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Walk a Mighty Fine Line With Geometric Gardens

Small and large plots alike benefit from strongly-shaped layouts achieved through plantings and the use of hard materials. Here, we explain the basics and benefits of geometric design.

Excerpted from Garden Design

Small, symmetrical, rectangular-shaped plots, often found in towns and cities, are ideal for geometric layouts, although some large rural gardens are also highly geometric. Most are based on simple combinations of rectangles and squares, with linear elements, such as walls, screens, hedges and steps used to reinforce the structured nature of the design.

Layering Shapes

Using a variety of layers above ground level makes gardens more visually exciting and functional, and offers different views and experiences. Layers can sit directly above the ground's lines to project the pattern into vertical space or set on a complimentary diagonal. Pergolas, clipped-tree canopies and roof-like structures all offer opportunities to layer your design.

The arrangement of elements and use of color breaks up a dull rectangular plot, especially when the sun creates interesting shadows (image 1).

Subtle changes of level using a range of materials creates visual interest, as in this plan where raised decks counterbalance ground-level paving and a sunken water feature (image 2).

  • Layers Overlap to Break Up Rectangular PlotSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Subtle Changes in Levels Create Visual InterestSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Circular Designs

Layouts based on circles, arcs and radiating patterns help to create feelings of movement.

A central lawn mowed along the line and surrounded by a radiating pattern of beds and hedges combines a sense of order with rhythm and movement (image 1).

This simple design focuses the eye on the center of the garden. A container or sculpture could be used as a focal point (image 2).

If you're considering using circular designs, take two cautions to heart: Any imperfections in their geometry can ruin their effect, and they are difficult to build from hard landscape materials. If you're worrried that these problems might ruin your design goals, consider instead an organic layout, where meandering lines and their slight imperfections only add character.

  • Central Lawn Surrounded by Radiating Low BedsSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Simple Design Focuses Eye on Center of GardenSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Shapes on a Diagonal

Diagonal design is classic design trick for plots that are straight and narrow. These layouts draw your eye down the longest line of the garden and encourage views to the sides.

A diagonal path with steps traces a zig-zag line through the garden, providing areas to linger and enjoy the wide beds and colorful planting (image 1).

Here, rectangles of hard landscaping, set side-by-side and edged with planting, make the garden appear wider than it is (image 2).

  • Diagonal Path Traces Zig Zag Line Through GardenSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009
  • Shapes Define Space with Hard Landscape and PlantsSimple Steps: Vegetable Gardening ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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