Garden guide — «general» composition lines


Composition axes in landscape design, these are guide lines that point to certain objects in the garden, which are the leading accents of the entire landscape composition.

Simply put, there are beautiful details in the garden that need to be highlighted. And to do this, first determine their location, and then point the way to them.

By the way, not only a material object of artificial origin can become a beautiful detail, such as: a paved area, a fountain, a waterfall, a pond, a garden figure, a gazebo or other structure surrounded by greenery.

Often the end point of the axis (Point de vue) becomes a natural object: an unusually shaped tree or a beautiful landscape that opens outside the site.

If the site is small, then there can not be many accent details. And even better if it is only one object. In this case, it is located away, almost at the border of the site.
When such an object is a landscape outside the territory (a view of an old windmill, a waterfall, river, sea, hills or even mountains), then you don’t have to look for a location — you have to adapt to the existing realities.

Since there is an end point, there must be a start point. This is a viewpoint: the porch of the house, a place to relax, a gazebo, a gate at the entrance to the garden.

When the science of landscape design was created, there was only one type of garden — regular. The gardens were French, Italian, English, however, they were all located at palaces or around residences and obeyed the laws of geometry.

It was then that the need for compositional axes arose. They were created simply: a straight path led to a given object. The path was framed with hedges, flowering tunnels of arches, or simply laid out with a beautiful pattern.

The gaze involuntarily glides along such a line and stops at a given point, prompting the viewer to reach it.
However, with the development of civilization, beautiful landscapes became available to wider sections of the population, imperceptibly entering almost every private home. Small and bright landscape gardens appeared, large landscapes in the style of «naturgarden», herb gardens, coniferous and «new wave» gardens, as well as a fresh trend — sensory gardens.
These styles do not involve straight lines at all, however, The law of compositional axes works here too. From the point of view to the object, visual contact is established.
That is, being, say, at the gate, you see in the distance an object worthy of attention. However, the path to it runs along a winding line, on the turns of which there may be smaller, but still bright accents that attract attention: beautiful benches, plants in tubsmini-fountains, garden sculptures.
The main thing is that there should be no more than one object on the same line from turn to turn, moreover, the intrigue should be preserved: walking along the path, you cannot see what is on the next leg of the path.

To close the view before turning, hedges, trellises, screens are created, shrubs, trees and tall flower beds are planted. They create a visual barrier

This technique is much more difficult to master than straight lines, however, it creates a romantic atmosphere in the garden.

I talked about only one of the techniques for designing an ornamental garden. You can find the rest of the planning guidelines here.


Landscape design is like painting: there are rules, but in practice there are only exceptions to them. Therefore, you can learn here only by noticing the already existing successful compositions.

In front of you is a small courtyard. It would seem, why set the axis of view here, if the entire territory is in the palm of your hand.

Indeed, you tear off the window sashes and enjoy a small but cozy green corner.

However, you go out onto the porch and see the same thing… Boring.

That is why the view of the site from the porch was covered with a hydrangea bush and a tree.

Now, when you leave the house, you see on the right the line of the fence, along which there are tubs with plants, on the left a hydrangea, and in front of you is paving, which sets the direction of movement with its pattern — to the left diagonally.

Then a mini-lawn and patio open up to the gaze.

Thus, there is a completely different perception of the same picture.

Who said that the guide path should be only a pedestrian? Please, before you water. You won’t be able to walk along it, but she coped with her task perfectly: she showed you the direction of the inspection.

In the photo: again a classic: a straight path, a tunnel of arches and a flowerpot with flowers on a high leg.

And yet there is intrigue. The straight path is not so straight: at first it is interrupted by steps, and when you approach the flowerpot, it will diverge around it in a circle.

Maybe there will be another path to the right or left, leading, for example, to a cozy gazebo or fountain.

Or maybe not…

And how do you like this final accent at the end of the road? I think it’s just luxurious.

The boundary of the plot is framed by a hedge, and there is a window in it.

From it — a view of the natural landscape outside the site.

An intriguing and extraordinary solution.

Outside your garden is a neighbor’s yard?

Then maybe you should just reflect the beauty of your own garden with a mirrored window…

You often see this picture in old parks. And in this small private garden, in order not to shorten the already short distance with a straight path, the main object (fountain) was placed not along the central axis, but in the far corner of the garden.

Thus, it seems that they followed all the rules of a regular garden, but they added intrigue, and also visually increased the length of the site by directing a straight path diagonally.

And the design technique presented in this photo was previously used in architecture. It’s called enfilade. This is when there is a long corridor, passing through which you get into rooms located one after another. Each has its own design.

Here too: from the landscape garden you pass into the herb garden…

The corner gazebo, to which the paving leads, may well be the same point de vue. It’s in a small area. And on a large one, it can only become a starting point of view. It opens two directions of inspection, for example, a view of the river, forest, house.

And here is a natural garden style garden: modest perennials, natural textures of stone and wood. A path of slabs leads into the unknown, which is covered by a piece of rock.

In this section, the compositional axis is the bulk path leading along its borders. Its curves smoothly round off the corner in which a comfortable bench nestled. Here you can spend moments of relaxation, listening to the murmur of a stream and the rustling of bamboo leaves.

And in the narrow gap between the houses, you can create a piece of paradise. In the photo, the long wall of the house, arches and a row of broad-leaved hydrangeas form a corridor, at the end of which you can see a cozy rattan chair.

Before you is a coniferous garden. The camera focus is on the starting point of view, the composition line (path) passes through it, goes around the Aureaspicata spruce to the right, passes a wooden bridge with a railing and ends on a rocky platform, to which a winding paved path leads.

To reach it, you need to wander among the coniferous beauties. And not the fact that the final point will be such. Remember: «And the dot smiled and became a comma …»?

And here is an example of how the finish point becomes a site with an overview of the view beyond the boundaries of the site. The hedge is deliberately created low, however, it is also the compositional axis of this site, dividing the territory into «before» and «after».

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