landscapes with identical sides (ex. duplicating the same plants equally on two sides of a path). This type of balance looks rigid. Asymmetrical balance or informal balance, on the other hand, appears to be free-flowing (ex. using odd numbers of plants but repeated in and out of a sequence).

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Repetition and unity are linked. Repeating the same elements will give personality to your design. Avoid using too many unrelated objects as they can make your design look cluttered. Do not overuse a particular element as it can make your design look and feel monotonous and boring.

Rhythm and Line 

To establish a rhythm in your landscape design, you need to repeat plants, benches, or lamp posts at standard intervals. Lines are created by the shape and form of sidewalks and planting beds. These two design principles give a landscape a sense of movement.


Ensuring that all the elements in a landscape design have proper proportions cannot be emphasized enough. When designing your landscape, examine relationships between different features and plan accordingly.


A good landscape design is free of fuss and clutter. Keep your landscape design as simple as possible. It is worth mentioning here that in landscaping, simplicity is not the opposite of complexity.

Just because a landscape design has complex design elements (such as lighting features and water features) and an intricate architectural design does not mean it is not worth considering. Gardenworks Inc. offers top-notch landscape design with installation services in Sonoma County. Our landscaping experts have dedicated their careers to developing an in-depth understanding of landscaping principles. To discuss your project, call us at (707) 857-2050.