F i g u r e 9 color study visual weight visual weight

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F I G U R E 9. Color study Visual Weight Visual weight is the concept that combinations of certain features have more importance in the composition based on mass and contrast. Some areas of a composition are more noticeable and memorable, while others fade into the background. This does not mean that the background features are unimportant—they create a cohesive look by linking together features of high visual weight, and they provide a resting place for the eye. A composition where all features have high visual weight often looks chaotic because the eye tends to bounce between the features. High visual weight usually comes from a group of plants with one or a few of the following characteristics: upright or unusual forms, large size, bright colors, bold texture, and diagonal lines. Low visual weight is found in low horizontal lines, prostrate or low forms, fine texture, and subdued or dull colors (Figure 10).
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7 F I G U R E 1 0. Visual weight by mass and contrast Principles of Design Design principles guide designers in organizing elements for a visually pleasing landscape. A harmonious composition can be achieved through the principles of proportion, order, repetition, and unity. All of the principles are related, and applying one principle helps achieve the others. Physical and psychological comfort are two important concepts in design that are achieved through use of these principles. People feel more psychologically comfortable in a landscape that has order and repetition. Organized landscapes with predictable patterns (signs of human care) are easier to “read” and tend to make people feel at ease. Psychological comfort is also affected by the sense of pleasure that a viewer perceives from a unified or harmonious landscape. Users feel more physically comfortable, function better, and feel more secure in a landscape with proportions compatible to human scale. Proportion Relative proportion is the size of an object in relation to other objects. Absolute proportion is the scale or size of an object. An important absolute scale in design is the human scale (size of the human body) because the size of other objects is considered relative to humans. Plant material, garden structures, and ornaments should be considered relative to human scale. Other important relative proportions include the size of the house, yard, and the area to be planted. Proportion in plants Proportion can be found in plant material relative to people (Figure 9), the surrounding plants, and the house. When all three are in proportion, the composition feels balanced and harmonious. A feeling of balance can also be achieved by having equal proportions of open space and planted space. Using markedly different plant sizes can help to achieve dominance (emphasis) through contrast with a large plant.
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