Rhythm in the Garden

example of rhythm in the garden

Last weekend marked two musical firsts for my younger kids. My 16-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son attended their first concerts. Both experienced an energetic performance by Judah and the Lion, then my daughter was able to experience a theatrical Katy Perry the next day. It made me think about how much my mom influenced us with her love of music when we were young. She constantly played the radio and was the cool mom that had to watch every moment of MTV when it first appeared in the early 80s. My older brother kept me up late playing the drums with his band, my uncle generously shared Beatle albums with us, my younger brother and I would dance for hours to Michael Jackson and now my own kids dabble in a variety of instruments.

Though I don't play an instrument myself, music weaves through my past and present in many meaningful ways. One way is through my love of landscape design, which is like music in three-dimensional form. The beauty of a garden is expressed through its dynamic nature...and how one can move through it. Carefully thought out patterns paired with repetition can create mesmerizing rhythm (like a musical beat) that pulls one through a lovely space. I've created a graphic below to explain rhythm in the garden.



  • Repeat an element like stepping stones, strong plant forms, columns, posts, etc. in a linear or cyclical pattern.

  • Make the repetitive element even more interesting by disrupting the pattern once in awhile with a different shape or color.

  • Allow the repetitive pattern to lead your eye (and body!) to a focal point or to another area in the garden. Rhythm can be powerful in this way! Use it to your advantage.

  • Create slow rhythm when walking on a path by spacing elements farther apart (like stepping stones), adding a curve or making an incline.

  • Increase the rhythmic speed by placing items close or keeping a path straight.

I've also included a collection of garden photos that demonstrate rhythm below. Look at each one and see if you can find the repetitive, rhythmic pattern. Does it draw you into the garden or simply move your eye around the space? 

Now I encourage you to think about how rhythm can be swirled into your garden. Do you need a rhythmic path to connect two special spaces or simply an interesting fence line to lead your eye across your garden while sitting on a patio? Either way rhythm is a lovely way to add a dynamic musical beat to your outdoor space.

For additional images of rhythm in the garden please take a peek at my Pinterest board here.


Would you like to learn some great tips on garden design + landscape graphics? Subscribe to my free newsletter: THE PENCIL CASE. Trust me, it will be lots of fun. I'll even let you take a peek at past issues here.
Let's do this!