Gardening with Lines and Shapes

Especially in winter, and even in summer, we expect our garden to be colorful. Color, of  course, is simply one part of the garden equation.

Shapes and forms can make your garden and lawn more dynamic…from very large, towering trees, to smaller and more compact broad pyramids, to slender upright clustering branches that taper toward the top with conical shapes. Varying the shape, size and form of plantings will give your courtyard, garden or lawn its own personality.

When you shop for shrubs and trees, look at their silhouette. Imagine them in a line, or running along your fence. Now think about whether you want an even or staggered line, such as 3 shrubs of same height, one taller. Then 3 short, 1 tall. You get the idea. Circles are often popular in creating a garden feel – you can encircle your groomed, gardened area in shrubs or small trees. Or picture this…you start with a tall tree and form a slanted, diagonal line by planting things beside it that get steadily shorter.

Do you like tall and thin or short and wide? Do you like trees and shrubs that are squarish, with straight lines? Rounded like a ball? Or messy and uneven? Get the pen out and do a sketch, or go online and look at pictures of other gardens, to get ideas. A plant’s silhouette makes a difference in the visual look of the area. Some are more flowing or “droopy”
while others are stiff and sturdy. It’s all in what you like. Conical blue spruces are often a favorite for their stable form.

Remember, ground cover and shrubbery that is laid out with symmetry (symmetrical) give gardens a formal look. You may want a looser, more casual feel and this you use wavy or uneven lines when planting. Boxwoods and arborvitaes are good for creating a controlled, even look. Forsythia and azaleas are great for curvy, less formal lines.

If you are having trouble deciding the shape and style of your garden – square or round, sharp and clean or loose and casual – defer to your HOUSE. Follow the style of your home to help you design your outdoor space. Pristine and serious or fun and spunky?

You can also do a lot with textures, which we’ll talk about in a future article. Remember, grasses provide a touch of color and style to gardens and can be lined up, spaced out, to create a very ordered look (for example, one straight line, each clump placed 4 feet apart) OR they can be randomly planted for a cluster here, cluster there.

Remember, it is perfectly OK to have both a groomed, orderly, more formal look in one area of your lawn or garden, and a “messier”, more creative and natural looking space elsewhere. Let your own (and your home’s) personality shine!  Ask your lawn and garden professional for advice when picking out new plantings, and enjoy the garden. April is not all that far away, you can start planning in February to change the look of your lawn this Spring!