Balance is a principle of all art forms, design, and even landscape design. It implies a sense of equality. And while there may be just a little more to it, this is how I explain it to make it easier for first timers and ‘do it yourselfers’ to understand.
A garden, landscape, or any form of equal proportions would naturally feel and look balanced. However, most gardens and landscapes are not exact or symmetrical in shape and form. They’re asymmetrical and abstract in form and are often without any natural balance of their own. So landscaping often relies on other elements to create balance and harmony through unity.
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.
A lack of balance is also created by placing too many or all non matching elements throughout a landscape design. This can sometimes seem cluttered and unkept when it grows in. In the beginning of your design, plan for less, place just a few matching plant groups throughout the garden, and keep decor matching and to a minimum. You can add more later.
So many of the questions that I receive about landscape design deal with the shape of a design . Shape is unique to each design and will ultimately follow all necessary paths and your visions. However, any shape or form can be filled with elements and still be either dull, void, loud, cluttered, and unbalanced. Balance isn’t necessarily dependant on shape. It can be but generally it’s not. So don’t get too hung up on trying to even things out entirely by shape.
Landscape design is an art form and so it deals with “all” the same principles that other art forms use. Repetition, unity, and balance are all principles of art that go hand in hand with each other.
Architects use repetition in design by making doors, windows, fixtures, trims, etc. the same sizes, shapes, and styles. Imagine how your home would feel if every door, door frame, window, and fixture were of different sizes, shapes, colors, and types. It would be uncomfortable and chaotic.
And so it’s the same with landscape design.
In order to create balance, appeal, and even comfort in a landscape that is lacking, we need to create some form of consistent repetition. As little as one matching element placed on opposites can create a sense of unity and consistency.
It’s easiest and most often created in the softscape (plants, ornaments, lawn, decor, etc.). However, it should be considered in the hardscape (walks, driveways, necessities, fences, walls, raised beds, boundaries, etc.) of your drawn design plan.