• Anne Gunning

R2111 What is cohesion when planning a garden?

Updated: May 3, 2021

Learning outcomes:

Understand how to incorporate key elements into a cohesive garden design

7.1 Describe how elements of hard landscaping should be selected and used to ensure that a design is cohesive.

7.2 Describe how elements of soft landscaping should be selected and used to ensure that a design is cohesive.

7.3 Describe how other materials and items (e.g. Garden furniture) should be selected and used to ensure that a design is cohesive.


The dictionary definition of cohesion is ‘The sticking together of particles of the same substance’ or ‘working well together’

In Garden design, cohesion is how similar elements within and outside the garden ‘stick together’ and work well together, looking good as a whole. While the garden principle of ‘unity’ looks at elements inside the garden and how they relate to each other, cohesion also considers how the garden relates to features and landscape outside the garden which will include the house and the local environment.

The key thing to remember here is that nowadays many gardens are enclosed by boundaries which exclude the outside view so often we don't have to consider whether the inside matches the outside. Whether the house matches the garden is very important for front gardens but not so important for back gardens which are mostly viewed from the house.

The following table outlines ways to achieve cohesion within the garden, between house and garden and between the garden and the surrounding environment.

Cohesion achieved by using the same colour for hard and soft landscaping elements. Pink fence, pergola structure, gravel, chairs and plants.

Modern metal pergola ties in well with the modern metal framework of the building.

Traditional style Lutyens Bench fits in well with the formal style garden.

Cohesion: Seating material and colour matches the surrounding fence but do the log seats and paving style match? The paving is quite modern and formal whereas the logs are rustic and informal. Personally I do not think this is cohesive but that is just my oppinion.

Cohesion: Rustic bench in rustic woodland setting.

Cohesion: Informal beanbag seating sits well in a low softly textured relaxing space.

Both pictures above - Cohesion is provided by using the same natural sandstone material for alpine garden display troughs, walls and steps.

Cohesion: The Japanese theme gives the space unity with planting, artefacts and boundaries reflecting this style.

Cohesion: Formal pool in formal garden.

In the 2 pictures above, cohesion is achieved by using natural slate (Tavistock Stone) quarried locally in Devon for walls, house and steps. These materials provide cohesion within the garden space and match the materials used in the surrounding landscape.

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