A Well Balanced Landscape is Important
Updated: Nov 1
Well-balanced landscapes and their features represent the broader context in which we’re meant to live our lives, the natural elements which time and time again—study after study—are shown to enhance our sense of well-being. Most of us in California live a fast-past life, captors to the grind. Which is one of the many reasons it makes sense to have a well thought out landscape design. A backyard retreat with the thoughtful implementation of the elements provides a sense of comfort and an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye. It’s important because it contributes significantly to our quality of life. Balance is a principle of all art forms, design, and yes, even landscape design! While there’s more to it than can be summed up in a blog, let’s try.
In a landscape design, within and throughout the layout, features can be arranged in such a way as to illicit a sense of balance and rhythm that can greatly affect the style and purpose of your outdoor space. They’re not abstract concepts but the way in which components representing the elements are laid out can make all the difference in the world, each area flowing into the next, every component complimentary. The material types should be in accordance with each other: the rock, masonry, concrete, stone and even the bark should be well coordinated. Many times, a lack of balance is directly related to a lack of repetition. Repeating alike elements such as plants or rocks throughout the landscape will help unify different areas to each other. As little as one repeated matching plant group, color, piece of decor, or hardscape can accomplish this.
Jefferson Landscape and Design constantly tell our clients there’s also no such thing in nature as a straight line—leave the straight lines to the architecture, the wooden structures you decide to include. Landscape designs should be replete with curves and natural shapes and because one area flows into another makes balancing your project that much easier. A lack of balance can unfortunately be created by piecemealing a project, doing one section at a time without first doing a design. Don’t do that. There’s no flow to projects approached this way and when you go back to purchase materials you may find the rock you bought just two years ago has been discontinued for lack of access to a quarry. Finally, placing too many or all non-matching elements throughout a landscape design looks terrible, cluttered and unkempt and can make you feel uneasy. A good landscape design will flow together. Even if the total space is broken up and used for different purposes, it shouldn’t look that way. It should merge and be in sync, not “boxy” or “compartmentalized” which despite the best of efforts is nearly inevitable without first having a design—so have a professional, scaled plan done first. Once you have a design, it can be installed in stages so long as all the concrete is done at once, all the rock, and so on. It will still have the continuity and flow you want in order to accomplish your goal.
Even with a smaller budget you can select less expensive options from particular elements and still have a balanced representation. Plantings and trees of varying heights, textures and colors, plants that bloom at different times of the year with a combination of deciduous and evergreens carefully arranged in harmony; lighting, not overly used, but accent lighting properly placed; a proper proportion of hardscape where it serves the function of its use, from patios to destination areas to flagstone step stones; wooden structures in addition to your fencing: an arbor, a bench or even wooden chairs; a water feature (nothing is more natural than water), where the range can vary from a pond and/or waterfall to a birdbath or fountain; and finally for the evenings a fire pit, whether it’s something you buy at Costco or something built as a permanent structure, depending on your budget and the size of your space. The incorporation of these items in your landscape design will help to achieve a grace with a lasting beauty that only increases over time as the plants and trees grow.
In order to achieve balance in landscape designs, Jefferson Landscape and Design uses these guiding principles: proportion, order, repetition and unity. Proportion refers to the size of an object or the space a material or component takes up in relation to other objects in the landscape. For example, it's important to think about the proportion of softscapes and hardscapes. Order refers to the organization of a landscape. Order can be attained in your yard by using either the more formal symmetrical balance or a more natural informal asymmetrical balance. The goal of repetition is to create predictable and familiar patterns and sequences in the landscape. To achieve this, landscape design elements or specific features can be repeated throughout the space. In landscape design, unity refers to the perceived sense that everything is connected and works together to create the whole. Employing a design theme or style will help you achieve unity in your yard.