Color works in your garden in the same ways it does inside your home. Your personal preference may run to neutrals, or you may like brighter or bold colors as accents or your primary visuals. But you would never consider an entire room upholstered and papered in a multi-colored print. The effect would be eye-crossing, not pleasing at all.
With a jumble of color, your eye has nowhere to land, rest, and admire. That’s why landscape designers suggest planting for blocks of color rather than a random potpourri effect. You can still have your favorites – most of them, anyway – but with advance planning each of them will have maximum impact.
Blocks don’t have to be square
In fact, nothing in nature is perfectly square or rectangular. The idea is to offer enough of one color (or a range of related shades) to provide that all-important visual resting place. By using different colors in different blocks, you can create an overall mood. You can also differentiate rooms within your garden, with entirely different moods, if you like. Use quiet pastels around the bench in your hideaway for reading or contemplation, bright colors that shout “fun!” near your pool.
What’s the perfect “carpeting” for your garden rooms? Artificial grass, of course. It’s luxuriant and verdant in every season, and it feels so soft and welcoming underfoot as you wander your garden to admire your plants up close. Of course, faux grass makes the best lawn for play, too.
Think in terms of swaths of color – undulating waves, for example, that create visual movement. Or softly angled color groupings that seem to flow into one another. Choose different colors for different heights – tall bright snapdragons behind lower orange and yellow zinnias. A single flowering crabapple becomes a “block” of color that makes a statement in the middle of your lawn.
Blocks don’t have to be a solid color. For example, you could intermingle blue delphiniums and balloon flowers with white phlox.
What colors should you choose?
The “garden police” have retired, so that decision is entirely yours. Go with colors that make you happy. Or help you relax. Just be sure to choose hues that coordinate or contrast pleasingly with the exterior of your home, to give your overall landscape the greatest appeal.
If you’re a neutrals person, you’ll be happy to know that green is considered as neutral. Plenty of options there! White, gray, or variegated leaves of different sizes, shapes, and textures easily come together to create a gorgeous space. Include some white-flowering roses and perennials, and perhaps a pale blue or pink clematis for just a tinge of color.
Color itself is trendy in gardens, just as it is in interior home decorating and exterior paint colors. What’s hot and growing even warmer right now? Gold. Gardening industry experts say the trend toward shades of yellow will be with us for the next decade.
As you’re planning your garden, keep in mind that darker colors will not stand out in the shade. On the other hand, whites and pastels and lighter-colored leaves can transform a dark space into something magical. Pale colors stand out at dusk and at night, too.
Consider the seasons
It won’t do to have stunning blocks of color in spring and summer that leave you aesthetically stranded in cooler months. So plan your palette to offer new color or textural surprises in fall and winter. Fall blooms, the reds and golds of turning leaves, colorful berries on shrubs, and bare twigs and bark that provide interesting visuals in the midst winter. Even evergreens come in an array of shades.
All are the building blocks of a lovely, year-round garden.