It is much, much easier to decide which plants to use in your garden design scheme if you have an awareness of which colours work best with each other. 

It is beyond the scope of this site to specify the plants that you should be using in various combinations.  Indeed if I were to do that for you I would seriously impede your ability to learn for yourself how to choose your ideal planting and colour combinations.

In Landscape and Garden Design, as in orther creative arts and crafts, you have endless options when you come to use colour combinations, primary and secondary colours, hues and tones.  You have unlimited choice of colours, which is not nearly as scary as it sounds because I will make it easy for you to get started using the colour wheel. This will get you into the ball park and help you to make firm decisions about any ideas you that have for the use of colour.  The key here is to make full use of the colour wheel and to understand it as a tool.  However you must also experiment with your colour combinations, literally placing one colour next to the other to see what works. If it works use it, regardless of theory

As you work through the following definitions, you’ll gain a sound understanding of why certain colours work well together with others and why some should possibly be avoided.


Monochromatic Garden Colour Scheme


Monochromatic schemes use variations of a single colour. A good example of this is a paint swatch card that has several different values of one colour. This type of scheme is very simple and pleasing. A monochromatic garden is rarely fully fully achieved apart perhaps from gardens that use only white.

You may choose to have sections of a design in monochrome in order to soften or link existing hard features into the garden, try using reds, purples and pinks against a brick wall or house.

Analogous Garden Colour Scheme


Analogous colours are those that exist side by side on the colour wheel such as violet and blue, and green and yellow. Using colours in this way will give you an excellent match but because of the lack of contrast will not provide you with a vibrant effect. Moving around the colour wheel is an excellent way to achieve a transitional effect from one space to another in your garden. They can be used to help create gardens that appear natural in the surrounding landscape as analogous combinations often occur naturally in the wider landscape.

In garden planting this type of scheme often uses three adjacent colours to achieve a good visual effect. Choose one colour as the dominate display, another adjacent to it as your secondary colour, and your next adjacent colour can then be used as detail to accent your design. Think of it as a piece of music where you have a theme, a melody and decoration/accents.

Analogous colour schemes can be used to integrate or link existing hard landscape features into the garden. For example try using Pyracantha with orange red berries against a red-brick wall.

Complementary Garden Colour Scheme


Complementary colours are those that exist straight across the colour wheel from each other.  Some of the colours that you will see most often used together are:  

Yellows with purples.

Red with green.

Blue with orange.

They very simply complement each other.  These colours used together set up a pleasing visual experience.  That is all you need to create a basic, sucessful, colour scheme.

Using complementary colours can be an effective way of drawing attention to something that you want people to see. If you put a red focal point in a sea of dark blue fowers for instance, your eye will be immediately drawn to the red object.

Choosing colours that are at ninety degrees from each other on the wheel will also provide you with matches that are complimentary, while also setting up a slightly more complex design scheme.


Triadic Garden Colour Schemes


Using Colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel will result in a successful Triadic Scheme.  These tend to be vibrant even if small amounts of colour are used.  Equally if you employ tints or shade, you will most likely end up with a lively visual impact.  In the photograph the door provides the third colour, lending the scheme some added structure and interest.


Variation of Colour Schemes

It is possible and usually desirable to have your colour schemes vary as the seasons change. This means selecting plants that have different bloom cycles in order to retain colour in the garden all year round, (or for as long as possible). Select evergreen and semi-evergreen plants in equally spaced settings for added winter colour and unity.

Consideration should be given to plant height. Obviously when creating striking colour displays you want to keep small plants in front and larger plants in the back of the scheme. Plant height as well as colour can be used to create natural focal points.

An example of creating year round variation is to plant Cornus alba Sibirica in front of a black fence rail with spring and summer flowers to the front of the planting bed. The leaves of the Cornus will provide a backdrop for the spring and summer flowers, while the red winter bark creates interest against the black railing.

Your Next step is to learn about  Garden Themes and Style