Flower beds are a common feature of landscaping that creates a focal location for colorful perennials and annuals to add beauty to your yard. Flower beds often appear in the front yard, creating a welcoming effect at the entryway. Before starting a front flower bed, homeowners must answer some landscaping questions—such as whether a symmetrical flower bed is appropriate.
Front flower beds don’t have to be symmetrical. Their design depends on the homeowner’s preference between a symmetrical and asymmetrical style. Nonetheless, there are situations where symmetrical flower beds are best, like in front of a traditional design house or in narrow spaces.
In this article, you’ll find some basic ideas on balance in landscaping design. These ideas will help you understand the core question of whether using symmetry creates balance in landscaping. I’ll also give you five practical tips for creating symmetry in front flower beds.
When Should Front Flower Beds Be Symmetrical?
Homeowners or owners of office or commercial buildings can decide if they want a symmetrical or asymmetrical front flower bed, depending on their preferences. That’s because some people find order in uniformity and go for a symmetrical front flower bed, while others find order in diversity—and opt for asymmetrical balance.
That said, there are situations where a symmetrical front flower bed works better than an asymmetrical one.
Here are three situations where a symmetrical front flower bed is the best choice:
You Have a Traditionally Designed Home
If you have a traditionally designed home with a formal appearance like the English or French manor houses, a symmetrical front flower bed is an ideal landscaping design.
In this case, you can use the house’s focal point, such as the entrance door or a front fountain, to create the central point for the two sides of the flower bed. You may then arrange The plants and flowers in the flower bed to mirror each other on both sides of the focal point.
You Are Landscaping a Narrow Space
If the front of your home is a narrow space, using symmetrical balance to create a flower bed can help capture the eye of the viewer so that it focuses on the center point.
A narrow space could be a pathway leading to the front door with limited spaces between the path and the fence, serving as the space for the flower beds. Creating mirror images of plants and flowers on both sides makes the viewer see perfect symmetry that leads straight to the center point, even before exploring the details of each side.
You Are Using a Specific Garden Theme
There are originally symmetrical garden themes typically used to create gardens that are not mere decorations—but to impress the eye of anyone who passes by.
Examples of garden themes that use symmetrical balance include:
Renaissance Theme Gardens
Renaissance-style gardens have origins in Rome and Florence in Italy, and later in France and England. Their main characteristic is classical aesthetics built on order, beauty, and harmony.
Specific aspects of the renaissance style gardens include:
- Balance through symmetrical planting
- Geometrical flower beds and ornamental shrubs
- Perfectly pruned hedges
- Use of color to show balance and restraint
- The use of focal structures like statues, porticos, and fountains
Colonial Theme Gardens
Colonial gardens differed in style but usually held the colonies’ fruit, vegetable, herbal, and flowering plants.
The main features of symmetry in colonial-style gardens include:
- Central gravel, soil, or clamshell walkways that lead to a center point, such as a well or stone structure
- Geometrical raised beds framed with trees
- Tight plant rows to make the most of the available space
- Picket fences and hedges around the garden
You can use Both the renaissance and the colonial themes in front flower beds to create symmetry, with or without surrounding fences.
How To Create Symmetry in Flower Beds
If you are creating a symmetrical front flower bed from scratch, the first thing you need to do is study your front yard. You can then use the elements of landscape design to determine the rest of the details. These elements of landscape design include:
- Line: This imaginary or real line directs eye movement through the flower bed and determines how the plants and flowers flow together with other structures like a path or a central front door.
- Mass: This term describes the area or space that a plant, flower, or other structure in the flower bed occupies.
- Texture: This term points to the physical aspects of a plant or flower concerning other plants and flowers on the flower bed. Coarse texture plants or flowers have large leaves or petals and offer a bold appearance. Delicate texture plants and flowers have small leaves and petals and appear dainty and elegant.
- Color: Color gives form to the other three elements. Warm colors like yellow, orange, and red give a feeling of excitement and closeness, while cool colors like blue and green give a sense of calm. Combining these with other colors like purple and white can accentuate or reduce the warmth or coolness of the colors.
Expert Tips for Creating a Symmetrical Front Flower Bed
- Determine the flower bed center point. This point sets out the axis of symmetry, which will serve as a reference for the two identical sides of the garden. The entrance door or fountain could mark a center point, or it could be from the landscaper’s imagination and used to set the flower bed balance.
- Choose the plants for the flower bed. The choice of plants is essential and depends on how you want your garden to look and how much work you want to invest in it.
For example, including a hedge shrub means regular pruning to maintain height and shape. As for the type of plants, consider mixing perennials with annuals that you can change seasonally to vary the flower bed’s appearance.
- Decide on the flower bed’s shape and use the focal point to draw the line that separates the two sides. Replicate the position and type of plants and flowers on each side to create a symmetrical mirror image on each side of the flower bed.
- Create a balance between bright and dull colors. Poorly combining colors can be a distraction to the viewer’s eye. When you combine them carefully—it directs the viewer’s eye to the central point. Dark colors tend to move from the viewer, while brighter ones appear to be close to the viewer. If you use purple, consider putting it next to the warm colors where it seems cool. Instead, use white to create contrast and separate contrasting colors.
- Clip any hedges around the flower bed and any shrubs in the flower bed in formal shapes. Hedges could be box-shaped, while you may clip shrubs in lime or hornbeam shapes.
Symmetry in Landscape Design
Symmetry is an aspect of balance, one of the principles of landscaping design. Homeowners and professional landscapers use these principles to create illusions of distance and depth, consistency, color variation, proportion, contrast and harmony, and a sense of equality. This last aspect is known as balance and is one of the fundamental principles applied in designing a front flower bed.
In landscaping, balance creates perceived equilibrium by arranging the elements that occupy the space you are landscaping. This balance can either be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Symmetrical Balance (Formal Balance)
Symmetrical balance is a landscaping design where the two sides of a central point are identical. This balance explains why landscapers often refer to symmetry in landscaping as “mirror imaging.”
If you make a front flower bed using symmetrical balance, you will produce a balanced appearance by creating identical images on each side of a centerline. You could mark the centerline from a front door, window, focal plant, or another structure at the front of the home.
The centerline in a symmetrical flower bed could also be imaginary. The landscaper uses the imaginary line to create two identical sides in the flower bed.
Asymmetrical Balance (Informal Balance)
When creating asymmetrical balance, landscapers do not create mirror images on both sides of the garden. Instead, they work with the visual weight of plants and flowers to create balance.
In a front flower bed, a landscaper could use a single large plant on one side and three smaller plants on the opposite side. You will perceive the three plants on one side as having equal visual mass with the single plant on the opposite side. Doing this will create the intended asymmetrical balance.
Although the two sides are not identical, the view is balanced because the plants and flowers have similar visual weight.
For more information on creating a balanced front garden, check out my article: Can You Mix Straight Lines and Curves in a Garden?
The front yard forms the first impression for anyone coming to your home. Flower beds are a common feature in front yards. Depending on their design, front flower beds can make or break the intended welcoming effect. But should front flower beds be symmetrical to create an appealing entryway?
Front flower beds can be symmetrical or asymmetrical and still create balance and appear pleasing to the eye. You should ensure you design your front flower beds to make a harmonious combination of plants, flowers, and other structures in the yard.
Should front flower beds be symmetrical? The choice is yours!