Garden Design: Create a Well-Balanced Garden

A balanced, well-proportioned garden design makes for a comfortable and relaxing garden.
Formal Rooftop

Formal Rooftop

Achieving balance is easier in formal gardens because they are set out in a symmetrical pattern like in this urban rooftop garden. Informal designs have to be judged more by eye.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

You always know when you’re entering a balanced, well-proportioned garden because it feels comfortable—lines lead you naturally through the space, and shapes and volumes are restful to the eye. Some contemporary designers purposely set out to create slight discord by building gardens that are off-balance, but most of us want our outdoor spaces to offer a peaceful sanctuary. So, how do you achieve balance and proportion? 

First, think about your garden design in proportion to the human body. A tall hedge planted close to the house may appear too dominant as you enter the garden, but when set at the far end of the site, the perspective makes it seem more apt and less formidable. Flowerbeds dotted around the garden look unbalanced and chaotic if they have not been set out to follow a line. They make you feel like you’re in a messy room, while broad, flowing borders that sweep gracefully through the space, or wide, straight flowerbeds flanking a pool, create order and immediately relax you. 

Treat your garden like a room in your house: there, you know instinctively when you mark out an area for a new sofa whether it will look right in the space. Do the same outside. Measure and mark out the position of your planned features with sand from a bottle, a spray marker, or canes, to see how they fit. Or take photos and draw features and plantings on them to check the sizes and proportions. You don’t need to draw accurate representations; simple, blocky shapes will give you an idea of how they will look in situ. 

Achieving balance is easier in formal gardens because they are set out in a symmetrical pattern, but informal designs have to be judged more by eye.

Next Up

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

English Garden Design

Learn the elements of enchanting English gardens, and discover ways to translate that look to your yard.

Designing Outdoor Spaces

Give clients exactly what they want with these nine tips.

Garden Design Styles

Discover the diversity of garden design styles—and find the perfect one to express your passions and personality.

Zen Rock Garden Design

Step up to simplicity with a Zen garden. These low-maintenance spaces foster peace, tranquility, and relaxation. 

Create a Secret Garden

Transform your garden into an oasis worthy of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s "The Secret Garden."

Garden Design: Choose an Overall Look for Your Garden

Deciding on a central garden design idea or landscaping theme for your garden will help keep the space from looking cluttered and unfocused.

Garden Design: Defining Your Space

Define your garden with landscaping that pulls all the elements together to create one unified, inviting space. We made over the yard below to do exactly that.

The Basics of Garden Design Principles

Designing your garden doesn't have to be time intensive. Learn a few basic skills for creating the outdoor space of your dreams.

Garden Layout and Design Plans

Discover tips and ideas you can use for developing your own garden layouts and design plans.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.