8 rules for using plants with colored leaves in garden design

garden design

Colors affect people. For example, the contemplation of red increases blood pressure and heart rate, while yellow balances the emotions and relaxes the body.

Therefore, shrubs with multicolored leaves should be used competently in landscape design.

In addition, the right combination of plant shades will make the garden more graceful, visually increase the space and create a palette pleasing to the human eye.

  1. Think of all the hues.

Plants should be used in combination, so every shade is important. Do not forget that the eyes first perceive exactly the color, and only then the form. Therefore, even well-proportioned elements will seem opaque because of the ill-conceived palette.

Do not plant bright plants next to each other without a clear pattern. Using a large number of varieties of shrubs with different shades of leaves is not a good idea. Such garish compositions should be especially avoided in hedges.

Mottled leaves look better in the background, and shrubs with monochrome leaves or with a contrasting border on them can be planted in the foreground.

  1. The main color is green.

Plants with colored leaves are used only as accents, and the main color should remain green. If your garden is gray-brown and crimson, it will cause a sense of rejection.

Plants with burgundy and mottled leaves are used only as accents

In addition, the distance between monochrome green plants is less noticeable. Therefore, such a group of shrubs looks less relieved than one built on the alternation of different shades, which enhance the play of shadows.

  1. Take into account the lighting.

During the day, red tones act as a “traffic light” that lights up constantly, but at dusk they “go out” first. If you spend most of your time in the garden in the evening (such as having family gatherings around a campfire), choose more shrubs with silvery or whitish mottled leaves.

Yellow-leafed varieties are also good. After all, yellow is noticeable both at dusk and in bright sunshine. It also illuminates the shady corners of the garden.

In a small flower garden, you can, for example, plant a few dwarf Thunberg barberries of the variety Special Gold

  1. Soften up the contrasts.

We have already said that a lot of contrasting colors in the garden is kitsch. But if you still do not want to give up the color palette, then use shades of the same or similar tones. Contrasts and transitions should be unobtrusive.

Lettuce, emerald-beige, golden-green, greenish-yellow specimens look well against the background of dark green plants.

Light shades will give your garden lightness and freshness, dark – will weigh it down a little, and with the combination of both, you will achieve balance.

  1. Read the descriptions carefully

Choose your varieties responsibly. Often varieties differ not only in color, but also in brightness, saturation, and depth of leaf color. At first glance, these characteristics may seem unimportant, but when creating a composition of plants, these nuances are very noticeable.

Pay attention not only to the color of the leaves, but also to their shape and size. In nature, plants with large leaves live mainly in regions with a mild and rather humid climate, and small and stiff leaves are characteristic of shrubs common in arid regions.

By choosing plants which are not typical of your area, you can add a touch of the exotic to your garden.

  1. Play with a change of tones.

Contrasting plantings are striking and flamboyant, but quickly tire the eye. Too bright transitions can be smoothed by using colors that are opposite only in one or two features (such as lightness and saturation). Thus, not a bad combination of purple and lettuce leaves, purple and silver, golden and dark green.

It is not necessary to plant next to shrubs exclusively. The compositions will perfectly complement the flowers. In the spring, bushes with rich leaves look good next to bulbs, and in the summer, when the coloring of the leaves of shrubs burns out and fades, spectacular roses, lilies, delphiniums will be excellent neighbors.

  1. Visually enlarge the space.

Dark plants planted around the perimeter of the garden emphasize its borders and visually narrow the space. To visually expand the garden, plant shrubs with light-colored leaves: yellow, silver, blue.

Objects that are far away from the observer appear lighter and blurred. This effect can also be used to increase the space. So, if you plant shrubs with bluish and whitish leaves in the farthest corner of the flower bed, the distance between them and other plantings will seem larger.

Plants with bright yellow leaves visually bring the planting closer to the observer, and various shades of gray, by contrast, create the impression of greater distance. Green and purple are relatively neutral, so these colors are suitable for any planting.

  1. Get the background and lead plants right

If you plant shrubs with golden yellow leaves in the same line, they will seem to stand out in front. And a group of purple-leafed plants will seem to “fall” into the depths. The composition will be more advantageous and three-dimensional, if the foreground planting shrubs with bright gold or yellow leaves and “dilute” them with single copies of purple, placed in staggered order.

But large dark maroon plants should not be put forward in the foreground. In this place they look unnatural and make a depressing impression.

Also note: Any shades on a dark background seem darker, and on a light one – richer and slightly lighter. If you want to get an unusual effect, try to plant golden plants on a silver background. Then on the border of the transition of one color into the other a gentle lilac shade will form.

We hope that following these rules will help you organize the decorative garden of your dreams!

About the Author: Amanda Johnson

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