In the pursuit of a well-balanced and varied landscape design, shape and form are crucial elements, contributing to various form and style themes. Here we’ll demystify these often obscure terms to help you gain a better understanding of the design process and communicate the vision you might have for your Somers, NY yard to our experienced landscape professionals.
What’s the difference between shape and form?
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the difference is distinct. Shape refers to the two-dimensional properties of an object, the silhouette of a tree or the outline of a swimming pool seen from a top story window, for example, while form refers to the qualities of a three-dimensional object - a shaped hedge or rock formation. It’s worth remembering that shape and form exist not only as single, isolated elements, but also in the interaction between smaller elements to form larger shape and form clusters. An example of this would be the forms created by the foliage of different types of plants to create variation in plant beds.
The importance of shape
Shape arguably forms the most elemental structure of your landscape design. The shapes of flowerbeds, ponds and facets of architecture work together to complement and enhance one another while contributing to a visually interesting landscape design. This creates a basis on which three-dimensional forms can be arranged in bringing the entire design together. Vertical shapes are equally important, creating interesting line and structural components of a design - silhouettes and shadows created by landscape lighting, the shape of the materials used in vertical hardscaped elements and the shapes of flowers or leaves, for example, are all taken into consideration when putting together a successful design.
The importance of form
Form contributes to the attractive three-dimensional qualities in a landscape, such as the flow between outdoor areas, the topography of the landscape, as well as smaller elements, such as hedges, trees, foliage and hardscaped structures like outdoor fireplaces and retaining walls. A variety of form prevents a landscape from appearing stark. Rounded, natural forms can soften a hardscaped surface, outdoor structure or the sharp angles of a home’s architecture. Rigid forms can be used to create order, provide a clear distinction between two outdoor areas (i.e low or retaining walls) and introduce visual weight.
Geometric and freeform landscape themes
When working with a landscape designer, one of the first things you may have to decide on is what kind of form theme you’d like to introduce to your landscape. Geometric designs rely on clean lines, clear shapes and more organized form. This kind of style is often employed in formal landscapes with neatly carved out flowerbeds, square hedges, and walkways running at sharp or right angles. This is also a feature of modern landscape designs that rely on the shape and form of elements to create visual interest rather than decorative elements. Freeform designs rely on more organic shapes and forms - winding walkways, meandering lines, trees and shrubs without strict form and retaining walls that follow the natural lay of the land. This can be employed in a number of design themes including country, cottage and rustic styles, and other generally more relaxed styles.