Principles of Composition applied in Garden Design

In our previous post, we delved into the essential principles of composition that graphic designers use to create visually captivating designs. Now, let’s transition from the world of graphic design to the realm of garden design, where we’ll explore the crucial principle of proportion. Understanding and applying proportion in garden design can transform your outdoor space into a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing haven.

Proportion, in the context of garden design, is the art of arranging various elements within your garden in a way that ensures they complement each other harmoniously. Just like in graphic design, where balance is crucial for a compelling visual story, proportion plays a similar role in creating a visually appealing and stable garden.

Each element in your garden possesses its own unique visual weight. Trees, shrubs, flower beds, benches, and pergolas – all contribute to the overall composition (the above photo will help as an example, I’ve done it using cut-out paper elements).

Achieving proportion involves carefully placing these elements throughout your garden, considering their visual weight, size, and form:

Start by dividing your garden into sections, either mentally or physically. Imagine an invisible scale running down the middle. If the elements on one side outweigh those on the other, it can result in visual discomfort, making your garden less attractive and potentially confusing.

I’ve introduced a black thread as our ground and established a centerline using a blue thread to divide our garden into two halves, similar to a mirror image in an elevation plan. This visual division serves as our guide for positioning elements to achieve formal balance.

Starting with the house on the far left, I strategically place each element, carefully considering their visual mass and proportion to maintain balance and harmony in our paper garden being mindful of their visual weight and mass. Balancing the left and right sides to create a sense of equilibrium, just like a perfectly balanced seesaw:

I start positioning the focal point directly up the middle of the garden, proportionally along with that, I place the tallest tree: the trunk will not hide the focal point, and its height also helps to divide the space, inducing the sensation of balanced composition that I desire.

The house is the hefty element in the garden, I place next to it one tree cluster with lighter foliage, darker colours tend to create visual weight and I do not want to make this area heavier.

I include one pond relatively centrally and some medium-sized shrubs around it so that it doesn’t look like a puddle.

Still looking to balance the weight of the house, A pergola directly on the opposite side should do the job. However, due to the pergola’s open structure, it is still a smaller mass in comparison, for this, I included a bench and another cluster of trees, which will also provide shade for the seating area.

Hope this silly example helps you to understand and apply the principle of proportion in your own garden design and provides a sense of stability and unity. 🙂