Home PROSPER Understanding the Basics of Landscaping

Understanding the Basics of Landscaping

by Heather Reynolds

More than creativity, landscaping requires knowledge in terms of the different elements and principles that govern them. This is basically important to ensure that your landscaped design possesses beauty, symmetry, and harmony—making your garden or your yard simply astonishing to look at.


There are actually five elements that any landscaper must know when it comes to landscaping design. These include form, line, color, scale, and texture.

An object is said to have a form when it has a shape and a structure. When we talk about landscaping, it refers to the contours of a tree or the structure of the branches. Usually, forms of shrubs are indicated by their growth, trees by their branches.

It is the line that directs the movements of the eyes. Lines, in landscaping, guide viewers what areas they must look at. A landscaper must be able to take advantage of this element since it is this that captures a person’s attention to a particular design, object, or space. It is also the line that helps people notice the unrelated items in your design that create imbalance.

The power of color lies in its ability to convey varying emotions, personalities, and moods of your landscape. So far, there are three properties that govern colors. These include value, hue, and intensity. When we speak of value, we refer to the brightness of an object. Hues stress the color’s strength while intensity marks the dullness or the brightness of an element.

The relationship between the overall environment and a specific item is measured through scaling. Landscaping design employs scaling in order to identify and infer the interrelationship of adjacent elements.

The quality of the surface of an object is referred to as texture and is identified by the way we feel when we touch an object. Almost all elements in landscaping design have varying and sometimes distinct texture. The smoothness of a rock, the roughness of a tree bark, the shiny surface of a leaf—everything determines what texture is.


Along with these elements are the different principles that govern any landscaping design. Unity means developing a central theme in your design that can promote symmetry and relatedness among all elements present in your garden. Balance, on the other hand, defines the quality or the sense of visual symmetry in an asymmetrical area.

Proportion defines the relationship whether between the different elements present in a design or between objects to the overall all landscaping design. For example, a large tree may not be proportional to a small garden, but it will be if planted in a park. Emphasis, sometimes called focalization, aids the eyes to a prominent area in your landscape. A massive architectural structure in your backyard, for one, can already create emphasis. Sequence, meanwhile, dictates the flow of your landscaped design. The progression of size, color, and form, albeit gradual, can already control the principle of transition. This may consist of planting rows of trees with leaves whose texture ranges from coarse to simply smooth.

Like a beat that carries away a person to wide array of different emotions and movements, rhythm in landscaping guides a person’s eye to the different parts of the design. Repetition in terms of texture, shape, scheme, form, or line produces rhythm. If implemented properly, rhythm can remove the monotony as well as confusion in your landscaping design.

Hopefully, with all these knowledge and theories guiding you in your landscaping plan, you can come up with something that will practically serve the purpose of your design: to create an effective visual impact to the viewers. If that doesn’t help you well perhaps consider hiring a Pro! Chances are they would be terrible at your job! Ha Ha!

Question: Jimmie, I know “landscaping” refers to plants, fences, and the like. But is there a core idea behind landscaping and landscape design? Thank you for your time, my wife and I make it a point to read all your columns and we find them very informative. – Richard B. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Richard! Landscaping novices and buyers of new homes can profit from a practical, working definition of “landscaping.” By definition, to be properly said to be “landscaping” a property, you must be making home improvements on that property’s grounds — either in a practical or in an aesthetic way. In an extended sense, everything on your property that stands outside of the home itself is part of a property’s landscaping. Simply put, if you can see an object, then it is affecting the overall aesthetics of the grounds of a property — i.e., its landscaping!

Question: Jimmie, I don’t have a lot of time to maintain a landscape design, so I’m going to plant perennials rather than annuals. After all, they come up every year, right? Is this a sound strategy for beginners at landscape design? – Melanie P. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Melanie! Since perennials come up every year, beginners sometimes wonder if they don’t require care. Could perennials be the easy answer for the on-the-go crowd that still wants to grow plants? Not really. Perennials do require care. If you choose to grow perennials, choose perennials for the right reasons — and labor savings is not one of them! It is not even true that perennials are guaranteed to come up every year. If they are not maintained properly, you can very easily lose some perennials. Don’t think perennials are the beginner’s “easy way out”! And keep in mind, most great landscapes have perennials very strategically placed among either Annuals or Evergreen plants or you will have a big mass of nothing all winter. Perennials are great hen used correctly in a design!

Until next time…Happy Gardening!!


Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or jimmie@absolutelybushed.com  Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

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