Choosing a color scheme for your landscape is not essential, but does help to create harmony and balance within a design. Use these 8 tools to perfect your color choices:
Choose one of following color principles:
- Monochromatic Color - combines varying shades of a single color
- Analogous Color - colors next to each other on the color wheel. These colors tend to blend well. Analogous colors include: red/orange, orange/yellow, yellow/green, green/blue, blue/violet, violet/red. You can also combine three colors, such as, red/orange/yellow, or violet/blue/red.
- Complimentary Color - colors across from each other on the color wheel, i.e. violet/yellow, red/green, orange/blue.
- Triadic Color - three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel. This color scheme is vibrant, offering a high degree of contrast (red/yellow/blue, or, orange/green/violet)
- Neutral Color - colors that can be used within any color scheme (white, black, grey, silver, brown, and green).
Look at your future landscape. Is it a large or small space? Are you trying to draw the eye toward features you want people to notice or away from eyesores? Selecting either warm or cool colors will help.
- Warm colors (red, yellow, orange) appear to come forward in the landscape, and seem closer than they really are. They make big spaces feel smaller and draw the eye to specific locations.
- Cool colors (blue, violet, green) appear to recede in the landscape, and can make small spaces feel bigger. I you have a small garden, use cool colors to make it seem larger.
Use plants not only for their blooms, but also for their foliage. Some plants are known more for their leaf color than their flowers. You have many color choices to choose from, including, blue, grey, purple, red, variegated, and yellow. When using plants for their foliage color remember to apply the same color principles described above.
Consider the effects of evergreen vs. deciduous plants. Evergreen foliage provides permanent color in the landscape. Deciduous plants drop their leaves for winter, but provide interest in their branch structure and bark. A well designed landscape will, almost always, have a combination of evergreen and deciduous shrubs.
Seasonal changes have an immense impact on color in your landscape. Some plants have significant spring or fall coloration that is quite different from the other seasons (i.e. evergreens new growth in spring, burning bush turns brillant red in autumn). Others hold onto their old flower heads (Hydrangeas), or have colorful berries in winter (Am. Bittersweet, Cranberry Bush Viburnum, Beautyberry, Chokeberry, Firethorn, Holly, Winterberry). Ornamental grasses turn golden tan in winter. Use the seasonality of color to add interest and beauty to your landscape year round.
Color on structures can complement or contrast with plantings. Paint fences and arbors. Include colorful pots, window boxes, or garden furniture in your landscape to add interest.
Plant in groups. Color schemes are more effective when you use large masses of color. The same plant placed in groups of 3, 5 or more, will provide more visual interest. Avoid planting just one unless it is large and being used as a focal point.
Use repetition. Repeating certain plants or groups of plants throughout the landscape will unify the space and help draw the eye through the design.