Line, as a Design Element

Line as a Landscape Design Element

 in the Northeast Florida Landscape

Lines are the life force of the landscape, they are what we use to guide the eye movement, the body’s actions, and even the body’s emotions as they are influenced by the landscape that surrounds them.

Line can be used in the landscape to create intentional movement through the space. Think of a walkway to a garden gate or to the front door. those lines are leading you through the space.

Line can also be used to invoke specific feelings in the landscape a straight line tells us its a no funny business progression through an area while a meandering curved line invites us to casually explore our environment and its surroundings. The feelings that are created (or inferred) by the way the plant beds encompass each other or transition from one to the other when in close proximity to one another in the landscape. 

The line made by plant beds and hardscapes can create spaces or ‘ rooms’ in the landscape, enlarge an area, and even connect spaces and architectural elements together.

Take a look here at how a landscape designer may use different types of lines as an element of art in the landcsape setting.

Curved Lines:

 – informal or natural in appearance

 – graceful, smooth and gentle on the eye

 – creates a relaxed atmosphere and lends itself towards asymmetrical plantings.

Uses: Leads the eye or the person more slowly through the landscape setting creating a more relaxed feel. I think of a curved line as an invitation for the eye, or the people, to stop and spend more time discovering the secret treasures to be found in the landscape.

Caution: Large sweeping curves are relaxing and inviting, strong short curves are delineating and when used repeatedly can cause confusion and a feeling of unrest or turmoil in the landscape. Just as on a painters canvas repeated sharp short curves would be used to indicate the termoil of a storm in open water.

Straight Lines:

 – formal in appearance

 – symmetrical design element

 – structural, stable, and directional

Uses: Quickly lead the eye or the person through an area in a clearly defined and intentional direction.


The straight line of a driveway or sidewalk, used to lead people quickly and easily though a space to the desired destination.

Caution : can be forceful or harsh if too dominant or if not softened by surrounding elements.

Horizontal Lines:

 – move the eye along the lower plane

 – can enlarge the feel of a space

 –  can add a subtle relaxed feel to the landscape

  Uses: Horizontal lines are used to delineate space as well as tie spaces together.

Vertical Lines:

– move the eye up to the overhead plane

– enlarge a space

– attract attention to a specific area in the landscape

Uses: Vertical lines in the landscape will include trees, pergolas and arbours, lighting poles, bird houses, vine trellises and so on. They can be used to soften a straight line of a fence, attract attention to a destination point, accent a specific area of a home or landscape and more.

Caution: Vertical lines in the landscape add a feeling of activity or movement. Vertical lines can be spaced at a farther distance from one another in informal or relaxed settings and close together in formal settings.