The 5 Key Parts of a Landscape Design Plan

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated May 9, 2022
luxury home with beautiful landscape design
Photo: bmak/ Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • The five key parts of a landscape design are line, color, texture, form, and scale. 

  • Color can come from plants, rocks, wood, ceramic pots, and more. 

  • The texture is just as important as color when choosing plants and other landscaping materials. 

  • Scale considers the size of plants now and years into the future as they grow.

  • Scale also looks at the design in relation to the amount of space in the yard.

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Sprucing up your flower beds for spring is a wonderful way to get your garden blooming. However, if you’re ready to take the next big step to boost your curb appeal, you may be wondering how landscape design works. Find out how the key parts of a landscape design help you reimagine your outdoor space.

Lines

Lines are the backbone of any landscape design. Whether straight or curved, horizontal or vertical—they serve to create zones and guide the eye toward focal points. Lines allow room for plants to group together in harmony and create transitions between spaces. 

Curved lines convey movement and mimic the surrounding natural environment's shapes, such as distant foothills or nearby riverbanks. You’ll notice these curvy lines in meandering stepping stone paths or an undulating scape of prairie grasses

The placement of plants and hardscaping alike, including hedges, fences, and arbors, can take advantage of vertical lines to create an illusion of height.

Straight lines—such as those used in stonework, brickwork, and sidewalks—can direct the eye toward focal points.

Color 

There are plenty of tricks for adding color to your landscape, and with all that variety, it takes a keen eye to create the right balance and harmony. 

Choosing plants is tricky; not only are your decisions based on appearance, but you must also consider growing conditions, like sunlight and temperature. 

The use of color repetition throughout a space is a well-known designer secret, but if one corner of the yard is full of sun and the other side is full of shade, landscape designers must get creative with their use of color. 

Hardscaping, including rocks, sculptures, and colorful pots, can be used with complementary plants to achieve a balanced look. A good landscape design plan also considers the colors of the home and other existing structures.

Texture

home with different plants in backyard landscape
Photo: Iriana Shiyan/ Adobe Stock

Have you ever felt like you’ve chosen all the right plants and placed them in your garden beds, only to feel like something was still missing? You may have overlooked texture. 

The texture of a plant is just as important as color. Textures can be rough, smooth, or in between; plants can be velvety or shiny and soft or spiny. Take into account the textures of all the materials, such as plants, stonework, woodwork, decorative items, and the materials of your home. 

Form

Form involves the shapes in a landscape design, whether you’re dealing with individual shapes of plants or the forms that plants create together. Forms can create a structured look, such as those in a formal garden. Sometimes, the placement of specific forms, like trees or a pagoda, can anchor the entire design. Hardscaping forms are used in design to complement plant materials and vice versa.

Scale

Simply put, scale is about proportion. Plants and structures should be in proportion with one another and the space. 

While this may seem straightforward, landscape design must account for the growth of plants over the years. Designing a beautiful view also involves considering what the view will look like in five years, 10 years, and 25 years. 

Understanding how plants spread, grow, and interact with one another is critical to getting the scale right in landscape design. This is one of the many reasons you need landscape design plans before you begin planting. If you’d like to leave the design work to a pro, call a local landscape designer who can transform your yard.

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