Last time we went through the steps in designing a garden. This time we will look at some of the principles which will aid you in creating a dynamic yet seamless design.

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Sense of enclosure:

Particularly for inner city living, we want our gardens to give a sense of enclosure. We want to feel protected from the outside world, rather than exposed. This is largely done with trees, however you can also use climbers on a high wall to get this affect. Trees not only provide a physical boundary, they also filter the light which can take the harsh edge off being outside and soften the experience. when laying out your garden, consider the placement of your trees in terms of screening, sunshine but also how they will make the garden feel. Sometime the nicest effects are created by pulling trees into the garden and away from the boundary, so that they can provide a green umbrella for entertaining areas.

Line of sight:

This refers to the lines along which your eyes will naturally travel to from different points of the garden where you will frequent. This could be fron standing at the back door, the front gate, the outdoor dining area or even inside through a window. At the end or along these lines is often the best spot to place a feature or a specimen tree/plant, as it will feel like a very natural place to rest the eyes. Placing features at the end of a line of sight is also a good way to draw people into the garden or along a path.


Regulating lines:

Regulating lines are those that are projected out into the garden from major structures such as the house, garage, pool, large tree or other structure. We can use these line to help determine where other elements of the garden should go. For example, a pool edge could be aligned with the edge of the house so as to create a sense of order. Using regulating lines can stop a garden from feeling haphazard and awkward.


This is the idea that the visual weight on either side of a line, be it a line of sight, regulating line or a path, is equal. In a formal garden this is often seen with the use of symmetrical plantings, but you can also achieve balance asymmetrically. A cluster of 3 smaller objects or plants can balance 1 larger plant. Cooler colours and larger leaves carry more visual weight than warm colours and fine leaves. So a mass of bright orange wispy leaved flowers can be balanced by a hand full of dark, cool coloured plants. Ornaments can also be balanced with plantings of appropriate weight.

Colour and contrast:

Even in an all green garden there is a need for variation and contrast. For a garden to feel alive there has to be a sense of movement. Mixing cool colours that add depth to a garden, with warm colours that seem to be closer than they are, will make a garden far more pleasing to look at. Furthermore contrasting different foliage textures and plant forms, such as a rigid Buxus ball against a weeping maple, will provide year round interest in the garden.

Go for big:

When in doubt about deciding on the scale of a garden object always opt for the large. Have deeper garden beds, wider paths, larger growing trees, a taller pavilion or a larger fish pond. It will add a sense of luxuriousness and once all the other elements are established, they will feel bedded in and entirely appropriate.

Repeat plants:

Whether it is in a mass planting or scattered throughout the the garden, plants always look best in multiples. Even the most wild of cottage garden looks at its more glorious when there are multiple of the same flower in bloom at once. Again repetition stops a garden from feelign haphazard. The repeated us of larger plants can add a sense of rhythm to the garden. It is also a good practice to repeatedly use the same hard materials throughout the garden, such as paving, pots, fencing or other structures.

Following even a few of these principles will go a long way to ensuring your garden has year round interest and is enjoyable to be in.

At the Tree Shop we firmly believe our customers are capable of creating a garden they will love and we are here with the best stock and the right advice to help you create your dream garden.

Call or email us today to see how we can help you grow. Your Local Nursery in Surrey Hills Melbourne.