Landscape Color Schemes: Ideas for Plant Combinations

Red geraniums, white alyssum and blue ageratum for a patriotic border for July 4.
Red geraniums, white alyssum and blue ageratum for a patriotic border for July 4. David Beaulieu
  • 01 of 14

    Landscape Color Schemes: Ideas to Use for Your Own Yard

    This window box is planted with warm colors.
    Window Box With Warm Colors This window box is planted with warm colors. David Beaulieu

    How to Use Color to Make Your Landscape Design "Pop"

    Color, along with form, line, texture and scale, is one of the basic elements of landscape design. In the pictures below, you will find examples of how to put color theory into practice in your landscaping. An effective landscape color scheme can compensate for many a landscape design flaw. Treat the following information as source of ideas for combining colors effectively in your own landscaping.

    Red, orange, and yellow are considered...MORE "warm" colors.

    The effect of reds, oranges and yellows on our senses is to excite. If you need a little "pick-me-up" in the morning to ready yourself for the day ahead, maybe a window box such as the one in the picture above is just what you need to see when you gaze outside your bedroom window. The yellow is provided by mums, the red and orange by ornamental peppers.

    Continue to 2 of 14 below.
  • 02 of 14

    Example of a Cool Color: a Dark Iris

    Purple is an example of a cool color.
    Picture of a Purple Iris Purple is an example of a cool color. David Beaulieu

    While red, yellow and orange are warm colors (see prior photo), blue and purple are "cool" colors.

    As such, they are perfectly suited for meditation gardens, for instance. After gazing into the rich color of this purple iris for a while, who would not begin to relax a bit? Flowers this dark are also sometimes classified as "black flowers." Consult this detailed resource on iris flowers to learn more about this type of plant.

    Continue to 3 of 14 below.
  • 03 of 14

    Red Canna Flowers Are Natural Attention-Grabbers

    Use red to draw attention to a landscape area.
    Drawing the Eye to a Spot Using Color Use red to draw attention to a landscape area you wish to draw the eye to. David Beaulieu

    Flowers with warm colors, such as red flowers, can be used to draw the eye to a particular spot in the yard that you wish to call attention to.

    Red cannas, for instance, will draw the eye to a house-number marker or a driveway entrance.

    Continue to 4 of 14 below.
  • 04 of 14

    Disguising an Eyesore

    The bright colors of the plants take the focus.
    Disguising Ugly Walls The bright colors of the plants here catch the viewer's attention, shifting the focus away from a rather unattractive wall. David Beaulieu

    The cement-block wall of this house is not especially attractive.

    But the homeowners have done such a good job of front-planting it with colorful plants that you are hardly aware of the wall. All of your attention is focused on the warm colors of the flowers.

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    Landscape Color Picks Up Color on House

    Photo showing plants picking up house colors.
    Using Plants to Pick Up House Colors Photo showing plants picking up house colors. David Beaulieu

    Unlike in the prior photo, in the photo here, the function of the plant colors is not to draw attention away from a house feature.

    On the contrary, the flower colors of two of the prominent plants in this landscape pick up the color of the shutters.

    Continue to 6 of 14 below.
  • 06 of 14

    Color Scheme in a Rock Garden

    Example of rock garden plant selection.
    Rock Garden Plant Selection, By Color I geared plant selection in this rock garden to the color of the rocks. David Beaulieu

    The rocks in this rock garden bear a reddish color. Accordingly, the builder selected rock garden plant material that he felt would work well with red.

    Continue to 7 of 14 below.
  • 07 of 14

    Green and Red Shrubs

    Photo of burning bush hedge.
    Example of a Red-Green Color Contrast Example of contrast: red and green. David Beaulieu

    Red and green lie across from each other on the color wheel. Color theory tells us that juxtaposing such colors provides contrast. But you do not have to rely on color theory for this conclusion. Just look at the example above. The fall-foliage red of the burning bush hedge stands out nicely from the green of the creeping juniper ground cover in the foreground.

    Continue to 8 of 14 below.
  • 08 of 14

    Yellow and Purple Flowers

    Yellow and purple flowers juxtaposed make for a nice contrast.
    Example of Yellow-Purple Color Contrast Yellow and purple flowers juxtaposed make for a nice contrast. David Beaulieu

    As in the prior photo, the photo here shows and example where a color-contrast was employed. In this case, it is yellow (with yellow alyssum ground cover) and purple (with grape hyacinth spring bulb plants).

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    Flowers for Window Boxes

    Picture of window box with purple and orange flowers.
    Window Box With Orange and Purple Flowers Picture of window box with purple and orange flowers. David Beaulieu

    Like red-green and yellow-purple, orange-blue is a combination that provides a direct color contrast.

    But in the photo above, the contrast is toned down some. Instead of blue, an annual flower (petunia) with a light purple color was chosen to stand next to the orange flowers (lantana).

    Continue to 10 of 14 below.
  • 10 of 14

    Factor in the Color of Your Mulch

    Red mulch sets off 'Golden Sunshine' spirea nicely.
    Selecting Mulch With an Eye to Color Red mulch sets off 'Golden Sunshine' spirea nicely. David Beaulieu

    When selecting mulch, consider, among other things, how the mulch's color will work with the accompanying plants. For 'Golden Sunshine' Spirea, many would feel that the reddish mulches are a good match (as is black mulch). An option with similar leaf color is 'Gold Mound' spirea.

    Note, though, that some gardeners harbor a strong aversion to red-colored mulch. Instead of factoring mulch into their landscape color schemes, they prefer a natural-looking mulch color that will...MORE recede into the background.

    Continue to 11 of 14 below.
  • 11 of 14

    Mixing Mulches

    Photo showing the use of contrasting mulch colors.
    Mixing Mulch Colors Photo showing the use of contrasting mulch colors. David Beaulieu

    Mulches of different colors can be used to play off each other. With the red bark mulch and the gray stone mulch used in conjunction, this area is more attractive than it would be if covered with just one or the other mulch.

    Continue to 12 of 14 below.
  • 12 of 14

    Gold Plants, Blue Hardscape

    Picture of a golden creeping Jenny, spilling over a blue ceramic container.
    Hardscape Color Picture of a golden creeping Jenny, spilling over a blue ceramic container. David Beaulieu

    You are not limited to plants and mulch when implementing a landscape color scheme.

    In this area of the yard, the homeowner was aiming for a gold-blue landscape color scheme. The ceramic planter shown in the photo helped with the blue component. The gold plant installed in the planter is creeping jenny.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Decorative Mailboxes

    Picture of mailbox with harvest scene.
    Mailbox With a Colorful Harvest Scene Picture of mailbox with harvest scene. David Beaulieu

    A mailbox tends to stick out like a sore thumb. So if your mailbox is going to usurp the role of focal point, you might as well treat it as one. With its colorful harvest scene, this mailbox is an attractive element at the head of the driveway.

    Continue to 14 of 14 below.
  • 14 of 14

    Focal Points, Other Landscaping Visual Cues: Line

    Picture of row of red tulips.
    The Use of Line to Grab Attention Picture of row of red tulips. David Beaulieu

    We move on now to the landscape design concept known as "line."

    Think of straight lines as "no-nonsense" elements in your landscaping. Compared to curved lines, straight lines direct eye movement more quickly and more forcefully to a point in the landscape to which you wish to draw attention. Curved lines are more relaxed and relaxing, and they are especially appropriate where a more naturalistic feel is desired (nature abhors a straight line).

    In addition to "getting to the...MORE point" and being more forceful, straight lines can also accentuate the length of an area. This could be a useful trick to know -- for retail businesses, for instance. An example is provided by the photo above. To the viewer's eye, the straight line of the tulip bulb plant border between the road and this business stretches off quite impressively into the distance, suggesting a large, thriving establishment to passersby. The fact that the tulips are red (a "warm" color) makes this border even more effective as an attention grabber.