Landscape Design Tips

A balanced landscape is composed of different types of foliage, colors, textures and a mixture of deciduous plants and evergreens. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting plants to prevent future problems and to keep your landscape looking beautiful.


A landscape can’t look its best if all the shrubs and trees are overgrown and need constant maintenance. The most common mistake made when selecting plants is not taking mature size into account. Oversized plants make a landscape look messy, require more frequent pruning, can smother smaller plants, can block windows and walkways and even pose safety hazards.

When selecting plants, find out how large they can grow and space them accordingly. If two sizes are given (i.e. 3’ – 5’) assume the plants will reach the larger size. Gaps between plants can be filled by temporary items (like statuary, stakes and birdbaths) that can be moved as the plants grow.


All plants need sunlight to grow, but different plants prefer different levels of light. A shade plant will scorch in full sun and a full sun will languish and fail in shade. Select plants for the light levels you have to ensure you start your landscape with plants that will thrive.

Mix Color and Texture

Too much of the same thing is boring, and that applies to color and texture. Mix up your landscape with different types of foliage and color.

While a good majority of plants are green, that color varies in shade from plant to plant. Some are dark, some are bright, some have a bluish tinge to them and there are many varieties of plant with variegated leaves. Mixing broadleaf shrubs with conifers is another way to break up the monotony.

Plant Evergreens and Deciduous Shrubs

Deciduous plants add large amounts of interest spring through fall, but are usually lack luster during winter. Evergreens solve that problem, but many don’t have much to offer during the warmer months. Planting both deciduous and evergreen shrubs in your landscape ensures year-round interest.

Aim for Various Flowering Times

Selecting plants that bloom at different points in the year to ensure you have the maximum amount of color in your landscape year-round. By mixing perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs with different bloom periods, you can ensure that your landscape has something blooming most of the year.

Don’t Go Overboard with Novelty

Topiaries, weeping trees and other unique plants add interest to landscapes, but only when used in moderation. These novelty plants lose their impact when they are overused. Limit their use to one or two specimen plantings in the landscape.

Shrubs – Plant in Groups with Occasional Specimens

When selecting shrubs, avoid purchasing a large assortment of different varieties. Too many different plants makes a landscape look messy and chaotic. Instead, aim for larger groupings of the same plants and accent those groupings with standalone specimen plants.

Annuals & Perennials – Plant in Large Groups

Perennials and annuals look better and make more of an impact when planted in large groups. Single plants can be easily lost amongst other plants, so up their visibility by planting in clusters or rows.