Design gardens with shapes to direct the eye

Design gardens with shapes to direct the eye

Have you ever thought about changing the look of your home by changing the shape of the front yard landscape? Before you say no, grab your camera, head out the front door and take a few shots of your home. You can then go to the local drugstore and print out a dozen or so copies, as large as you can. Grab a new black marker, too, if you don’t have one.

Each and every shrub, bush, tree or vine creates a natural shape and can be manicured to create even more shapes. We’re looking for geometry here. Each shape has a purpose, according to Garden Gate magazine. A pyramid shape will always draw the eye. Rounded or horizontal forms don’t grab your attention, although they are pleasant to look at.

Round is typically the most common shape in any landscape. Use it in groups or masses where you don’t want to attract a lot of attention. Pyramidal will not only draw attention, but its narrow top will make you want to look up. Columnar shapes lead the eye upward, as well, and the thinner the column the more dramatic the affect. The columnar shape is perfect to use at a tall corner to soften its look.

The horizontal shape gives a stabile, comfortable look to your home. Low plants with flat tops emphasize length. Weeping shapes encourage you to look down. If you are trying to hide something higher up on the house use a weeping shape to distract viewers.

A home that looks too tall can be brought to scale by using a strong low horizontal line of shrubs across the front. A large round tree in the front yard balanced with smaller rounded trees or large shrubs on either side of the house will complete the transformation.

Make your house look larger by planting a tall columnar plant past the corner beyond the actual side of the exterior walls on both sides. A couple of pyramid plants near the front door keep attention focused on that area. Do you have an ugly roof? Use a large weeping-form shrub or two on either side of the house to distract visitors from looking up at the roof. Their horizontal form tends to point visitors toward the front door and visually widens the space, too. Large garage doors on one side of the house can begin to be balanced by a large round tree on the opposite side of the yard.

So grab those duplicate photos of your own front yard scene. Mark different plant shapes onto the photos until you get the look you want. Then the fun begins. Next week: plants choice options by shape.


Joette is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.