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Garden Design Essentials: Color

Whoever has walked into a room painted in a dull or garish palette understands the power of color. Color intuitively influences our feelings, if we are at a soothing spa environment or a electrifying casino. In a garden landscape, color has an equally powerful role.

Our color choices can produce a garden that is nurturing, romantic, playful, tranquil or exciting. Even though you might have heard rigorous principles from different gardeners, such as”Never plant anything orange,” or”Don’t use blue, purple or crimson shades in your garden’s mattress and boundaries,” I love to think that any color can fit in a landscape.

Shade is highly subjective, and because it’s so private, you are able to design, plant and decorate your landscape along with your favorites. Let’s follow the rainbow — and lessons from the color wheel to make color choices that establish a disposition, infuse energy or define a theme in an outside setting. Maybe you’ll find new possibilities for your own landscape.

More in this garden design show: Lines | Rhythm | Shape and Mass | Space | Texture

Da Vida Pools, LLC, Andre Del Re & Lisa North, CBP


Vivid reddish commands attention. You can not dismiss this assertive reddish pool — it warms a natural landscape setting and radically defines the distance. The encompassing retaining wall is a milder shade.

Ana Williamson Architect

Interior designers have traditionally energized a quiet room using a splash of crimson — an accent pillow, a piece of pottery or possibly a single wall. In a similar manner, the exterior of this contemporary but neutral home gets a lift with a cherry-red front door.

Classic Nursery & Landscape Co. / Alan Burke, asla

The use of red in tiny doses gives the garden a lively attitude. If pure red is a little too extreme for your taste, try out a tint (lighter) or color (darker). Stretch your use of crimson out of gentle pinks to deep burgundy reds. All these terra-cotta-red Adirondack chairs are eye catching but don’t compete with the natural landscape.

Shirley Bovshow

Just past this garden’s entrance is a sanctuary of crimson flowering salvia planted in a crescent mattress to emphasize the space. Blue-green and turquoise — complementary colors across the color wheel out of crimson — show up at a glazed urn and in the succulent plantings to the right of the red border.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Just a little color goes a long way. Our brains respond more quickly to reddish than any other color, so even a little accent could energize a setting, such as the single red butterfly seat on this tiny covered veranda.


Orange is a vital accent in the garden; its presence naturally elicits a smile. This orange door is welcoming and also lends a moderating bit of warmth to the industrial charcoal along with concrete palette.

Colors Of Green Landscape Architecture

Tangerine touches add whimsy here, yet this landscape is also rather sophisticated. Less is more with orange, along with the designer perfectly balances the bright orange textiles, natural wood furniture and raised beds full of foliage plants. Variations of orange range from terra-cotta to cherry; you don’t need to use a hypnotic orange on its own.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture


Golden foliage can instantly brighten a space and produce a little garden appear larger. Variations of yellow range from warm amber colors to extreme sunflower. This design also shows a monochromatic way of shade. On your own garden, monochromatic might mean blooms, berries or bark in one key shade of the rainbow, such as an all-pink or all-golden border. Monochromatic color comprises all tones of one color, from dark to light.

Related: Focus Your Garden Palette

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

The simple inclusion of 2 marigold-yellow accent cushions makes a contemporary green and gravel garden shine.

Bonick Landscaping


Although it’s relaxing and serene, blue was considered an unattainable garden color as it’s rarely found in nature (consider the pursuit of the rare blue Himalayan poppy or the rose industry’s obsession with breeding a blue hybrid ).

The persuasive presence of blue can appear in your garden with help from a can of periwinkle paint, a turquoise-tile pool or aqua cushions.

Blue cools us down. If you don’t have a swimming pool to attract the serene presence of blue into the landscape, then paint the interior of a birdbath, exhibit a grouping of glazed blue pottery, or put a route with blue tiles.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

As soon as you’ve given particular flower and foliage colours a starring role in the landscape, then use them to guide your decisions for nonplant materials too. Edit and enhance the palette with painted structures, furniture and artful objects. 2 sky-blue rocking chairs make this front porch just as important to the backyard color story as its blooms.

Kathleen Shaeffer Design, Exterior Spaces


that I really like the way this setting reads: It starts with a little cluster of purple blossoms (looks like Geranium‘Rozanne’) and then proceeds to the purple front door and accent shade. A triple-treat! A number of our most cherished garden flowers, such as lilacs and hydrangeas, are purple. But purple is not only an conservative, nostalgic shade. It can be very contemporary in its program. Color experts say that since it is a mix of both energizing relaxing and red blue, purple is a complex color that works well with both warm and trendy schemes.

Lewis Aquatech

Basic Rules of the Color Wheel

Art lessons start with the fundamental principles of the color wheel. Red, blue and yellow are main colors, whilst secondary colours are made from combinations of 2 primaries: orange (red plus yellow); green (blue plus yellow) and purple (red plus blue). Tertiary colours combine one main color with one secondary color.

Adding white to a color creates a tint; adding black to a color creates a colour.

The principal palette of the vibrant blue pool shown has yet another primary accent in the yellow-chartreuse Japanese maple tree, uplit for accent.

Westover Landscape Design, Inc..

Enliven a quiet spot with complementary colors opposite each other on the color wheel. In color theory, opposites are energy-packed visual adventures. Red is contrary green; blue is contrary orange; yellow is contrary purple. From the landscape, green and red are opposites, but the use of turquoise rather than true green bends the rules while making a vivid statement. The horticultural equivalent might be a plant using lime foliage paired with a maroon or wine-color plant.

Exteriorscapes llc

The medium-tone purple wall is an interesting backdrop to the Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica‘Rubra’) planted in front of it, showing use of tertiary color.

Exteriorscapes llc

Tell Your Own Color Story

Define your garden with massed plantings of a popular perennial to echo colors that appear elsewhere (both in your own garden and out of borrowed viewpoints ).

You are able to keep the color palette more extreme in certain areas, allowing dominant colors to define a focal point or announce a transition area in the landscape. Muted tones assist the eye move calmly between the bolder components, giving a calming visual pause.

This container is a study in complements, using a cinnamon-color coleus and peach dahlia occupying the warm end of the spectrum along with the turquoise glazed pot and trailing foliage supplying the cooler notes on the scale.

S / Wiley Interior Photography

Find Your Color Design

We can find volumes about color through observation and experience. When you visit a public garden, look at local nurseries or have a tour here on , detect which colours please your eyes.

It’s clear the Tiffany blue makes the owner of this cabin very happy. That is the power of color.

The Stories Colors Inform

Potted Plants Perk Up the Streets of Coastal France

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