Anyone can buy shrubs and trees at the local greenhouse and plant them around their house, but that doesn’t mean you can achieve the same look that you would with a professional landscaper! We encourage everyone to try getting their hands dirty and planting something they love, but there’s also something special about residential landscaping. 

In today’s blog, we’re pulling back the curtain on how we design residential and commercial landscaping. A great landscaper has the eye of an artist, but even if you’re not artistically inclined, there are a few basic principles of landscape design that you can use to get off to a good start! Continue reading to learn more, and if you’re interested in hiring Michaelangelo’s Sustainable Landscape and Design Group for your next landscaping project, contact us today!


The first principle in any great design (from a work of visual art to interior design to graphics to gardening) is unity. Unity is the concept that everything that you’ve created (including hardscaping or water features) works together. One way of achieving unity is through the interconnection of different parts of your landscape with paths, walkways, and fences.


It can be easy to want to plant as many gorgeous things as possible, but your landscape can easily become cluttered. Prioritize what is important and what is not and keep your design clean, neat, and uncluttered. One way to achieve simplicity is by thinking of what you want to feature, such as a tree or a colorful flower bed, and then arranging your plants around that central element.


Lines are used everywhere in landscape design and they’re one of the most important design elements to consider! Not only do the lines of your space need to be functional (like paths or patios) they also should be used to create interest and balance. Think of creatively shaped beds and walkways and how you want people to move through your space. Even your planting creates lines, such as a row of pine trees or shrubs.

Strong horizontal lines can make a space feel broader, while vertical lines carry your eye skyward and are a great way to make small spaces feel larger. The types of lines you choose also have an emotional effect. Straight lines are more formal, while curved lines are relaxing and gentle. When creating your landscape design, visualize how a straight or curved line will direct your eye through space towards a particular focal point. 


Great landscaping is all about mixing color and texture. While a lush green yard can be stunning, it’s even more so when it’s broken up with trees, flower beds, or hardscaping. Think about shape, size, and form when you select plants and try to create visual interest. It’s tricky to balance simplicity with variety but think about having multiple kinds of plants, but fewer of each kind.


The size of different components in your landscape and the scale of how they look in relation to one another is vital to achieving a stunning landscape design. Think about the size of the space you’re landscaping and then the size of the different things you’re using within your design. When you take scale into account, you should end up with a balanced, well-proportioned design. 


Sequencing refers to how transitions are made between and within sections of the landscape. Think about the plant size, shape, and texture of each element. Then, make gradual changes of one element at a time in order to create an appealing sequence. For example, try to avoid abrupt changes from a tall tree to a short shrub or a fine-textured fern to a rough one. 


Color is what catches people’s eye and makes your landscape design stand out! But when you’re working with brightly colored plants or flowering bushes, think about them in relation to one another. Warm colors like pink and orange seem to advance towards you, while cool colors, like blues and greens seem to move away from you. You can utilize this idea to create depth and perspective within your design.

Contrast & Harmony

Color is a great way to achieve contrast. Think of a brightly flowering magnolia tree beside an evergreen pine. Contrast helps highlight certain elements of your design (like that stunning magnolia), while harmony helps elements look more unifying. Think about where you want to draw people’s eyes and utilize contrast there. You can also think of contrast in other elements, such as different color paving stones or a voluminous shrub next to tall grasses. 


Empty spaces, or voids, are another element to include in your design. They’re any empty space, such as a wide expanse of lawn or an open patio. Too often, voids are unintentional and simply the empty space that was leftover. When you create your design, take the void into account in order to help balance and unite the other individual elements of your design. This is especially important for hardscaping and bed lines. Try thinking of how you’re designing the empty space rather than the occupied, and then design your plantings afterward.

Michaelangelo’s Sustainable Landscape and Design Group

Our Atlanta landscaping company is proud to provide our Atlanta community with the very best in landscape design. We provide a variety of professional landscaping services including turf care, hardscapes, irrigation, and landscape lighting. We serve customers in Alpharetta, Marietta, Roswell, and everywhere in between. Contact us today for a free estimate on your lawn care!