Yin / Yang in the Garden - A Landscape Design Tip

The High Point / Shady Corner Balance – Serenity Assured

A truly harmonious outdoor space is a blend of both open space and shady shelter. The counterbalance of these two opposites can be seen as the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ of the landscape. 
Johnsen Landscapes & Pools - www.johnsenlandscapes.com

A high point or open level lawn is bright and forceful, ‘yang’. A sheltered shady spot is muted and soft or ‘yin’. Seeing the world through the complementary lens of yin and yang is an eye opening exercise. Gardens containing both qualities feel balanced and comfortable. Therefore shady sites near open sunny lawns are thoroughly enjoyable places to sit.

A note:  moderation is the key to a tranquil and harmonious outdoor space.  Stay away from extremes of ‘yang’ or ‘yin’. For example, if a high point is too high or too exposed, it can be feel scattered.  Likewise, if a low area is too deep or shady, it feels stagnant.  But an open lawn ringed by trees is a delightful balance of yin - shade and yang - openness.

You can create this juxtaposition in any size space. Below is a photo from Sevilla, Spain. The Moorish garden designers were masters of this counterbalance - open and closed, pooling and channelling, sunlight and shade.


  1. I came across your blog.Its really nice.

  2. Thank You for your comments! I really appreciate them.....encourages me to add more :-)!

  3. Gode billeder.
    Hvor er der smuk.
    Tak for kigget.

  4. You are welcome and thank you for your kind Danish words.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. I think a great garden must have personality that sets it apart.
    When designing gardens, plants are thoughtfully chosen to provide necessary color, shape and form. Consideration is also given to the maintenance needs of the garden, including the time or funds available for regular maintenance, which can affect the choices of plants regarding speed of growth. Thanks for sharing such good post.
    Sydney landscaping

  7. I agree: balance is an important consideration when putting together a garden design. Carefully select the elements that you will use. Follow this up with proper spacing of said elements so as to create smooth transition areas in the whole garden. And lastly, share the beauty of the garden with the people that you love.

  8. Exactly. The Chinese have always believed that everything in this world is ought to be balanced. One cannot exist without its counterpart. That’s the concept of Yin and Yang. An ideal garden should be balanced according to its design, structure, and overall concept. For instance, if you put too many plants in a garden, it would look untidy. A garden needs some free space for you to walk around.

  9. Very beautiful pictures, I really love them!


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Getting in the 'Flow' by Gardening

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

Planting Design for Dry Gardens by Olivier Filippi

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

The Tradition of Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan