Elements of a Successful Garden Design

landscape design layout

It’s true that no two lots are ever the same. But the principles of landscape design are universal and can be applied to projects of all shapes, sizes, and budgets. 

Main principles of landscape design

Simplicity, variety, balance, emphasis, sequence, scale, and unity: the seven principles of landscape design. When speaking generally, no one of these principles is more important or effective than the others. However, your project should be evaluated on an individual basis so you can decide which concepts to focus on for the most significant impact. 

Take this Wellington landscape transformation for example. 

Simplicity: the homeowner wanted an uncluttered design that was easy to maintain. No extraneous embellishments.

Variety: they also loved gardening, so including a variety of plants was not only beautiful, but functional as well. 

Balance: heights, colours, and materials were all carefully curated to strike a balanced design. 

Emphasis: a tall fence with mulch perimeter defines the landscape.

Sequence: the tiered garden allows for a smooth transition between lower main garden and street-level front yard. 

Scale: plants with different maturation dates create a fluid scale that can ebb and flow over time.

Unity: each element, although unique, works together in a unified, cohesive landscape.

Planning a landscaping project in Wellington

Aside from using the main principles to guide your landscaping project, you of course need to consider regional nuances too! Wellington is known for its unrelenting wind, unbeatable sunny days, tricky soils, and steep plots of land. Accommodating all of these factors can be challenging without the help of an experienced professional, but here are a few pro-tips:

Seasonal planting and climate considerations

Instead of fighting nature, include seasonal plants in your plans so something is always in bloom. Native plants are the perfect choice for this approach as they are sure to thrive all year round. 

Kowhai’s vibrant yellow flowers bloom in the spring, a bonus for bird lovers: tūīs love them! Of course the New Zealand Christmas tree (pōhutukawa) shows out in the summer months, toetoe’s feathery seed heads in autumn, and kahikatea are evergreen!

Working with steep slopes

Extra permits, excavation equipment, and difficult site access make levelling a landscape quite costly and time-consuming. However, retaining walls and tiered gardens are just two ways you can still fully utilise a steep or sloped landscape without taking on a significant excavation.

Creating sheltered spaces

Overexposure to the elements can ruin an otherwise fantastic landscape design, especially here in New Zealand’s Windy City. But there are plenty of ways to protect your landscape so you can fully enjoy your space. Strategically placed structures like pergolas, fences, and other architectural features are known as windbreaks and will help reduce the effects of high winds. Wind-permeable fences and hardy hedges like griselinia are effective as well. 

house landscape design

Landscaping inspiration and common themes

While both are required for a truly successful landscape, designs often prioritise either form or function. That’s not to say the other is sacrificed, but homeowners usually find one more important. For example, an edible garden can be beautiful, but the ultimate purpose is function. The same goes for xeriscaping and low maintenance landscapes. They’re popular for their aesthetic, but more so because they can be maintained with little effort. 

On the other hand, minimalist gardens are typically low maintenance too, but they're most loved for their sleek lines and simple yet elegant aesthetic. Where form and function truly converge, are outdoor living areas. To ensure an outdoor living space works as well as, if not better than, its interior counterpart, the design must strike the perfect balance between form and function. 

Design the perfect landscape with Zones

Do you have your own idea of what a great landscape design looks like? We’d love to hear it! Get in touch with one of our expert Landscaping Consultants at Zones Wellington to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.

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