July sidled in quietly under the radar, aloft on Monday night’s storms.  We barely noticed its arrival, other than June quickly ran out of days, and we flipped the calendar once again.  We are mere days away from the 4th of July, not only an important and special holiday, but it also marks the point in which summer amps up and sprints to the finish line.  In other words, the 4th of July signifies the beginning of the end of the season.  I can’t say I’m sad, but I will admit time is flying, and seasons are fleeting, so enjoy it while you can.

I have a pet-peeve.  Well, I have many, but I will duly concentrate on one for the benefit of this blog and its respective readers.  Scale.  Better yet, the lack of attention paid to scale in the landscape.  Scale can be defined as the size of elements in relation to each other.  Also known as proportion.  Scale can refer to plants and landscape structures in relation to the house, yard space, and sometimes other plants and landscape structures.  It may seem unimportant and superfluous, but trust me, it is not.  Chances are you have noticed something in your own landscape that doesn’t look quite right – perhaps out of balance.  This, my friends, is scale.

One of the goals in landscaping is to create relationships that are both visually appealing and somewhat unified.  Jarring, scattered landscapes don’t lend themselves well to a soothing and aesthetically pleasing environment.  Take the following into consideration and avoid some of the pitfalls of scale.

The rule of thirds should be considered when dealing with relatively simple designs.  For example, the elements or dimensions that relate to each other are done in a 1:3 or 2:3 ratio.  This is particularly important when dealing with linear dimensions.  The rule of thirds can also be applied to plant selection, but is followed a bit more loosely as plant sizes aren’t always exact, so use a range instead.  Take container plantings.  A visually pleasing and properly scaled container should be 1/3 container to 2/3 plant height.  In other words, the plant material should be twice as tall as the container.  The rule of thirds is just one tactic.  Mainly, you’ll need to use your eye for detail and intuition when deciding proper scale and proportion.

A tiny bird bath placed in an expanse of large trees will get lost while the same bird bath placed amongst smaller perennials works just fine.  Starting to get the picture?  Tiny, little planters or containers placed near the entry of a home or on either side of a garage look miniscule and unimportant.  Conversely, an oversized statue in a small bed can overwhelm the space and quickly throw the environment out of balance.  A single, large-scale object makes a bigger impression than a cluster of small objects.  It also tends to look tidier and purposeful.  When the sky is your ceiling, it’s difficult to go too big unless the space itself is rather confined.

Scale and proportion are some of the more difficult landscape concepts to achieve.  Take a step back and really look at your spaces.  Is there balance?  Is their harmony?  Is it visually pleasing?  If not, make adjustments where necessary, remember the rule of thirds, and call Sweeney’s.  We’ll help you get your landscape back into scale and balance.

“It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.”

-J. Horace McFarland

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney