Hand drawn plans for residential garden design

Creating beautiful landscapes is not just about grouping pretty plants together; it must be founded on the universal elements and principles of design. These design elements – Color, Form, Line, Texture, and Scale are vital to our process and at least one or two are dominant factors in every landscape we create.

We also take special care in understanding our client’s personal preferences and desired space use, along with physical site conditions. Budget and timing are also critical part of the design process resulting in a true collaboration between homeowner and designer.

Pink and purple flowers in a verdant New Orleans garden

The Power of Color

Color is the strongest visual impact in the landscape and should be used in areas where you want to lead the eye.

  • Give emphasis to special areas with color.
  • From calming whites to dynamic vibrant reds – every color sets a mood.
  • Dark colors recede while light colors come forward.
New Orleans backyard decorated with purple flowers, sculpted hedges, and rustic stone steps

Give it shape

Form describes volume and mass, or the three-dimensional aspects of objects that take up space. Varied forms add interest.

  • Strong geometric shapes add order, formality and help accentuate spaces.
  • Organic shapes create a naturalistic setting.
Hedge design in New Orleans garden


A line is a continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. It has length and width, its width is very tiny compared to its length.

  • Lines define and help divide spaces.
  • Patterns in the landscape can be created with lines of evergreen hedges.
  • Lines draw the eye to specific locations.
Tiled stone walkway lined with grass and spherical bushes


Texture refers to the surface quality or “feel” of an object, like smoothness, roughness, softness, etc.

  • Contrasting small and large leaf size plants add visual interest.
  • Leaf texture – fuzzy leaves with smother surfaces invite touch.
Secluded garden dining area

Focal Point

A feature, work of art or a special heirloom can be a focal point. However subdued or expressive, every good design needs one. Much like everyone has a unique personality, these features give the garden a focus and a direction that other elements lead to.

Stone steps border the yard of a New Orleans home

Scale and Spatial Qualities

Designing outdoor landscapes should always be three dimensional – as Landscape Architects we create living spaces to gather, play, and rest.

  • Scale or proportion, can be used to add volume to small spaces or intimacy to large spaces.
  • Define spaces by creating outdoor ceilings, evergreen walls, and carpets of green.