First, decide on the scope of your project. Do you want more color in the garden, a water feature, drip irrigation, walls, pathways, a deck, or more? You’ll need to clarify what improvements you want in order to choose a landscaper most suited to your project.
Go big or go home. Small patches of color can work in a seating area where you’re right on top of the plantings; otherwise, paint with a big brush. Large swaths of color have the most impact for the long and middle views. Make a splash with large blossoms, such as peonies, hydrangeas, sunflowers, or multiflowered sprays that read as large blossoms like delphinium, snapdragons, and goldenrod. Plant in multiples: five tulips add color, but 30 make a statement.
Dress for success. Just as you consider your skin tone, eyes, and hair color when you buy clothes, consider your house color and hardscaping when choosing color schemes. One gardener loves purples and blues but found they didn’t work well when she lived on a property with a red barn. “I veered into a lot of the warmer colors,” she says. “I needed really deep, bright colors to show up against the barn.”
Sun or shade. Colors perform differently in sun and shade. Deep, vibrant shades that catch fire in full sun look dark and dull in shade; conversely, pale hues that light up a shady corner can appear washed out in the sun.
Don’t forget the greens. Foliage is to flowers as black velvet is to diamonds—it enhances the sparkle and color. But foliage can also be a design element of its own. Think solid, speckled, striped, variegated, fat, skinny, smooth, bumpy, green, black, yellow, red, and purple.
The hard stuff. Pops of garden color aren’t restricted to flowers. Add extra interest with ceramic urns, painted benches, weathered metal sculptures, or whatever catches your fancy. One gardener plays up the fiesta atmosphere on her deck with Chinese lanterns, paper stars, strings of lights, garlands of fans, and artifacts from her travels.
Keep it simple. Wandering through a nursery’s vast variety of species can be overwhelming. It’s easy to come home with either nothing or with a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t go together. It’s wise to control the variety of plants in your garden. A good rule of thumb is three of one variety of plant. Less really is more!
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