Design Element: Line

Using lines is one of the simplest design elements and the foundation to all others.  A line is simply two connected dots, but it may be horizontal, vertical, straight, or curved. Lines may also be thick, thin, diagonal, and wavy.  Lines can be used to add structure, frame a view, or be utilized to draw attention away.  Line can be found anywhere in the landscape where two different materials meet or in the outline and combination of your favorite plants.  Other common lines are fences, bed lines, and hardscape lines.


Landscape Design Pool Line

A combination of vertical and horizontal lines can create a dynamic view.

Horizontal lines are commonly used in the landscape to lead viewers. A horizontal line will stop your eye and direct you along your way. Typical horizontal lines in the garden can be found along walkways and borders.  Low garden walls and hedges create a sense of space and relaxation.  While long horizontal lines will make a space feel larger.

Post and Rail Fence Landscape Design

A low horizontal fence leads the eye.

Vertical (forward)
Long vertical lines draw the eye forward and upward.  Planting a tall tree in the right spot can add verticality to your home and will make your outdoor space feel larger.  Choose vertical and narrow plant material as accents in your garden for the same effect.

Landscape Design Hydrangea

An arbor or a well-placed birdhouse adds a vertical element and welcomes visitors.

Straight lines are very strong and impactful. They are commonly seen in formal gardens and more modern garden design.  Try adding a garden accessory or specimen plant at the end of a straight line as a garden focal point. Straight lines are more commonly found in hardscaping and can be emphasized using similarly placed plants and hedges.

Landscape Walkway

A bench and gravel serve as a focal point at the end of this straight path.

Curved lines take the viewer a journey.  Generally considered very natural and relaxing, curved garden beds are very inviting and provide opportunity for surprises around every bend.  The use of curves in the landscape can dramatically soften a space adding interest and style.

Curved Garden Beds

By Kristen Kelly, CNLP

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