• Jay Friesen

Basics VI: Balance

Series: Basics of Good Design

  1. Foundations I: Why Design Your Landscape?

  2. Foundations II: Pre-Design Work

  3. Basics I: Line

  4. Basics II: Shape & Form = Theme

  5. Basics III: Color

  6. Basics IV: Scale

  7. Basics V: Unity

Last time we discussed unity. Now that we have become unified, we need to balance so stand on one foot and hold your breath as we discuss how a balanced life is a healthy life in all aspects.

Balance is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, texture, and space. If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable. To illustrate this principle, if you stand on one leg (see I wasn’t joking above), we say you are balancing. You are in fact, shifting some of your weight to the opposite side of your body to allow this to happen (asymmetrically).  Yet, when you stand on both legs you are still balancing (standing) albeit symmetrically.  If you asked most people, they would be more surprised with balancing on one leg than two and that is because it is less expected and therefore will be more visually interesting. 

Autum Morning flagstone leading up to dual Basalt Columns flanked by Hybrid Roses, siltstone boulders and Autum Blaze Maple.

How do we balance a landscape though? First, you do NOT have to plant something on the right side because you planted the same shrub on the left, that is symmetry. Yes, symmetry provides balance and is appropriate in some designs, but you can also balance with asymmetry or radial balance. Asymmetrical balance is achieved by balancing the design with equal weight but with different elements. For instance, if you look at the front of a home and one side of the house is taller, you will need to compensate and balance the entry with heavier object opposite the tall side to achieve a balanced look. Radial balance is used less often in landscaping but is much as it sounds that you start with a central point and radiate out from the center in a circular fashion.

You achieve balance in a variety of ways. Share your favorites!

Questions? Comments? Email me info@billingsnursery.com or swing by our store and chat with any of our helpful & knowledgeable staff!

Andrew J Marble

Landscape Design Artist

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