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How to pick color in the Garden?

April 24, 2013

color wheel image

What’s YOUR favorite color?  Mine is red hands down.  The problem with that is I have a light blue house and pinks and light yellows look just fantastic next to it.  Red looks good too, but not nearly as great.


Basically, it breaks down to 2 choices:

  1. Harmonious (colors that are next to one another and share some value) or
  2. Contrasting (colors that don’t)

The Primary colors on the color wheel are: Red, Yellow, and Blue.  Blending these three colors, like you did in Kindergarten, will give you the rest of the color wheel.  They are considered Secondary or Tertiary colors.

  1. Secondary: Orange, Green, and Violet.
  2. Tertiary: Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, and Blue-Violet.


For Beginners a good approach would be to choose just one color (Monochromatic) and choose plants in any shade of that color, but remember “less is more”, especially while you are  learning.  While it may sound boring to focus on just one color, know that the picture of a garden of one color will be a very sophisticated vision where texture and pattern will really stand out.

You could also choose Analogous colors, or ones that are adjacent on the color wheel such as red, orange, and yellow.  That leads to a nice transition for the eye.


Complementary colors, or those that are opposite each other on the color wheel such as red and green, are nice choices that provide great visual impact.  You should use one as a focus color and the other as a contrast in lesser quantity.  Again texture and form can be used for visual appeal that adds some dimension to your garden creation.  My favorite thing to do is to use a triad of colors such as light pink, light yellow, and light blue.  Or another great combo is simply the primary colors red, yellow, and blue.  I use those in my home.

The final approach is definitely not a beginner’s garden.  It’s Polychromatic, or using many colors all at once.  It can quickly become overwhelming so be sure to start simply and add one or two plants periodically and live with it for a while to be sure you like it.

Enjoy looking at a few color gardens.  You can see from them that depending on the color selection you emit a different feeling depending on the colors in your yard.

I’d LOVE to see pictures of your garden!  I’ll even add your photos to my slideshow here if you comment and send me them.


The UNgardener

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From → 1 Plan

  1. I prefer blues, purples and yellows for my more “manicured” beds, but tend to plant ALL the colors! I also plant one bed as a “fire garden,” every year: Reds, oranges and yellows. It’s VIVID! I’m really more of a wildflower type gardener…throw the seed and see what comes up. 🙂

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