Limit your plant selections
Give the stars of each bed―such as these barrel cactus―enough room to show off. Then restrict the supporting cast to a few plants that complement them.
Stone mulches cover the bare soil, emphasizing the clean, graphic look.
Why it works: Well-spaced plants, arranged by kind, are more calming than a chaotic jumble of different types. You can appreciate each one’s form more easily.
Adapt the idea: If cactus won’t be happy where you live, plant a grid of carex, deer grass, or Phormium tenax ‘Jack Spratt’.