How Carson Arthur Finds Balance in an Outdoor Space
In my outdoor designs, I value balance more than any other component in a space. Balance is one of those unique design elements that you don’t notice until it’s out of whack! If all of the landscaping elements are on one side of the yard, you’ll notice it.
From a design perspective, there are two types of balance. Symmetrical balance is used in more formal landscapes. Good designers will create an imaginary centre line and use similar elements on each side of the line to create a mirror image. For most of us, the front walkway is a perfect divider between both sides of the yard. Even if the walkway isn’t perfectly down the middle of the yard, having consistent elements on each side creates a visual harmony.
Asymmetrical design tends to be visually jarring for some and is often used in modern landscaping technique. I use asymmetrical design when the lines of the home are already unbalanced. Often you can help a home that has unique lines or a large garage on one side by adding visual ‘weight’ to the other side of the yard. One of my personal techniques is to add a large or colourful tree on the one side of the yard to pull the eye away from the two-car garage on the other side. The reverse works as well. If you have a large tree on one side of the yard, adding three shrubs to the other side will create the visual balance without being identical.
There is one other type of balance that is not traditional in landscape design but is probably more important to me than anything else I create. If I am able to create a balance between the homeowner’s needs and what is best for the environment, then I feel I did my job as a designer. When you look at your own outdoor space, ask yourself if your home is balanced. If it isn’t, ask yourself what is throwing it off. Can you add a large tree? Maybe three shrubs? Finding balance in your landscaping may just be the most important thing you do in your outdoor space.