Garden Design Essentials: Proportion and Scale

Proportion and scale seem to be the most challenging concepts to pull off correctly in the landscape. I’ve seen so many spindly arbors and trellises which look fragile and temporary. And I’ve noticed just how sad and lonely tiny little flowerpots can look onto a massive patio. Folks seem to be afraid to go big in the landscape. As one informed designer pointed out to me years ago, when the sky is your ceiling you don’t need to worry about doing something overly big.

According to Design Through Discovery, my reliable, dog-eared faculty reference book, ratio usually refers to size connections within an essay, like how the piece of furniture occupies a room.Scale signifies size in comparison to some constant, like the magnitude of the body. That’s where the phrases”small scale” and”large scale” come in, since they refer to the out-of-the-ordinary size of items.

When you find a space where everything is in ratio and the scale is appropriate, it’s visually appealing. Take a look at some of the finest examples I discovered on .

More garden design elements: Line | Rhythm | Shape and Mass | Space |Texture | Shade

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

This outdoor living area includes excellent use of ratio and scale. The height and thickness of the visually floating timber construction are related, with every section in equal ratio to the other. The timber wall section is also roughly two-thirds the height of the white stucco courtyard wall — a pleasing ratio.

The U-shape bench adopts a fire table that fits into the opening like a perfect puzzle piece. Lastly, the broad wood planks replicate the scale of the diagonally laid wood decking — a nice contrast.

John Maniscalco Architecture

There is a beefy feeling in the substances employed for this outdoor dining space, but their ratio and scale feel completely suitable for the setting. This is a relatively narrow space for a dining terrace, however the narrowness is offset by the elongated proportions.

You notice it in the timber retaining wall. Then the same wall proportions are used on the stone facade to partially enclose the raised platform. In terms of scale, the dining table set well occupies its designated distance — you wouldn’t need anything .

Whitten Architects

The home’s exterior millwork is substantial, lending prominence into the overhanging porch roof. The service post blends with all the overhead beam and likely steps 10 or 12 inches. The designer has treated the support article for a piece of architecture rather than as an afterthought, giving it an important role in the overall composition.

Scot Eckley, Inc..

Envision this outside living room with different furniture maybe white wicker. It would feel lost in this gorgeous environment. Rather, this furniture is daring and confident. Substantial in size, the teak sofa and armchairs connect beautifully to the other features of this outdoor space, including the oversize bluestone pavers and fireplace wall. The furniture is also scaled comfortably for the outside setting, where big conifers loom overhead.

Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

I am a sucker for a well-placed item of art or sculpture in a garden setting. This bowl on a substantial pedestal has the appropriate ratio within the space. It rests on the green carpet of turf and connects well (at roughly half the height) into the border of ornamental grasses supporting it.

As for scale, there is something very elegant about the appropriateness of this item. I can definitely envision a much taller sculpture placed here. However, I do love how the base’s volume echoes the tree trunk at the far perfect.

Erla Dögg ingjaldsdóttir

Is this from Alice in Wonderland? This gigantic door dwarfs the little girl standing in the door. It is an exaggerated illustration of scale and how we judge an item in connection to an ideal or norm, like the human body. Disproportion is not always a drawback, however. The overscale doorway and cosmetic surface layout are magnificent. From our vantage point, the door has a strong relationship with the daring red entry . Together the elements make an unforgettable impact.

Frank & Grossman Landscape Contractors, Inc..

A single large-scale object always makes a bigger splash than the usual cluster of little objects. That’s clear here, where the saucer-shape water feature dominates (but doesn’t overwhelm) that Spanish-style courtyard. Its dimensions are almost the same as the arches across the loggia, unifying the water attribute with its environment.

Dig Your Garden Landscape Design

Similar to the prior water feature, this massive fire pit used as a central design element exemplifies confident utilization of scale. Think about these flimsy, imported fire pits which always threaten to get knocked over. Instead, the owners of this inviting outdoor space have used a industrial metal salvage piece to produce the fire pit that was overburdened.

There is a good understanding of ratio at play , also. Notice how the space surrounding the fire pit accommodates comfortable Adirondack chairs and a curved retaining wall.

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

An arbor made from massive timbers frames the entry into a cave courtyard. Here’s a scenario where the substances are accurate in connection to the structure. The scale is also suitable — not overly big, not too tiny.

Huettl Landscape Architecture

The height of this home determines the thickness of the landscape facing it. The home’s scale and the garden’s scale feel connected. The eye moves smoothly in the ground plane to the vertical plane, creating a harmonious effect.

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