Balance and Scale in Landscape Design

Mature trees accent yards and line streets in many established neighborhoods. The Florida climate is great for traditional Coconut palms, regal Queens, and stately Royals. From a distance, the presence of these trees creates a dramatic statement. A palm tree that is over five feet above the roof line is likely out of scale in comparison to the house. It is impossible to see from interior rooms. Homeowners are baffled by the common problem. The fix is rather simple.

Balance and scale are two landscape design key elements. Smaller trees, flowerbeds, and shrubs are needed to create an under story for any trees that rise 30 feet or more before displaying greenery. Vera Wood is a good example of a secondary tree. A large shrub like Cattle Guava can be aligned with it. The flowerbed size is dictated by the drip line, or outermost branches. Coleus or Caladium plants provide colorful ground level accents. The effect caused by the tiers avoids a common mistake of putting a flower collar around the base of a solitary tree. That design accentuates the lack of scale.

A formal design with identical plants that balance each side may be a choice. This design hinges on existing trees. To achieve balance in an asymmetrical plan, diagonal patterns and odd numbers of plants are used.

For a framing effect that is dramatic, Lingstrum trees can be planted to create a dark green canopy. The trees are planted on an outward diagonal line from the corners of the front of the house. Mahogany and Gumbo-Limbo are good candidates to use beside or behind the house for background interest. The bark of the Gumbo-Limbo is very distinctive.

To draw trees that have become like concrete sentinels back as an appealing part of the landscape, orchids can be attached at eye level. Alexander and MacArthur are multiple-trunk palm varieties that can be used to fill in a patio area and add visual appeal. To define an outside play area or dining spot, use tree trunks for cornerstones of decorative Eugenia hedges. Using repeated patterns of color or texture and different plant forms ties landscape areas together. A plant grouping that consists of Acalyphas, Philodendron “Hope,” and Liriope provide a bold look.

Scale and color are closely related. They evoke emotional connection. Absolute scale relates to the comparison of landscape values to fixed structures. Two houses of the same size can appear to look different with different landscaping elements. Small trees would make a house look larger. Larger trees make a house seem smaller.

Relative scale, like color, is capable of creating feelings of peacefulness and relaxation or action and energy. Low scale is calming and relaxing. Action is promoted by high scale. High scale is used in large spaces and around large buildings as space filler. Low and high scale are relative terms that compare to landscape objects.

When both sides of an area are in balance, equilibrium exists. Formal balance is high maintenance. The effects of dignity, stateliness, and stability are created. Design includes repeated elements from one side to the other. Informal balance creates curiosity and movement. The plant mass needs to be balanced, but the right and left sides differ.

Lombardo Landscaping
& Water Features, Inc.
7200 Bucks Ln
Fort Myers, Florida 33912