7 Landscape Elements: A Comprehensive Guide

The principles of landscape design are essential for creating a beautiful outdoor space without breaking the bank. Learn about unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis & sequence.

7 Landscape Elements: A Comprehensive Guide

The principles of landscape design are essential for creating a beautiful and functional outdoor space. Unity, scale, balance, simplicity, variety, emphasis, and sequence are the seven elements that apply to line, form, texture, and color. With the right amount of effort and creativity, you can transform your common outdoor space into something aesthetically pleasing without breaking the bank.


helps you decide how to add variety to your design.

Observe the texture of the plants and the materials in your design; they can be smooth, rough, or thick. Different textures add variety and diversity to your backyard. Even if you opt for calm, muted colors, incorporating different textures can keep things interesting. If you have difficulty combining colors, limit your options to two. When it comes to balance, think of it as weight.

By keeping balance in mind, you can be sure that your design has the right weight and looks symmetrical from every angle. Use color theory to help you decide what color works best for your space. Don't be afraid to experiment when it comes to mixing and matching colors. This applies not only to plants, but also to hard surfaces such as fences, retaining walls and pavers.


is achieved by bringing together plants with the same shape, scale, texture and color.

Shape is the shape of all the plants in your backyard landscape design. For example, you can achieve a formal look by adding spiral trees and trimmed hedges. If you're looking for an informal garden theme, you can always opt for a more natural aesthetic that is wild and overgrown.


are a powerful design element that can define rooms and connect people to the landscape. Use wide, eye-catching lines and curves instead of zigzags and small wavy curves.

Let your eyes flow from one section to another to outline soft areas and hard surfaces, creating special rooms and sections within your garden. The lines can be formed by ponds, walkways, flower gardens and borders.


is determined by the line, direction, and arrangement of trees, branches, and shrubs. You want to repeat the topography with cohesive plants and trees. They can be horizontal and extended shapes such as groundcovers; rounded shapes with shrubs and shrubs; profiled or vase-shaped trees that create a comfortable space under the canopy; tearful shapes that bring the view back to the ground; or pyramidal shapes that direct the view upwards.


can be defined as thick or thin, heavy or light, thin or dense and clear or with shade.

The texture changes with distance so what you see up close may be different from what you see at a distance. Seasonal gardening is all about texture. You want to know what texture and colors they will have during the different seasons and make sure you have enough plants that can help you throughout the seasons.


gives a great appeal and evokes a response. Colors can definitely create emotions such as red (passion/encouragement), yellow (joy/happiness), blue (imagination/calm), green (harmony/nature), orange (interaction/fun), purple (intuition/respect), white (purity/innocence), and pink (love/tenderness/sweetness).

In addition, warm and cold colors can also create different landscapes and stories.


evokes an emotional connection and is also related to color. Scale refers to the comparative value of the landscape element with a fixed structure such as a house, barn or path. The relative scale refers to the comparative sizes of landscape objects and can be closely related to color.


, also known as focal point or center of interest is used to attract attention in a certain area of your landscape design. You want the landscape to look cohesive as if all the plants, rocks and elements were meant to float together.

Sequence, also known as transition or movement is used when creating a story in your landscape design. You wanted to attract and maintain attention, and it all starts with the development of the story and the ultimate goal of what you're trying to achieve. Other principles not necessarily as important as the seven include mastery & subordination of certain elements within the landscape; simplicity & variety; seasonal gardening; warm & cold colors; formal & informal balance; lines & curves; shape & texture; color & scale; emphasis & sequence; unity & cohesion. Like works of art on canvas or printed in a magazine, landscape design uses these usual design composition tools which work together to transform an outdoor space into something beautiful.