Friday, February 4, 2011

Line in the Landscape

Good lines make a bold statement in the landscape.

Line is an important element in the garden.  Good lines help define style, create movement, direct the eye and emphasize focal points. 

Straight lines reflect the formal style of this area at Hershey Gardens.  Although the lines are straight, the design is dynamic, leading your eye to the Miscanthus focal points anchoring the ends of the planting beds.

Curved lines create interest in this informal garden, guiding your focus through the area. 

The curve of this path directs your eye behind the planting and encourages you to investigate the hidden destination.  Although it may seem counter-intuitive, using line to conceal a part of the garden gives the visual impression of a larger space.  A focal point or bench found around the bend is a sweet surprise, making the journey there worthwhile.

Line can be defined by hardscape edges,

 by the planting bed edge,

or by sweeps of plants within a planting area.

Not all lines are equal.  This weak line doesn't relate to the plant placement and isn't effective.  Bolder is better.

Photo used with permission from Signature Gardens
  This path, by Toni at Signature Gardens, is an excellent example of effective line.  The bold curve defines the lawn edge and directs your eye to the arbor which entices you to explore the garden further. 
Creating a good line is easier on paper than in the landscape.  To make it work on the ground, lay it out first with a garden hose, which is easily adjusted until you have it right.  You can then use the hose as a guide for edging, or trace the line with spray paint for a longer lasting reference.
The clean line of this planting bed, defined by Junipers, works even in the dead of winter and emphasizes the Miscantus grass focal point.  The lone Miscanthus would stick out like a sore thumb at this time of year without the surrounding Junipers.  While the scene is more vibrant during the summer, the simple evergreen circle surrounding the exclamation point of grass creates a pleasant winter scene.

Heighten interest and intrique in your garden by designing with dynamic lines.


Donna said...

great points..I am always trying to work the lines so they are just right...loved it..thx

Anonymous said...

Good design advice.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Chris, Very well written and illustrated discussion of a very important design point. Love your new gravatar of your GGW entry---very nice. Carolyn

Chris said...

Donna: Glad you enjoyed the post - I appreciate your letting me know that you were here!
GWGT: And that from a gifted designer...I appreciate it.
Carolyn: I'm glad you like my new gravatar - my previous pink ivy geraniums were in my window boxes in Slovakia, but the colors and simplicity of my GGW photo are more my style.

Darla said...

Very inspirational post...I'll be checking my lines and focal points.

p3chandan said...

Whether its straight lines or curves, I think the choice of plants are so important to accentuate the design. The plants give colours and structure to the decided design.I love your garden photos! Chris Im awarding you the Stylish Blogger Award, please do come and get it from my blog if your have time.

Chris said...

Darla: I appreciate your visit and your kind words!
p3chandan: I agree - plant selection is key. But as you can see in the first photo, even a very simple plant palette can become dynamic through the use of effective line. I am honored by your award! I will be stopping by soon!

Orchid de dangau said...

So beautiful. Thanks for sharing the inspiration.

Alistair said...

Hello Chris,In the past curvy lines were the order of the day in our garden. Recently I realised some of them were indeed the weak lines which you highlight. Although we now have a mix of straights and curvys, I am leaning towards the straight lines.

Sunray said...

Beautiful gardens and photos capturing them.

Goldenray Yorkies

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