Gardens increase the resale value of properties and help them sell faster. Rental properties with gardens have better occupancy rates, and garden-facing hotel rooms are in greater demand.
Landscaped gardens undeniably add value to any property. Houses with landscaped gardens have better curb appeal. Trees and greenery also help reduce air and noise pollution, and they improve people’s quality of life.
A less-than-ideal climate should not stop you from garden landscaping. In fact, you can find magnificent gardens in the tropical desert that is Dubai.
Garden landscaping Dubai-style comes in the likes of the Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai Butterfly Garden, and Dubai Garden Glow. And gardens are a ubiquitous feature of the city’s residential and commercial developments, too.
If you are ready to start on your own garden landscaping project, remember to plan. And in your plan, consider balance, emphasis, and scale that work together to make a great garden.
Balance, in the context of landscaping, refers to the evenness of your garden. Does your garden look and feel balanced or not?
People generally associate balance with symmetry. In the simplest sense, that’s when the details on the left side mirror the details on the right side. That’s when a water fountain is placed at the center of the garden, evenly dividing the space into two or more equidistant sections.
But balance is so much more than symmetry. Your garden can focus on asymmetry without sacrificing balance.
You see, everything you put in your garden – every rock, tree, tile, plant, or feature – has its corresponding visual weight. Now balance pertains to arranging your garden so that a viewer will perceive an even distribution of visual weight throughout.
Admittedly, balance is easier achieved through symmetry. If you have a group of Monstera plants on the left, you can put a similar group right across it to the right to ensure proper counterweighting.
However, there can be informal balance in your garden, too. You can achieve this through an asymmetrical design. For instance, you can put a pond on the left of your path and one or two low trees plus flowering plants and shrubs of varying heights on the right.
In this case, the two sides are not identical. But given the right mixture of trees and plants on the right, the two sides and the whole garden can have an even visual weight, and you can achieve balance.
For a visually striking garden, you need a focal point. What is it in your garden that should draw the eyes and the focus of the viewer?
Emphasis is crucial in garden design. If you know which element you will emphasize and where you intend to put it, you can plan the rest of your design elements around that point.
You can use various devices to enforce your desired perspective. For instance, in a garden consisting mainly of low, flowering shrubs, putting your prized pine bonsai tree on a pedestal differentiates it. Using height, you can make something a prominent feature of your garden.
Another standard method of emphasizing a garden feature is building an obvious path towards your focal point. You can lay out stepping stones towards an arbor or put an intriguing carving in the middle of two or more intersecting pathways.
You can also employ direction. Let’s say you have a water wall that you want to emphasize. You can orient your plants, shrubs, trees, and all of your other design elements so that they naturally guide the viewer’s eyes towards the vertical water feature.
Using light is another clever way of highlighting interesting features in your garden. If your garden gets plenty of natural light, you can put your favorite sculpture in a place where the rays of the sun fall on or pass through it.
Lucky you if you have a fantastic view of the sunrise or sunset from your garden. The rising or setting sun should make an excellent albeit fleeting focal point as well.
You can also add features such as a wooden slat roof on your marquee or a vertical metal slat wall, then let natural or artificial light pass through it to create interesting shadows and patterns in your garden.
At night, you can use a combination of spotlights, inground lights, outdoor post lights, string lights, and path lights, among others, to emphasize specific design elements in your garden.
You should also plan your garden’s scale so that no particular element dwarfs out all the rest. Yes, you want to emphasize one or a few details in your garden. But you don’t want any one feature taking over completely. You want your garden to speak as a whole.
To illustrate, if you are going to plant trees, make sure they will not dominate the entire space. A crowd of trees does not a landscaped garden make.
It is for this reason that considering the available space is vital in planning your garden’s scale. So before you start garden landscaping, determine how much space is available to you.
If you have a small backyard, a pocket garden is a good idea. And in that pocket garden, you obviously cannot have a full oak tree. It will not be practical, and it probably will not fit either.
In small spaces, you have to scale down your garden plants, too. You can create a garden of succulents, potted plants in varying textures, colors, and heights, interspersed with low-key rock features.
Naturally, you have to plan at a much larger scale if you have a 7,000 square-foot yard to turn into a landscaped garden. You can probably fit in several fruit or flowering trees, put in some garden paths, a bamboo wall accent, a colored concrete exterior focal wall, and many other elements without overwhelming your available space.
The Road to Harmony
Balance, emphasis, and scale are just three of the things you must consider in garden landscaping. However, these three are the most critical factors.
Master all three, and you can achieve harmony in your garden.
Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.