Landscape Horticulture and its 5 Design Elements

If you love watching picturesque landscapes, then you’re at the right place. This post will give you all there is to know about Landscape Horticulture. Even though we spend most of our time indoors, we are drawn outside by the lush green sights of nature. Whether you have a small backyard or an entire lawn, landscape horticulture will make you never want to go indoors again.

There’s nothing more relaxing and refreshing than green grass, colourful and fragrant flowers, birds chirping in the background and the sunshine. Grassshrubsvines and nursery plants are the most popular plants for Landscape horticulture. There are so many options to choose from while planning your garden landscape. The endless combinations of colours, textures and aromas will help you create the garden you always wanted! So, let’s find out how to increase your curb appeal and get the neighbours talking.

Landscape Horticulture

Landscaping has been practiced throughout history for hundreds of years. Planning is the most vital phase before starting with laying out and construction of structures. Landscape Horticulture consists of two major elements, Softscape and Hardscape. Softscape elements are the living elements like plantsgrass and shrubs. Whereas, hardscape elements make up the non-living elements like patiosornamentswater fountainsponds, stonework and bridges. Each element has a unique purpose for creating the desired ambience and aesthetics.

Sustainable Landscape Horticulture

Finding the perfect balance between a sustainable, low-maintenance lawn and a feature-rich landscape can be challenging. A sustainable landscape saves water and is very practical and cost-effective. Such landscapes usually produce minimal waste and don’t need much attention. Thus, they have a low environmental footprint and are eco-friendly. Mother nature works its wonders to maintain these landscapes. The regional climate and weather conditions take care of sustainable landscapes.

However, most people want to add unique features for a modern landscape. Barbequesoutdoor kitchens and swimming pools with seating areas are the most popular features. On the other hand, some landscapes are designed to give tropical vibes by adding unique plants and décor. Although this may be appealing to many, it’s important to consider your regional climate before opting for such landscapes. Otherwise, you will find the landscape maintenance pile up on your wallet and the environment.

Combining plants with brick, stone, wood and other construction materials enhances landscapes. Besides designs, landscape horticulture helps create privacy, reduce noise and excess heat and provide a sense of security.

Sustainable Landscape Horticulture is very important for the environment

Horticulture and the Landscaping Process

Horticulture Landscaping involves art and science on a whole new level. Landscape horticulturists have extensive knowledge of the principles and elements of landscape design. The landscaping process consists of a planning phase to finalize the design and the construction phase.

Detailed planning is vital before starting with the construction. After all, you don’t want to regret creating a garden that doesn’t meet your needs. So, let’s look at some of the design elements to start planning.

Landscape Horticulture Design Elements


Colour is the element that can bring a dull and boring garden to life. Learning how colour complements the colours of other basic elements is vital. Colours may be either cool or warm. Cool colours include blue, violet and green and tend to create a relaxing environment. Whereas, warm colours like red and yellow demand attention and bring excitement. They can be used to highlight features like fountains, trees, sculptures and ornaments.

Most landscapes use only one of the colour groups to create unity and harmony. However, warm and cool colours can also be combined for contrast and depth. Having warm colours up front and cool colours in the background creates visual depth. Neutral colours like white, grey or shades of brown can also be used to tone down other colours.

Colour sets the moode of the Landscape

Besides setting the mood, colours also attract local wildlife and birds. Make sure to choose colours that unite the landscape with your home. Although it is easy to choose colours for hardscape elements. It may not be the same case for softscape like plants and flowers. Because different plants have varying bloom periods and foliage changes colours with seasons. So, make sure that your garden has enough seasonal variety all year round.


The line often refers to the structures that regulate the viewers eye movement. This is achieved by arranging plants and their borders to create a flow or transition. Patio or deck boundaries and the edges of flower beds or walkways act as a line.

You may be wondering how a line unconsciously influences your eye movement. Most landscapes highlight objects by controlling movement and drawing attention to a focal point like a fire pit or ornaments. People are usually drawn to focal points via walkways with direct access. On the other hand, a curved or twisted walkway adds an element of surprise.

Line regulates the viewers eye movement

The plants either fit in or flow as a single unit both horizontally and vertically. Thus, flow of a garden is heavily impacted by lines. Moreover, the lines also determine the type of garden. A formal garden features straight lines, good symmetry and geometry. Whereas, an informal one will have curved or naturally flowing lines and has fewer restrictions on symmetry.

Horizontal lines create an illusion of a bigger space. Walkways, hedges and walls are the most common element for horizontal lines. These lines make the eye movements follow the ground. In contrast, vertical lines appeal to eye movements above the ground. And this makes a space feel larger than it is. Tall and narrow trees, poles and arbors are also used to add vertical lines.


Form is the shape and structure of a plant and its branches. Plants come in a wide variety of forms like round, upright, droopy, columnar and globular. Various elements such as branches or leaves of a plant need to be considered before landscaping. These elements may have different forms based on the plants selected. In other words, the leaves of two different plants can have different forms.

Form is the shape and structure of a plant and its branches

The landscape design theme influences the choice of forms. For instance, neatly pruned hedges are an integral part of formal gardens. Whereas, informal gardens can have plants growing naturally without much restrictions on form.

Round plants can be combined with curved lines for a natural flow. On the other hand, upright plants can be used for straight lines like a walkway or edge. Moreover, these plants may also be combined to change forms as a group. In fact, some forms may blend in when these plants are grouped together.


Texture is the feature of surfaces like plantstreesstone or any other softscape or hardscape element. And it usually refers to the coarse, medium, fine, rough or smooth features of elements. Creatively using contrasting textures makes a landscape truly unique and attractive. Mastering the skill of combining textures is vital for a remarkable landscape. That’s where an experienced landscape architect can help you out. Always remember, it’s better to consult a professional for landscaping that you will enjoy for years to come.

Softscape elements of a plant like leaves, branches, bark and flowers have different textures. Make sure to have enough variety of textures in your garden. Plant textures are perceived relative to the objects surrounding it. Varying features of two or more plants determine the relative texture of a plant. In other words, a plant may be considered as coarse or fine relative to its surrounding plants.

Texture is the feature of surfaces like plants, trees, stone or any other softscape or hardscape element.


Scale is a relative measurement unit that provides the relation between elements in and around a garden. It’s important to consider the available space and size of your home before choosing the perfect scale. After all, your choice of size should be suitable for the entire setting.

Now that we know all about landscape horticulture elements, let’s get planning.

Set your budget

First, let’s start by setting the budget. The most common mistake people make is setting the budget wrong. It’s important to consider the cost of plants, trees, soil, construction materials and rental equipment. Studies suggest that your budget should be around 10% of your home’s value. However, creating a sustainable landscape can help reduce maintenance costs.

List down your wants and needs

Now, make a list of things that you really need. Do you want to grow fruits and vegetables? Does your dog need space to run around? Would your like to host barbeques with friends and family? Whether you need a place to relax or for the kids to play, listing needs is necessary. Think about how you intend to use the space. Make some rough sketches with all your needs in place.

Get planning

After our basic needs are covered, we can move to the wants. These are additional features that make a garden more attractive. This can include anything from a swimming pool to an outdoor kitchen with fire pits and additional seating areas. Besides a kitchen, an outdoor bar is a good addition to entertain guests. Consider adding a greenhouse with raised beds to grow more fruits and vegetables.

Once you’ve got your wants and needs listed down, it’s easy to decide what’s important for you. Prioritizing your needs by considering the budget is crucial.

Finding the Perfect Location

Now that we know our needs, it’s time to find the perfect location for the elements. Wind flow and sunlight are the main factors to consider. With this in mind, the landscape should be designed considering the sun and wind throughout the day. These factors can also change with seasons. Hence, finding the perfect location for your landscaping elements is crucial.

Finding the Perfect Location

Common mistakes made by beginners are placing a fire pit at a windy spot or seating areas at a hot and sunny spot. Some trees need lot of sunlight. So, finding the sunniest spot for these trees is vital. For an ideal place to relax, the seating areas must be sheltered from the day’s heat. Trees and hedges can be used to hinder direct winds. On the other hand, you will need a spot for soaking in the sun’s warmth during winter.

Spend some time in your lawn with a different seating spot each time. This will help you find seating areas that you may never have thought of before. Moreover, it also helps to find focal points and the best spots for your plants, trees and hardscape elements. Meanwhile, the elements will start blending in and creating a sense of unity and harmony. How these elements interact with your home enhances viewers experience.

One Step at a Time

Unless you have a team of experts, landscaping is meant to be a slow process. The best way is to start small with a few plants and enjoy every moment. Take your time to design the landscape you always wanted. After all, you don’t want to be rushing to create a landscape without thinking long term.

Start with the most essential elements and ensure that it’s easy to move them around initially. For example, you may want to move flowers from inside your home to the outside. Or move the fruits and vegetable plants to a spot away from pests. When you finally find the perfect spot, there’s no need to move around anymore.

Selecting plants

Choosing the right plants for your landscape is a very crucial step. Considering your regional weather and climatic conditions, some plants may thrive while others may not. That is exactly why it is important to opt for the local plants. This makes your landscape more practical and sustainable. On the other hand, a landscape with non-regional plants will have a higher maintenance cost. Different plants may have varying watering and sunlight needs. Consider all these factors while choosing plants.

Creating Focal points

A good landscape features a series of focal points like statues, ornaments, water features or unique plants. Focal points guide the viewers through the landscape and its amazing features. Symmetry of the surrounding elements is important for creating focal points. Certain areas of the landscape can be highlighted with these points. Water fountains are one of the best options as they grab attention with motion, sounds and lighting too. Ensure that the surrounding elements are subtle and do not draw much attention.

Create some focal points

Scale and Proportion

Scale and proportion ensure that a landscape has unity and harmony. Understanding size and scale is the most common mistakes made by beginners. It’s important to know that there will always be variations in sizes and shapes of elements. This can be with both softscape and hardscape elements.

There needs to be a perfect balance between new elements and repetition. Too much repetition gives unity. But a few new elements scattered throughout is better than having a lot of variation. Large shrubs or trees can get the better of a landscape. Likewise, an oversized patio or deck can make a yard look smaller than it is. That is exactly why it is very important to consider scale while landscaping.

Proportion on the other hand, is the consistency of the elements or groups with the entire landscape. While proportion is very similar to scale, it tells us whether an element fits in with its surroundings. In other words, it’s a relative term that determines if an object is in proportion with the landscape elements.

Scale and Proportion

Landscapes with sudden or no transitions are considered out of proportion. For example, a six-foot wall seems appropriate and in proportion for a large home. Whereas, this wall will make a small home look smaller than it is. This is because of a lack of transition between the wall’s height and its distance from the house. Hence, its important to have a gradual transition among the elements.

Embrace Change

At last, an important consideration in landscaping is to be open to changes. While hardscape elements may not be changed often. The same is not true for softscape elements. This is because plants change with seasons. Over the years, you may notice that nothing stays the same. And that is very true for your landscape.

With use, you may decide that some elements need to be changed. For example, you may replace high maintenance plants with something more practical and lighter on your wallet. Or your patio and seating areas are too small to accommodate guests. It’s normal for your likes and dislikes to change with time. And trying out new elements is something you should be comfortable with.

My Ornamental Horticulture article will definitely help you with landscaping. And I highly recommend you check it out.

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I hope this post has given you enough information to get started with Landscape Horticulture. Feel free to share your views and ask questions in the comments section below.

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