Plant the Rainbow: Using Color in Garden Design

Lush greens are just the beginning when it comes to choosing plants for your outdoor area.
From: DK Books - Garden SXS
Fiery Hot Colors in Garden Demand Attention

Fiery Hot Colors in Garden Demand Attention

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

The color provided by flowers and foliage is particularly valuable in a garden. It can be used in a number of different ways, perhaps to evoke a particular mood or to give areas of the garden a theme or look.

Rich Colors

If you spend a fair amount of time enjoying your garden from indoors, it makes sense to provide displays of rich color that are easily visible from the house, perhaps in pots and containers on the patio, or in beds and borders close to the windows. Harmonious colors that blend well together create a strong but restful feel; use softer, pastel hues farther away from the house because they show up better at a distance than saturated colors.

Monochrome Planting

A garden or border composed of mostly white-flowering plants creates a cool, calming feel that is most striking at dusk, when the blooms glow in the fading light. Try using cream and pale yellow flowers, as well as very pale pink and blue ones, to prevent the effect from becoming stark and clinical. Silver-leaved and variegated plants will provide interest once the flowers have faded.

Hot Hues

Fiery colors, such as reds, oranges, and intense pinks, demand attention, but they should be used with care: they attract the eye away from softer shades and, if planted at the far end of the garden, may make the yard feel smaller. Often the simplest way to deal with hot-hued plants is to group them together and create a condensed and spectacular injection of color. Alternatively, combine them with contrasting shades, such as rich blue or purple, to mitigate the effect.

Serene Green

It is important to remember that green is also a color, and is the most commonplace in virtually every garden. There are many different shades of green but, generally, it has a restful effect, and gardens that are planted for foliage tend to be serene spaces. Set against other colors, though, green generally fades into the background, so use plants with variegated foliage or white or pastel-colored flowers to shine out and provide additional interest.

Next Up

Garden Plants and Flowers

Learn how to discover which plants underscore and help define a specific garden design style.

Planting Japanese Maple Trees

Compact, colorful trees in pots make a lovely addition to a yard or patio.

Selecting Plants for a Tropical Garden

The key to planning a tropical kitchen garden is making sure everything is edible and that the vegetables, fruits and herbs also provide color and fragrance.

Veggie BFFs: Companion Planting for a Healthier Garden

HGTV blogger Meagan Francis offers tips for vegetables and flowers that make for great garden companions.

How to Plant Young Crops

Correct potting is essential for crop growth. Follow these steps to create the most prosperous environment for young plants.

When to Plant Pumpkins

Get the scoop on when to plant pumpkins in your garden. The right timing depends on where you live and what kind of pumpkins you’re growing.

Vegetables You Can Plant for a Fall Harvest

Savvy gardeners know a thriving fall garden starts in summer. Start planting these cool-weather favorites now.

Planting a Shrub

Use these step-by-step instructions to easily plant an evergreen shrub.