Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Design Examples

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To create a landscape that you will love, incorporating things you love is very important.

It is usually helpful to see specific examples of both good and bad design.  Pay attention when you are out strolling to elements that you find pleasing.  But also try to figure out why it appeals to you.  Is it the colors? plants? design?  Here a few pictures to get you started, with a little explanation about the principles applied.



The dominant design principle here is balance.  Although balance is often associated with a formal landscape, the balance here is not achieved with perfect symmetry, but rather with objects of similar physical size or visual “weight”.   The visual balance here lends some formality to the front of the property, but is still casual and inviting, and well suited to the style of the home.  Note that the entrance is visually open and visitors are drawn by the red door.


Out of BalanceThe landscaping here is completely out of balance.  Although there does not seem to be a lot of room to the left of the garage, there is enough room to add some visually weighty plants such as a tall narrow evergreen with smaller plants flowing out to the left as much as possible and down along the drive.  Perhaps this is a work in progress - the paint looks fresh and the existing plants are well placed and nicely pruned (including the street tree, which is pruned with a high clearance to expose view to the home).


Formal entry with asymmetrical balance, well placed evergreenBalance here is very formal but not symmetrical.  The landscaping is very simple and neatly pruned to combat what looks like a pretty “busy” surrounding of trees and slopes.  The home itself is also interesting enough with lots mullioned and shuttered windows and brick facade - the very simple landscaping does not compete with all that.  The tall evergreen past the sidewalk is perfectly placed.  Without it there would be a feeling of dropping off, and the evergreen stops the eye from wandering past the entry area.


Out of BalanceThe street planting here is lovely.  But the house seems completely unattached to the property, seeming to float above the landscaping.  The house needs to be anchored with foundation plantings and unified with the street plantings.  This can be accomplished by repeating some plants already used in the foundation design.  The ornamental tree is unfortunately placed right in front of the front door. The crown of the tree should be thinned somewhat and the front door perhaps painted a bright and inviting color - perhaps using one of the pinks of the border plants.


elements unifiedThis tropical garden will hardly be found in the midwest, but is so beautifully displays important design elements it had to be included here.  First, seemingly unrelated plant and accent pieces are unified with a very simple low border hedge.  Then, the elements are joined by flowing stepping stones, leading you along to appreciate each and every accent. The path and the border plantings are flowing curves, the accents punctuated by the angular hedge.


gorgeous design -  back patitoThis one is just plain gorgeous, wouldn’t you love to be relaxing with a book on this patio?  It might be a bit busy to suit everyone, but it accomplished some very difficult things.  First, the large plantings have provided a lot of privacy for this back patio.  Rather than hiding and overwhelming the space, anyone entering the backyard is clearly drawn to a cozy “room”.  The planting beds create a flowing path of lawn drawing visitors into the “room”.  The planting beds are full and lush, helping to balance the foundation with the large evergreens.  Nicely done!


backyard geometric shapesRectangles are nicely repeated through this backyard landscape, lending a somewhat formal appearance.  Areas are joined by pathways and linear elements, separation of the geometric areas softened with plants.  The living “curve” in the center island is a wonderful accent, very clever!


Landscape breaking up lawn

A very large expanse of lawn is nicely broken up with trees and planting beds of shrubs and perennials.  Large sweeping curves are repeated.


Repetition of circles

A pleasing combination of curves and angles, the theme of circles is repeated with paver edging and in plant shapes.  The circles are balanced with the rectangular shape of the screens and accented with spiky plants.

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