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When planning your landscape, sight is the first of the five senses to be used, therefore color should be strongly considered, as its use can have different impacts on your landscape.  Whether color is used to direct attention to a certain area, to set a mood or to make your space appear a different size than it truly is, color is a useful tool to create the kind of space you want for your landscape.

Perhaps you are more familiar with using color inside your home than in your garden.  The same concepts with color can be applied outdoors, but more so with the use of plants through the color of their blooms and foliage, than with the use of paint.  Take advantage of the following ways that color can be used in your landscape to create your ideal outdoor sanctuary.

Create or enhance focal points.  Color is a great way to create a focal point in your garden.  The use of a bright color, or a contrasting color that is not being used in the rest of your landscape, is a great way to draw the eye and attract attention, thereby creating a focal point.  Placing perennials with bright red blooms in an otherwise muted garden, or a shrub with purple foliage in a mainly green landscape, will definitely demand notice.

These tricks can also be used to enhance an already existing focal point. For instance, use a plant with contrasting color to help draw the eye to a piece of garden art or to a tree with interesting branching 

Conversely, don’t use these colors in areas where you would like to avoid attention.  Think twice before placing those bright yellow perennials next to that less than attractive composter. 

Create a mood.  Determine what kind of a mood you would like to create for your landscape or for certain areas within your garden.  The mood can then be set with the use of certain colors.  Warm colors, such as yellow and red, can be used to create an atmosphere that is energetic and exciting, but be careful not to overdo it as these colors can quickly become overpowering.  A good rule of thumb is to limit the use of hot colors to ten to fifteen percent of your overall landscape for best design results.

If you would rather create a more passive and relaxed space, consider using cooler colors such as blues, purples, and light pinks.  Unlike the warmer colors, these colors are not overwhelming and can be used in greater numbers without worry.

Change the perception of size and distance.  Use color to change how the size of your landscape is perceived.  Cooler colors, like blue, tend to recede visually, so they can make a space seem larger than it actually is.  This can be especially useful for a small garden that you would like to make appear bigger.

Warmer colors, such as red provide the opposite effect.  These colors tend to advance visually and seem closer than they actually are.  The use of these colors can be used to make a large yard seem more intimate.

Combine warm and cool colors within garden beds to help fool the eye as well.  To make a garden bed seem deeper than it really is, place plants that have warm colors at the front of the bed and plants with cooler colors along the back.  This is helpful when you have a long narrow garden bed that you would like to make seem deeper in order to appear more proportional.  Do the reverse to a short, deep garden bed in order to make the bed seem narrower.

Color is a great instrument that can be used to create the kind of space that you would like to spend time in.  By understanding how color can work for you in the landscape, you are better prepared to achieve the kind of results that you would like to see in your garden. Consider the effects that color can have on your landscape the next time you purchase a plant, so that you can enjoy your garden to the fullest.


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