Square One: Spaces and Shapes for Your Landscape

Whether you plan to follow existing angular boundaries, carve out curving paths or pair circles and squares for interest and flow, it's valuable to try out basic shapes and think about how they'll set the mood for your space.

  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends


All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.


Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail


A link to %this page% was e-mailed

Using Spaces

Think about how you want to use your space, and what mood you want to invoke, before planning it out. For example, densely planted spaces that fill the garden’s width and maximize its height, will make you feel wrapped in a cocoon; appealing to those who like feeling snug, this approach can be a real turn-off for people who tend to feel claustrophobic. On the other hand, sparse, airy planting around boundaries gives an open, spacious feel, a joy for some while not lush enough for others.

Spaces can also be used to disguise the size and shape of a garden. For example, letting tropical plants grow wild in a small garden can make the space feel larger by disguising the garden's outer edges, whereas exposing those same boundaries may make the garden appear smaller. Conversely, in a large country garden, open spaces can blend with the surrounding landscape, making the plot seem even bigger. When designing your garden, keep existing planting and structures in mind, too, and work with the spaces they create.

This garden is densely planted by the house, allowing close inspection of the flowers and plants. The perpendicular lines of the path are offset, pleasantly, by the diagonal placement of the picnic bench and the circular pond.

The Same Space, Three Ways

To demonstrate the impact design has on space, we offer sketches the same space, designed three ways. Try to figure out what you like or dislike about each of them, then bring those principles to your own design.

Creating narrow space within tall boundaries would feel oppressive and claustrophobic. Here, in a design dominated by a lawn or hard landscaping, low vegetation creates an area with more light, longer views and a connection to the sky above. In order to achieve an open feeling, this design must forfeit intimate areas (image 1).

Filling the same space filled with vegetation of different heights leaves it darker, much more enclosed and lacking views to the sides (image 2). The path will directs the visitor through the center, to different parts of the garden. These areas could be similar or different, depending on the planting and elements used.

The same path now moved to the side also creates a corridor-like effect, but this time views are retained to the right, under the tree canopy and across a narrower strip of planting (image 3). To the left, secret, intimate places can be created with a pergola or arbor placed among a mix of high and low planting.

12Next »

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

We Recommend...

Water-Wise Landscape for the Rockies and High Plains

Water-Wise Landscape for the Rockies and High Plains

Ninebark, prairie sage, snowberry and other native plants help make the best use of rainfall in this earth-friendly garden design.

Landscape Plan: Fruit Garden for the Rockies and Plains

Landscape Plan: Fruit Garden for the Rockies and Plains

Imagine stepping outside your back door to pick raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, persimmons, apples and pears. Here's a...

The Thoroughly Modern Garden

The Thoroughly Modern Garden

Are you mesmerized by the changing shadows on your patio, as the sun moves through the sky? Do you like minimalist planting and...

From our Sister Sites:


HGTV Outdoors Newsletter

Find out how to make the most of patios, decks and all your outdoor areas, plus tips from master gardeners for beautiful flower beds and bountiful vegetable gardens.