Landscaping Color Schemes

Although landscaping is often thought to be a “green” industry, many color enthusiasts will find an all-green landscape rather monotonous and boring. By adding color schemes to the landscape, you have ample opportunities to show off your creativity.

In many cases, color is often one of the most prominent factors landscape designers should consider when sprucing up their landscape.

You can achieve the following effects by adding color schemes:

  • Enliven the landscape, make it bright and exciting;
  • Attract attention to those areas that you’d like to be noticed such as the front door or pergola or switch the focus from dull surroundings;
  • Different color schemes are very important for the exterior environment, when you want to ensure that colors match with the overal design and enhance the look of the landscape;
  • Highlight the colors of other plants;
  • Create a special mood;
  • Bring a variety throughout the seasons;
  • Attract such animals and insects as birds and butterflies

Artist’s Color Wheel

To produce a good landscaping design, you should know how to combine colors and textures to make the final product pleasing to the eye. When in certain combinations, colors can provide a beautifully harmonious effect. For instance, yellow color is thought to refresh the mind and many landscape designers recommend to plant yellow-colored flowers near windows for better visibility. With monochromatic colors, you can get the shades and tints of one beautifully pure color. A shade is darker than the pure color, a tint is lighter. The landscaping practice shows that many homeowners often choose monochromatic color schemes. To show you an example of such scheme, let’s take a red color. You can get tints and shades of this color with the help of various deep red, pink, or maroon colors.

It takes some practice to develop a good eye for color, but to get a better idea of landscaping color scheme, a good place to start will be by studying a color wheel. The colors on this wheel are arranged in accordance with their relationship to each other like in rainbow colors, starting with violet to red, red to orange, orange to yellow and so on.

Some colors like red or orange are called warm colors. They are thought to make us feel warmer, while other colors like green or blue can produce a “coolness” feeling. When using compatible colors in the landscape, such as pastels, this can create a peaceful mood.

Harmonious or analogous colors use hues of the same color that is placed next to each other on the color wheel. They create a calming sense and make us feel peaceful. With such a variety and abundance of annual and perennial cultivars available throughout the year, color combinations are really easy to achieve.

Contrasting or complementary color schemes use colors that are on opposite sides to each other on the color wheel. Their combinations are very vibrant and bring life, energy and excitement to the landscape. Such colors catch the eye and are usually a good place at your front door or any place you want to draw attention to. However, remember that too many contrasting colors scattered throughout the landscape may cause confusion for the eye. The examples of complementary color combinations can be orange against blue, yellow and violet, red and green, and so on.

Polychromatic colors contain every color from the color wheel and are placed next to each other. The appearance can be random, but brings the sense of play and amusement to the landscape design.

Most color wheels contain 12 colors only, however nature gives us almost an endless number of shades, tints and tones of these 12 main colors. In any case, the artist’s color wheel is a good starting point that will help you train your eye on the choice and combination of the colors you’d like to use in the landscape.

Color Design Principles

When developing color palette of your landscape, it is a good idea to look at all the colors as potentially good choices. Colors should be grouped with an utmost care. For example, a magenta bloom may look harmonious near other plants with purple or pink flowers, however when combined with red, orange, or yellow flowers, magenta will be hideous.

You should remember that many flowers’ bloom may not last long, while bark, foliage, or even seed heads may have a much longer life and add an entirely different texture to your landscape throughout the seasons.

It is important to know that the color palette in your landscape is not limited to plants only. Consider adding such hardscape colors as colored concrete, bricks, rocks and the like. Make sure that your plants contrast or blend with their surroundings depending on what goal you try to achieve. For instance, when you select a plant that will grow near red bricks, yellow and white flowers will be a good idea. However, if you choose red flowers, they will simply fade into the surroundings.

In case you use contrasting color combinations, they will give your landscape a much more distinctive look. To brighten shaded areas, use light-colored flowers with hues of white, pale blue, or light pink colors. If you plant dark-colored plants, they tend to get swallowed up in the shade, unless you surround them with a lighter color to get some contrast.

No matter what color palette you choose while designing the landscape, remember that there is no point in creating a riot of colors. Everything should look pleasant to the eyes.