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Core Principles of Our Designs


by Michael Coyle, Lead Designer, OCNT, Ohio Pesticide Applicators License


I hope this summer has had a great start for everyone! The designs have been flowing at M.J. Design Associates, and the installations of the designs are making their way into the yards of our clients at a record pace!

Now, speaking of design and installation, let’s discuss the principles of landscape design—and how we incorporate these principles into our designs to make for a lush, colorful, and free-flowing landscape.

The basic design principles for landscaping comes down to 4 core elements:

Proportion, Order, Repetition and Unity. At M.J. Design Associates we take these principles into account by creating a naturalistic design. These principles are at the core of our company—and we will continue to always strive to follow these principles.

Design Plan Example


Proportion is regarding size and how plant material and the home can work together. By using large shrubs or ornamental trees on corners of the home, we begin to frame in the house and direct the view to certain elements (ie: The front door, a particular set of windows, a statue, etc).


Order is referring to the organization and the balance of the landscape. Order and balance can best be described as symmetrical for more formal landscapes (English gardens, which by the way are not low maintenance) or asymmetrical designs, where the planting layout is differentiated by using, for example, one large shrub on a corner of the home, or three smaller shrubs on the other corner.


Repetition is referring to how the plants are repeated throughout the landscape beds, creating predictability within the beds. We like to create natural and free-flowing designs/installations, where we are using some of the same plant material in other parts of the property. This can only be achieved by taking into account the microclimate conditions around the property (sun, shade, wind, dry/wet soil, etc). By keeping repletion in mind, we create visually interesting beds, where your eye is not overwhelmed with tons of different plants.


Last, but not least, we have Unity—referring to the idea that everything is connected and tied together using a design style (formal vs. informal, color schemes/theory, modern vs. classical, etc.) While meeting with you, the client, we discuss what your style might be and then begin to work that into our designs/installations while educating on the importance of maintenance, because no quality landscape is maintenance free!


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