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Sunday, October 2, 2022
Growing Together: Using lines, paths or plants to inspire sense of flow

Last week, I wrote about the importance of a sense of flow in your landscape. 

That refers to the way people move through the space physically, but it also means how the eye is led around the garden. 

I said you should choose your style before deciding on curved lines or a more linear, geometric style. The style you choose doesn’t just relate to the bed shapes, but also applies to the patio, deck or walkways. The lines of the beds should flow right into the lines of your hard surfaces.

One way to create a sense of flow in your landscape is with the actual lines of the gardens, sitting areas and other elements. Remember it is always better to go with fewer, but bigger and bolder lines, instead of many smaller and busier curves. 

The same thing holds true for geometric lines. Straight lines jutting in and out create a busy, even chaotic look and your eyes just do not know where to go.

If using geometric lines, whether vertical or horizontal, be sure they all running parallel with one another. I usually keep the corners at a 90-degree angle, but you can do a 60/30 angle as well – just be consistent throughout the design. 

Try to create a single curved or geometric line that you can pick up on at any point and follow that line around the entire yard. It should take you right back to where you started. This line should also incorporate the different elements in your design like the patio, pool, shed, playground etc. Flaring the line of a bed or sidewalk into a fence line or the line of the driveway can visually make your lines continue, giving a sense of flow.

You can combine a geometric-shaped walkway or patio with curved beds or a circular sitting area with geometric shaped beds. You can even mix curved lined beds with straight lines. The key is keeping very strong, simple lines. Instead of wavy lines, make a true circle (or half or two-thirds of a circle) and bring straight lines off the circle.

Pathways are another option. A path can physically lead you around the garden and be used to connect separated elements, such as a patio and shed, or lead you from the driveway around to the side garage door. It can then lead you into the backyard. 

A path may also lead you to a quiet sitting area in the back corner. It maintains your interest and might offer the odd hidden surprise. A path can give your visitor permission and direction to explore your garden. There is nothing more inviting than following along a path that goes around a curve and seems to disappear. It makes you want to see where it will lead you. 

Your eye will automatically pick up on the line of a path and follow wherever it leads. And yes, your pathways can be made from different materials. 

The repetitive use of certain plants or structures throughout the garden also can create a sense of flow and help your eye move around the yard. Look at the shape of the plant, whether it is pyramidal, spikey or perfectly rounded. When you repeat groupings of the same shape of plants through the gardens, your eye will automatically scan the area and pick up on that repetitive pattern. Again, when choosing a plant shape, think about your desired style.

As well, repeating the colour of the flowers or leaves can help guide the eye about the garden.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at