Whether you plan to “borrow ideas” or plan on creating your own landscaping design, you should have at the very least a basic understanding of the principles of landscape design.
Don’t feel that you have to apply every principle to every part of your plan. Just having an understanding of these principles can help you generate ideas and increase your creativity.
Great landscaping lies in the eyes of the its creator. So, while the principles of landscape design are great guidelines to follow, don’t feel like they’re the “have to rules” of landscaping. Abstract and creativity are allowed.
Unity should be one of your main goals in your design. It may be better understood and applied as consistency and repetition. Repetition creates unity by repeating alike elements like plants, plant groups, or decor throughout the landscape. Consistency creates unity in the sense that some or all of the different elements of the landscape fit together to create a whole.
Unity can be created by the consistency of character of elements in the design. By character, I mean the size, height, texture, color schemes, etc. of different elements.
A good example would be in the use of accent rocks and boulders. If you’ve ever seen a landscape design that had several different colors and sizes of boulders, then you’ve seen that unity wasn’t created by this particular element.
This is just one example but the principle applies to all other elements such as groups of plants and materials.
A simple way to create unity in your landscape is by creating theme gardens. Creating a theme garden is easier when it’s related to something you’re interested in or have a passion for.
If you’re interested in butterflies for instance, you could create a theme using plants that attract butterflies as well as using statues, ornaments, and other decor that are related to butterflies.
Unity should be expressed through at least one element in your landscape and preferably more. Using elements to express a main idea through consistent style and a specific theme is what creates harmony.
Simplicity is actually one of the principles in design and art. It’s one of the best guidelines you can follow as a beginner or do it yourselfer. Just keep things simple to begin with. You can do more later.
Simplicity in planting, for instance, would be to pick two or three colors and repeat them throughout the garden or landscape. Keeping decor to a minimum and within a specific theme as well as keeping hardscapes such as boulders consistent is also practicing simplicity.
Balance in design is just as the word implies. A sense of equality. There are basically two types of balance in landscape design. Symmetrical and Asymmetrical.