A Gardener’s Guide to Color Combinations
Spring is in the air, and for many of us that means a long-anticipated return to gardening and yard upkeep. In addition to planning your spring cleanup, now is also a great time to start planning your spring and summer garden. After all, planting a flower garden in your backyard is a fun, affordable way to add a pop of color to your landscape and enhance overall curb appeal.
When you decorate the interior of your home, you likely stick to a color scheme to keep things looking cohesive. The same applies to your garden—while there are seemingly endless colors and plants to choose from, it’s important to narrow down your selection so you don’t end up with an overwhelming, mismatched mess.
While you don’t need to be a landscaping expert to appreciate the beauty of a carefully designed, well-maintained garden, there are a few key tips and tricks to keep in mind when it comes to choosing your color combinations.
Step 1: Establish Your Garden’s Energy.
This may sound like an intimidating first step, but don’t skip over it! By “energy,” we’re simply referring to the overall feel that you want from your garden. Start by thinking of a few words that describe your ideal garden. Is it calm, relaxing, and zen? Or do you prefer more vibrance and excitement? This will help you narrow down your color temperatures.
If you gravitate more towards a calm energy, you’ll probably want to focus on cool colors—blues, purples, and greens. If you want a more vibrant, energizing garden, we recommend warmer colors—reds, oranges, and yellows.
Remember to think of your landscape as one cohesive design, choosing colors that complement your home and hardscape for a cohesive feel. Consider the existing colors in your landscape, as well as the layout and sun exposure. If your garden area has lots of shade, consider using light, pastel-like shades to make it look brighter; for sunny garden areas, bright colors tend to be best as those pastels could end up looking faded.
Step 2: Decide on a Dominant Color.
Once you’ve figured out the overall feeling that you’re going for, it’s time to narrow down the color choices.
Start with one or two dominant colors, and go from there. Choose your favorite color, a color that complements your existing landscape, or the color of the plants you already have… all that matters is that you’re happy with the selection.
Next, research native plants in your color of choice, making sure you like the options.
It’s worth mentioning that you should be strategic about your hardscape colors, too. Try to choose neutral, natural colors for your retaining walls, fences, trellis, and more—avoid green hardscaping as it could end up clashing with your softscape.
Step 3: Choose a Color Scheme.
Now that you’ve picked your primary plant colors, it’s time to choose your color scheme. While there’s nothing wrong with simply picking a handful of favorite colors, it helps to be strategic if you want your garden to grow to its full potential.
First, let’s talk about the basic color wheel, which consists of 12 colors divided into three categories:
1. Primary colors: red, blue, and green.
2. Secondary colors: purple, orange, and green—made from mixing two primary colors.
3. Tertiary colors: magenta, teal, amber, and more—made from mixing a primary color with its neighboring secondary color (red/purple or blue/green, for example)
Knowledge of the color wheel is sure to come in handy when choosing the right color combinations for your garden. There are several color schemes to choose from, including:
Monochromatic Color Combinations
The simplest of the color schemes, a monochromatic garden consists of one color in varying shades and textures: pastel lavender to rich indigo, or pale pink to deep rose, for example.
Analogous Color Combinations
Analogous color schemes consist of colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel (typically a primary, a secondary, and a tertiary color). Examples of analogous color combinations include blue, purple, and magenta, or red, orange, and yellow.
Complementary Color Combinations
Complementary colors refer to two colors directly across from each other on the color wheel: yellow and purple, orange and blue, or red and green, for example. Because these colors are “opposites,” they do a great job of making the other “pop.”
Complex Color Combinations
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to picking colors in your garden. In other words, don’t be afraid to make it your own!