Planning your new yard design? It's a fun process filled with creativity, individuality and style. But it can be hard to know how to start. Understanding the basic elements of landscape design is vital to creating a good layout that will please you for years. Here's a handy primer to the 5 basic elements of landscape design so you can use them properly.


"Lines" can refer to any type of lines, each of which serves a different purpose. Vertical lines draw the eye outward or upward, extending the size of the yard or making it feel larger overall. Pathways, fence lines or a row created with trees or plants can all be used to create subtle lines throughout your yard. Hardscaping can also be used to create upward lines with pillars, columns, arbors or pergolas. Horizontal lines and lines that are perpendicular to the viewer -- such as walls or walkways -- can also make the yard seem wider. 


Shapes and structures create visual interest in the yard and give it weight. Choose plants that have varied textures -- including things like coarseness, smoothness, roughness, heaviness and size. Rocks, fountains and other yard architecture can also be used to create interesting texture in contrast with flowers, shrubs and trees.


Finding the right scale is important to creating a yard that works as a cohesive whole. If you choose plants or architecture that's too small for a large yard, it draws attention to the enormity of the space. If you choose large plants like elephant ear or an oversized fountain, it can make a small yard space feel even tinier. 


Color adds mood and tone to the yard, so choose your colors carefully. Similar color palettes create a feeling of unity or harmony, while bright and contrasting colors create fun or emphasize different aspects of the yard. Using warm colors can make the space seem smaller and more inviting, but using cool ones can make it feel more traditional or open. Individual colors can also be used to create a focal point, add seasonal variety or blend in the yard to the home. 


Finally, choosing a singular style gives a yard its theme and motif. A formal style, for example, includes neatly trimmed greenery, clean lines and geometry. A casual style is composed of random curves, overflowing flower beds and complementary but eclectic yard art. By knowing what your personal style will be, you can make more unified choices in all the other design elements to create a singular theme. 

Once you know the elements that make up a yard design, you can begin to work to put them together to make the perfect yard for your own space and family. Whether you work alone or with a qualified landscape architect in your area, you can be more confident that you can now create the yard of your dreams.