CIR536/MG086: Basic Principles of Landscape Design
Basic Principles of Landscape Design1
Dewayne L. Ingram2

Landscaping combines elements of art and science to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing extension of indoor living to the outdoors. One initial purpose of landscape design is to blend man's technology (house or building) into the natural surroundings. To work toward a desirable landscape design, the landscape horticulturist must have a working knowledge of art elements and design principles. This publication is intended for the commercial landscaper with little or no training in the use of these basic principles. This publication is not a complete landscape design text.

Elements of art include but are not limited to color, line, form, texture and scale. These elements are never independent of each other, but we will discuss their individual natures before considering the interactions.

Color variation can best be explained by use of a color wheel (Figure 1). Primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Orange, green and violet are called secondary colors because they are combinations of two primary colors. For example, yellow and red are combined to yield orange. Tertiary colors are the fusion of one primary and one secondary color. These colors would be between primary and secondary colors.

Tint refers to a light value and is accomplished by adding white to the pure color on the color wheel, while shade is a dark value and is created by adding black to the pure color on the color wheel. Black, white and grey are neutrals and are compatible with any color. Light colors and tints tend to attract attention as do bright, vivid colors.

Colors are combined into color schemes for practical applications. Three basic color schemes are monochromatic, analogous and complementary. A monochromatic color scheme consists of different tints and shades of one color and is seldom achieved in its pure form in the landscape. An example of an incomplete monochromatic color scheme would include white and pink flowers with a background of a dark pink and red brick house.

Analogous color schemes combine colors which are adjacent or side-by-side on the color wheel. An analogous color scheme could include green, blue-green, green-blue, blue and violet blue. This color scheme could be achieved by varying the foliage color from green to blue-green or by using pyracantha with orange-red berries against a red brick house.

Complementary color schemes combine colors directly across the color wheel. For example, red and green would be complementary colors. A complementary color scheme may be achieved by using plants with green foliage against a red brick house.

It is possible to have varying color schemes in one area of the landscape as the seasons change. White and pink azaleas flowers can yield a monochromatic color scheme with a red brick house. The green azalea foliage would produce a complementary color for the red brick during the summer. Pyracantha berries would be an analogous color to the red brick in the fall. The landscape designer should consider the color changes throughout the year when developing a landscape plan.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean.

Copyright 2008 University of Florida
Comments: 0