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Anyone that has an artistic mind and good taste, as well as some gardening knowledge, can create a beautiful yard on their own. But to create a true artistic work of any magnitude, you need a born and trained artist. True artistic genius is a natural endowment more so than education. There are many things that need to be understood when it comes to landscaping, and once these basic principles are learned, they become second nature.

The order and relative importance of the several principles involved in this art may be understood most easily by a study of the unity, variety, motive, character, propriety and finish of any landscape. These qualities are ultimate and coordinate, but surprisingly, not equally important. Each work of landscape art is to be tested separately for each of these qualities.

Unity and coherence are not synonymous, but are closely related. You can place a few similar objects together and create unity and cohesion. However, if you place objects without any similarity, it is possible to create a unified look; but if the objects have no natural or obvious relation, they will not cohere.

The idea of unity in a landscaping sense is that there will be one idea that is apparent throughout the whole area, and all other details will be subordinate to it. The style of expression must be chosen and followed at all times. It must not be varied unless you have a very wide area of space to work in. Each item in your composition should contribute to the overall perfection of the style, otherwise it should not be used.

Most people, including landscape gardeners, believe that as long as the general outlines for the landscape are determined by a master artist, the rest of the construction and minor details can be left to a planter, florists, or the owner himself.

Unity will be impossible if there are too many people controlling the plan. The artist must be the one directing the landscape design, and must have a clear and definite concept of what the finished product should be. This idea must be followed with precision so that no item, no matter how desirable, can be used if it is not in harmony with the overall theme.

A definite plan will need to be established and written down on paper. If this is not done, the problem will be time. As time goes on, the plan will become unclear and fade because it is not recorded. Finishing a landscaping design can take an entire season; the overall theme could be lost by the time the end is reached. This means the last additions could be out of harmony with the original concept.

The plan needs to be drawn out on a sturdy paper in a good ink with proper specifications and dimensions. Make sure your latitude is correct, so no errors can be made. At this point you should not sway from the original design for alterations.

When creating the landscape, it is important to follow directions to a “t”. If you mess up on one single detail, it can affect the entire setting. This may not be noticeable until the product is finished, creating an obvious mistake. One single broken line can ruin the harmony in your art, and create total disunity.