This is where you really need to remember to be consistent in your garden design planning. A smaller number of well selected varieties of plant will make a far greater visual impact than a collection of many different plant varieties.

By being consistent now you will achieve unity.

Look at plant forms and imagine, or research, how a group of plants, will look at maturity when placed together. When you are placing plant groups try to relate them to your land-form.  For instance columnar tress will contrast with a rolling landscape while the form of the same rolling landscape can be reflected and echoed by including a group that creates gentle dome shapes.

A greater visual appeal is always achieved by using just a few of your favourite plants rather than putting many, many varieties into the available space.

Never, unless of course you are placing a well selected specimen, plant single items. Always plant in groups, having worked out your forms and colour schemes beforehand.

When creating groups do resist the temptation to include too many varieties. Twelve varieties planted in little groups of 3s and 5s all over the place will have a far less positive, unified visual impact than say 5 varieties planted in groups of 5s or sevens.

Planting in groups also gives a sense of intentional design, balance, and unity.  If your garden is small and there is room for only one group, then let there be only one group which can be succeeded in the growing season by a group of another kind. For instance, use a group of daffodils followed by a group of well chosen herbaceous perennials.

It is better to have only one group that makes a real impact than to stuff your garden full of so many different types of plant that you get a jumbled mess leading to the so-called tossed salad effect. (The tossed salad effect is a bad thing!)

Again to use a musical analogy, colour is the tune in your Garden Design. Good use of colour will create a pleasing and memorable image in the same way the use of the musical scale will produce a pleasing tune.



Think of the colour wheel as your scale. The following list will give some pointers in terms of how best to use colour, and you can also revisit the pages on colour and colour in the garden before you go ahead from here.

  • Adjacent colours tend not to produce a contrast and will blend well with each other.
  • Colours that are opposite each other or at ninety degrees from each other will produce a dramatic contrast when placed together.
  • Using a triangle to select your colours from the wheel will ensure that you select colours that harmonise with each other.

You can also, and indeed should, use neutral colours wherever possible. You can use the neutral colours as an integral part of your scheme or you can use them as a backdrop.

Neutral colours such as silver, grey, white and black are usually thought of as complimentary and can be used together:

  • Silver/grey with various reds
  • Silver/grey with various yellows and creams
  • Silver/grey with various violets and purples.

Always experiment, you can do this using colour cards in much the same way as when you select colour schemes for your house. You can also visit your friendly garden centre regularly and experiment with placing different colour plants near each other. When you find a combination that works for you, buy it, plant it up and enjoy it.

Silver/grey plants are usually chosen for their foliage and include Stachys lanata (Lambs ear plant), Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion), Cineraria maritima (Silver dust).

White is usually best employed by using white flowering shrubs or herbaceous planting. Often the best way to use black is by including items of sculpture, garden furniture or enclosures such as fences and gates.

This basic colour theory has been explained in more on our colour page, but do experiment until you find what works for you.

Send us your photographs when your scheme is finished, if you’d like to share them, & I’ll put on the website here for everybody to enjoy.