Design Basics

What do you want your garden to look like? How will you use your front garden? And what do you have to work with, views, slope, existing trees, etc. These are all questions you need to know to create a beautiful and functional garden.


For the best garden design remember form follows function. What this means to you and your design is that the functional needs for the space must be included in your design. So if you normally walk across your lawn and go through a side gate then this function needs to be planned into your design. No matter how pretty your front yard looks, you will never be entirely happy if you cannot get around the plants you put in. Use the information you collected in your site evaluation and needs analysis to shape your design.

Garden Design

Garden design can be looked at on 3 different levels:
  • Design elements
  • Design principles
  • Garden styles

Design Elements & Principles

Design elements are the basic visual components of any design. Most sources list these elements as:
  • Color
  • Form/Volume
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Space
  • Texture
Design Principles can also be thought of as rules for working with design elements. Some design principles are balance, contrast, pattern, proportion and emphasis. Do you want a symmetrical or asymmetrical design (balance)? Do you want to use contrasting or harmonious flower colors in your design? Visit the links below to learn how design principles can help you design your front garden:

Garden Styles

From design elements and principles, designers have created different garden styles such as Japanese, Formal, Cottage and Modern (for more styles see Garden Design Style - Landscaping Network). These garden styles incorporate design elements and principles in their creation. Using a specific garden style for your design will allow you to use design elements and principles without years of design experience.