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How To Plan a Landscape Design Layout | State College, PA

If you've been wondering how to make your outdoor space look even better, you're in good company. Many property owners are keen to enhance their surroundings but often hit a roadblock when it comes to the initial steps.

This blog aims to be your go-to resource for mastering the intricacies of a landscape design layout. We'll arm you with the essential knowledge you need to transform your property into an outdoor oasis.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the seven principles of landscape design is crucial for a cohesive and visually pleasing outdoor space.

  • Material selection and planning the layout are vital steps that can make or break your landscape design.

  • Working with a professional like Landscape II can save time and ensure a sustainable, functional landscape.

What is Landscape Design?

Landscape design is a well-thought-out visual representation that combines both natural and man-made elements to create a harmonious outdoor space. From flowers and trees to patios and pools, a well-planned landscape layout can significantly enhance your property's curb appeal.

But here is the key to a well-executed landscape design: It should take into account various factors about your property, like the sun's path, the scale of the area, and all its existing features, such as fences and walls. It should be customized to your specific location.

Why Landscape Design Matters

Man building a wooden deck on his backyard

The value of a well-designed landscape extends beyond what you can immediately see. A well-planned landscape can increase your property's value, offer environmental benefits, and even improve your well-being, because a well-designed landscape is not just pretty—it is also sustainable and functional.

A thoughtful landscape design can also serve as an extension of your home, offering additional spaces for entertaining, relaxing, or even working. Would you like a cozy patio, a lush garden, or a functional front yard? Each element of the design should play a role in enhancing your daily life.

And let's not forget that every detail matters, from choosing the right plants that thrive in your location to planning out the lighting for those summer evening gatherings. A well-executed landscape design brings together all these elements so that your outdoor space is not just visually appealing but also tailored to your lifestyle.

Basic Principles of Landscape Design

Before working on the design of your landscape, it's crucial to grasp the foundational principles that guide effective landscape design. When you understand more about these principles, your project will feel and look more like a cohesive, visually pleasing landscape than a mere collection of plants and structures.

  • Proportion: This principle is all about the size relationship between different elements in your landscape. For example, a large fountain would overpower a small backyard, while a tiny statue could get lost in a sprawling garden.

  • Transition: Transition refers to the gradual change in an element rather than an abrupt one. This could be a gradual change in plant height, color, or even texture, creating a flow and movement in the design.

  • Unity: Unity is achieved when all components of the design work together in harmony. This could mean using consistent colors, shapes, or textures throughout the landscape.

  • Rhythm: This principle involves creating visual patterns that guide the eye through the landscape. Rhythm can be achieved through the repetition of shapes, colors, or even specific plants.

  • Balance: Balance ensures that no single element dominates the landscape. This can be symmetrical, where both sides mirror each other, or asymmetrical, where different elements balance each other out without being identical.

  • Focalization: This principle directs attention to a particular area or feature, like a fountain, sculpture, or a uniquely shaped plant. Focal points serve as visual "pauses" that add interest to the landscape.

  • Contrast: Contrast adds excitement and draws attention to specific areas. This could be achieved by placing dark plants against light ones or smooth textures next to rough ones.

Elements of Landscape Design

Having studied the seven basic principles that serve as the backbone of landscape design, it's now time to explore the individual elements that bring these principles to life.

When planning your landscape, it's essential to think beyond just plants and trees. Landscape design elements like color, form, texture, line, and scale are the building blocks that contribute to a balanced and harmonious design. Here is how each can significantly enhance the aesthetic and functional aspects of your landscape:

  • Color: Color sets the mood and creates the atmosphere. A monochromatic scheme or a burst of different vibrant hues, your color choices can make or break your design.

  • Form: This refers to the shape of the plants and structures in your landscape. Forms can be round, square, columnar, or weeping, and each brings a different visual impact.

  • Texture: Texture adds depth and interest to a landscape. This can be the roughness of a bark, the smoothness of a column, or the intricate patterns of a flower.

  • Line: Lines guide the eye and create movement. They can be straight, curved, vertical, or horizontal. For example, a straight path may lead the eye to a focal point, while curved lines can create a sense of mystery.

  • Scale: Scale involves the proportion of one element to another and to the landscape as a whole. It's crucial to consider how each element fits into the bigger picture to avoid a disjointed or overwhelming design.

Understanding Your Space

Before going into the design process, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of your property's unique features. This involves more than just knowing the dimensions of your yard.

You should be familiar with

  • your soil type, as this will dictate the kinds of plants that will thrive.

  • Understanding the climate in your area will also help you make informed decisions about which features to include.

  • Additionally, take note of the path of the sun across your yard throughout the day. This information is invaluable when deciding where to place certain plants and features so that your landscape thrives in the long run.

Planning the Layout

Creating a landscape plan is a bit like painting a picture, but instead of brush strokes, you're using elements of design to bring your vision to life.

The process starts with a basic outline of your property, often referred to as a plot plan. This outline should include all existing features that will remain unchanged, such as slopes, fences, and water features. Accurately noting these elements on paper helps you visualize the space and serves as a guide for what can be added or altered.

Once your foundational layer is set, it's time to introduce new elements to your design. This is where your creativity can truly shine. Consider adding walkways to guide visitors through your garden or to connect different areas of your yard. Patios can serve as focal points for outdoor entertaining, while plant life—ranging from shrubs and flowers to trees—can add both aesthetic and functional value.

Backyard used as a place for entertaining friends or family, seen here eating together

As you add these elements, remember to refer back to the seven principles of landscape design to ensure that each addition contributes to a cohesive and visually pleasing whole.

Also think about how you'll use the space throughout the year, not just during certain months, like summer. Will you need a path that's accessible even when it's snowing? Do you want a patio that's shaded during the hottest part of the day? These considerations will help you create a landscape that's not only beautiful but also quite functional.

Material Selection

Your landscape designs serve as a valuable tool in material selection because these help you visualize how different materials will look and feel in your outdoor space. Let's say you're considering natural stone for your patio, cedar for your fence, or specific types of soil for your garden beds. The landscape plans you drew up can guide you in making choices that align with both your vision and budget.

Remember, the materials you choose will have a long-term impact on maintenance, durability, and the overall success of your project.

The Expert Touch: Working with a Professional vs DIY

The allure of a DIY landscape project can be strong, especially with the wealth of information available online. However, the expertise of a professional landscaper offers invaluable benefits. A professional can handle the technical aspects that might be overlooked in a DIY project, such as proper drainage, effective lighting, and the complex installation of features.

They also bring a deep understanding of design principles and plant biology, ensuring that your landscape is not just beautiful but also sustainable and functional.

In the long run, hiring a professional service can save you both time and money, making your investment truly worthwhile.

Ready to Make Your Garden Designs Come to Life? Let Landscape II Help You

If you've read this far, you're clearly serious about transforming your outdoor space into something extraordinary. Why leave anything to chance? Contact Landscape II for a personalized landscaping consultation.

Our team of experts is ready to help you navigate the complexities of landscape design, ensuring that your vision is realized in a way that exceeds your expectations.

Let us help you turn your landscaping dreams into a stunning reality.


Planning a landscape design layout is an intricate process that requires focus, creativity, and a deep understanding of design principles and both natural and man-made elements. While DIY approaches may seem appealing, the expertise of a professional ensures a functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a landscape layout?

Creating a landscape layout starts with understanding your space, including soil type, climate, and sun path. Sketch a basic outline of your property, marking existing features like fences and slopes. Gradually add new elements like walkways, patios, and plant life to complete your design.

What are the seven 7 principles of landscape design?

The seven principles of landscape design are Proportion, Transition, Unity, Rhythm, Balance, Focalization, and Contrast. These principles guide the arrangement, form, and visual impact of your landscape, ensuring a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing result.

What is a layout plan in landscape architecture?

A layout plan in landscape architecture is a scaled visual representation of your outdoor space. It includes both natural and man-made elements, such as plants, water features, and structures, and serves as a guide for installation and maintenance.

What is concept in landscape design?

A concept in landscape design is the overarching theme or vision that guides the selection of elements and materials. It serves as the foundation for your landscape plan, ensuring that all components work together to create a harmonious and functional outdoor space.


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