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Unfurling the Green Mind: The Psychology of Landscape Design for Personal Tranquility

July 4, 2023
 min read

Table Of contents

Hello there! Kenn Cross here, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite design insights with you. Having spent 40 years in interior and landscape design, I've picked up a thing or two about creating spaces that look good and feel good. Whether it's a home or a garden, the magic is all in the details - especially in the art of landscape design. But how does it all tie into psychology, you ask? Let's unravel this intriguing blend of color, texture, and greenery that forms our landscapes and how it influences our minds.

A serene backyard garden, bursting with colorful flowers and lush greenery, designed with careful consideration to elicit feelings of tranquility.


We'll explore the fascinating field of the psychology of landscape design, discussing its principles, the preference of landscape designers for certain personalities, and the effects of physical landscapes on our psyche. We'll delve into how a well-designed landscape can stimulate positive human emotive reactions and contribute to our overall well-being.

Now, you may be thinking - what's psychology got to do with my garden or my patio? You'd be surprised! Let's get down to it.

An illustrative diagram showing the interaction between different elements of landscape design and their influence on human psychology.

The art of landscape design is now grounded in a few key principles. These principles are the building blocks that form the foundation of any successful and aesthetic landscape. But what are these principles?

What are the 7 principles of landscape design?

A collage of different landscapes showcasing the principles of unity, balance, color, texture, line, form, and scale.

These principles range from unity and balance to the use of color, texture, and form, each playing a crucial role in shaping our perceptions and experiences of a space.

What personalities do landscape designers prefer?

You might be surprised to learn that as a landscape designer, I don’t have a preference for specific personalities. It's all about creating a harmonious blend of the environment and the individual, shaped around their unique personality and preferences.

Understanding the psychology behind landscape design allows us to create spaces that perfectly reflect the occupants, whether that's you, a loved one, or anyone else.

How is psychology used in landscape design?

A serene and spacious park with people enjoying a sunny day, displaying the psychological impact of landscape design.

Psychology and landscape intertwine in surprising ways, influencing our perceptions, emotions, and overall mental health.

Whether it's the tranquility we feel when we’re surrounded by a lush green garden or the energy we experience from a vibrant, colorful flower bed, our environments profoundly impact our state of mind. And this is where the magic of landscape design comes into play.

A garden transforming from a monochrome sketch to a vibrant, colorful reality, demonstrating the psychological impact of the design.

Drawing on my experience as a landscape designer, I've observed that specific elements, colors, and arrangements can stir various emotions. For instance, a well-placed bench under a tree's shade can create a sense of calm and peace. Similarly, a vibrant flower bed can instill joy and energy, and a water feature can evoke feelings of tranquility and harmony.

An image showing different areas of a garden, each designed to evoke specific emotions.

Principles of Landscape Design

Taking a deeper look into the principles of landscape design, each one of them is like an ingredient in a recipe, vital to creating a beautiful, harmonious space.

Unity is achieved by maintaining consistency in the character or theme of the landscape. Whether it's through the repetition of specific plant types, similar hardscape materials, or complementary colors, unity creates a sense of coherence and balance.

A harmonious garden with consistent use of plant types and hardscape materials.

Balance can be achieved in two ways - symmetrical or asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is when both sides of the landscape are identical, while asymmetrical balance involves different elements that have equal visual weight.

A symmetrical garden on the left and an asymmetrical one on the right.

Color plays a crucial role in setting the mood of a landscape. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow are vibrant and energetic, while cool colors like blue, green, and purple evoke calm and tranquility.

A vibrant garden with warm colors on the left and a calm garden with cool colors on the right.

Texture, both tactile and visual, adds depth and contrast to a landscape. A variety of textures, from smooth leaves to rough bark, can add interest and enrich the sensory experience of the space.

Close-ups of different plant textures.

Line directs visual movement and attention around the landscape. Curved lines can create a relaxed, natural feel, while straight lines evoke a sense of formality and order.

A garden with curved paths on the left and a garden with straight paths on the right.

Form refers to the shape of plants and structures in the landscape. The careful selection and arrangement of forms can enhance the visual interest and contribute to the overall theme of the landscape.

Different plant forms that contribute to the visual interest of a garden.

Scale involves the proportion of one landscape element to another, or to the landscape as a whole. Proper scaling ensures harmony and balance in the space.

A well-scaled garden with proportional elements.

Through the careful and thoughtful application of these principles, landscape design can create outdoor spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also serve a purpose and evoke certain emotions.

Now let's consider the role of psychology in landscape design. Landscape design is about creating environments that enhance the human experience, stimulate the senses, and nurture the soul. Understanding the psychology behind our interactions with the natural environment allows designers like myself to create spaces that resonate with individuals on a deeper, emotional level.

This understanding draws from the field of environmental psychology, an interdisciplinary field that studies the interaction between humans and their environments. Environmental psychologists have found that well-designed landscapes can significantly enhance our well-being, reduce stress, and increase feelings of happiness and contentment.

A woman in a beautifully designed garden, looking relaxed and content.

Landscape design principles and insights from environmental psychology offer a powerful toolkit for creating spaces that cater to our psychological needs and desires. Whether it's a small city garden or a sprawling national park, a well-designed landscape can provide a sanctuary from the pressures of the modern world, offering a place of peace, relaxation, and connection with nature.

A small city garden, designed with psychological principles in mind, providing a tranquil sanctuary in the urban jungle.

Embrace the Transformation: Your Journey to a Soul-Soothing Landscape Begins Here

So, when it comes to designing your personal spaces, bear in mind these principles and the psychology of landscape design. Remember that your outdoor spaces are not just for aesthetics, they're an extension of your home, your personality and a powerful tool to improve your mental and emotional well-being.

Ready to bring this transformative power of landscape design to your own spaces? To create a haven that resonates with your unique personality, evoking calmness, functionality, freshness, and invigoration? Let's create spaces that are not just visually pleasing but psychologically comforting as well.

And remember, even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. Happy designing!

FAQ Summary

What are the 7 principles of landscape design?

Unity, balance, color, texture, line, form, and scale are the seven principles.

What personalities do landscape designers prefer?

As a landscape designer, there's no specific preference. The goal is to create spaces that reflect the individual's personality and tastes.

What are the 3 major principles of landscape design?

The three major principles are unity, balance, and color.

What is psychology in landscape?

It refers to the influence of our physical environments, such as gardens or parks, on our perceptions, emotions, and mental health.