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Design Guidelines


  1. Rectilinear – A rectilinear design uses vertical and horizontal lines set on a square grid. Think raised beds.

  2. Radial – A radial design uses various sizes of circles that branch out from a central point and multidirectional straight lines on a radial grid. Think herb garden or a larger area with a seating space in the middle.

  3. Curvilinear – A curvilinear design consists of compound curves and the absence of straight lines on a square grid. Water features work well in this kind of space.


  • Generally try to improve the overall appearance of the landscape by taking into consideration the shortcomings of your site and using design to compensate for it. Rectilinear designs are more formal and tradition and complement formal architecture; radial designs are bold and can liven up a boring area and provide focus; curvilinear designs are free flowing and can create a soothing space.


Design elements

  • Repeat a shape, but vary the size.

  • Vary the height of elements.

  • Line up elements to create an organized, clean, systematic effect.

  • Use parallel lines and 90 degree angles to maintain an orderly and structure appearance.

  • Don’t place elements at random as it creates visual chaos.

  • Mass like objects and balance the mass.

  • Establish an axis and use focal points to terminate views.

  • Use lines of tree or mounds of shrubs to create “rooms” for activities.

  • Incorporate paths and storage areas in your plan as they take up space.

  • A 50 square foot garden with 10 foot rows creates 40 square feet of paths; however, a raised beds only need 10 square feet of paths. A keyhole garden may only need 6 square feet of space for paths. 

  • After designing your layout, add nitrogen fixing plants, insectary plans and wildlife food to the wasted spaces.

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