Using Pattern In Garden Design

Using Pattern In Garden Design

Did you know that one of the secrets to creating beautiful spaces is pattern? Here’s how we use pattern in garden design.

The human brain loves patterns.  Somehow, pattern is orderly, easy to navigate and therefore comforting.  Whereas the lack of any kind of symmetry, repetition or pattern creates a sense of chaos, which, in some people, leads to anxiety.

There are probably patterns in your every day life that you are barely aware of, yet if those patterns are disrupted, your mood will be affected.  Do you take the same route to work each day? That’s a pattern. Do you arrange your cutlery drawer in a certain way? Again, that’s a pattern.  Supermarkets are all laid out in a similar pattern so that shoppers don’t have to think too hard.  Ditto for websites.  Pattern is everywhere.

Why Use Pattern In Garden Design?

Pattern helps our brains to interpret a garden in a calm and logical way. We use large patterns – such as the layout to bring order to the space.  We use repetition, such as regularly spaced trees or stepping stones to guide the eye. And we use smaller patterns to create subtle focal points – a mosaic inset for example or a patterned privacy screen.  It’s all about avoiding sensory overload and making it easy for our brains to process information about our immediate environment.

Let’s think for a moment about symmetry.  Scientific research tells us that we humans are most attracted to faces that are symmetrical.  There are lots of theories as to why that might be, but the fact remains, regular, repeated features appeal to us.  Maybe that’s why supermarkets feel that nobbly potatoes and wonky carrots are harder to sell. Don’t get me started on that one!

Broken or non-existent patterns can ring alarm bells in our brains.  Would you be happy living in a home where the brickwork is higgledy piggledy? How about fences and gates? Evenly spaced timber slats look strong, a few bits of wood nailed together any-old-how tends to give a negative impression.

Symmetry is closely related to pattern – although not all beautiful gardens are perfectly symmetrical, all of them incorporate format, sequencing, theme or consistency of style. That’s what gives them the wow factor.

overview of garden layout for a newbuild garden designed by tapestry design studios

A garden layout with a strong pattern.  Can you see any other patterns in the design?  The arrangement of the paving slabs perhaps? Or the spacing of the fence posts?

Where Can We Use Pattern In The Garden?

  • Repeating shapes in a layout plan.  Eg circular lawns, patios and flower beds.
  • Features such as railings, fence panels, brickwork.
  • Laying patterns for paths and patios.
  • Regularly spaced trees.
  • Repeated colour patterns in garden borders.
  • Carefully arranged pots and planters.
  • Using a limited palette of materials and repeating them throughout the garden.
  • Careful choice of colours in garden structures – echoing colours of the property throughout the garden

Examples Of Pattern In Garden Design

OK, less of the waffle. Let’s look at some practical examples of pattern in garden design. 

coastal themed garden with low maintenance planting

Here’s a clear example of a pattern created by plants.  The group of 3 taller plants near the fence line are equally spaced, as are the ornamental grasses planted around the water feature.

modern garden makeover for a sloping garden

Lots of patterns in this garden! Those steps have been carefully designed to lead the eye to the back of the garden where three trees have been strategically placed. The same materials have been used throughout the space for a calm, ordered feeling and look at the position of the table and chairs – they contribute to the overall design too.

geometric garden for a country cottage 

The design for this garden reflects the footprint of the house. It’s a pattern often used in garden design but it’s possibly not something that your concious brain would notice.  However, the subconcious brain will certainly pick up on the symmetry and the proportions making the garden appear pleasing to the eye.


swoosh shaped bed cut into the lawn

Here’s a rather different pattern designed to echo shapes found in nature. This pattern cut into the lawns at Helmingham Hall Gardens, is in fact, a perfect spiral as seen on snail shells.

beautifull laid porcelain patio demonstrating the importance of pattern in garden design

Finally, a very simple laying pattern with a reminder that when you use pattern in garden design it MUST be well executed.  These porcelain pavers were laid by the excellent landscapers at Holland Landscapes.  Can you imagine how different they would appear if the joints were uneven or the slabs were not perfectly aligned. 


Do you need help using pattern in garden design?  Call or email the team at Tapestry Design Studios, we offer a cost effective garden design service with 2D, 3D and virtual walkthroughs available for all of our designs.

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