Principles of Design

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Follow these five rules and get impressive results. These principles will help you plan a new garden thoughtfully or rethink what you have done. As gardens grow and mature sometimes the original planning needs a change. Here are the five basic rules of design:

1. Provide a path for the eye

A path guides the eye into the inner sanctums of the garden. Not simply the shortest route from a to b, rather it should lead not just somewhere but the further the better! Japanese gardeners often have tortuous paths as they are meant to slow you down on your journey so you notice your surroundings. Paths give structure and focus to a garden. The path is always the beginning of the journey.

2. Build a background

Once the eye has followed a path to its end and is free to be unleashed it needs some guidance. The background helps by obscuring what might be objectionable and distracting, for example, a telephone pole, hanging wires, an old tool shed or a neighbours messy yard. The background (fence or foliage) is not what you should be looking at, rather it should be plain enough to draw the eye to the more important features in the garden such as the fish pond or the roses. Shrubs by themselves make the best background but if a fence is needed, soften the rigidity with a few shrubs. Another point is to weave the background in so it doesn?t box in your garden. Use photos of your garden and write on the photo bushes etc to hide what you want.

3. Find a focal point

The final resting place for your eye is the focal point. It should be interesting and fairly obvious. A focal point should beckon from the depths of the garden but not compete with lesser focal points, which could be paths leading to your main focal point.

4. Control colour

Pretty flowers are hard to say no to. The possibility of a garden with explosions of colour is available only if one has the proper background and no one colour dominates. Gardeners have found that there are two groups of colour- those which are collared red through blue and the second group collared yellow through orange. There is a trick though- the reds must be pure or tinged with blue. If there is a hint of yellow or orange, the reds jump groups. Pink is the used most in the reds. The red-blues are pleasing because they are the cool, comfortable colours. They tend to shine under overcast skies. The yellow-oranges are hot colours and tend to be more difficult and work best in hot summers or as accent points in an otherwise red-blue garden. Whatever the choice realize it takes years to get the right scheme. It is even more important for smaller gardens as colour is often the biggest part of garden planning.

5. Add texture

This is all the rest whether a few rocks and pebbles tucked here and there, to strategically angled benches settled on a stone walkway. Texture is often left to the last. Patios are often done after the paths and main garden is in so the best view can be ascertained. Nothing can break a garden quicker than if it is overloaded with man made materials. Try to keep to one aggregate such as flagstone and don?t mix it with cement. With plants though, I always say the more the merrier. Go out of your way to find different textures, shine and shapes of leaves. The garden never ends and is always evolving, so enjoy now as the project is never finished. Happy gardening.