Do you enjoy colorful landscaping but aren’t sure how to make it happen?
A top request from my landscape design clients was “lots of color.” Especially in the front yard. Here are five simple ideas that can make a big impact:
- Paint your front door a beautiful color.
- Select bright container plants.
- Feature colorful garden furniture.
- Invest in a standout specimen tree.
- Consult the color wheel.
Paint Your Front Door
A door is a large vertical element in your landscape. By painting it a beautiful color, you can make a bold visual statement.
A big benefit of painting your front door in a “look at me” hue is that it clearly signals to guests where to enter your home. The right color is cheerful and welcoming. It makes a big psychological difference.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in London for semesters at a time due to my husband’s job as a professor. And I’ve always been struck by the beautiful bright doors I see there. Often the front “landscaping” consists only of a vividly painted door with a potted shrub on either side. It’s simple, elegant, and fun all at the same time.
One tip I’ve learned over the years is to choose specific door paint brands and colors which have been tried and tested by designers. Check out what Martha Stewart has to say about the best front door colors, for example.
If your door is already painted a nice color, don’t forget to “spring clean it” by washing down the door, surrounding trim, and overhead areas. This will remove layers of dust and grime that accumulates from planting beds, roads, lawn mowing, etc. Clean your front windows, hardware, and your front light fixture while you’re at it. It’s hard to believe, but this makes a huge difference in brightening up your front yard space.
Select Bright Container Plants
Pots of bright flowers or foliage plants are probably the fastest and easiest way to add color to your front yard landscape.
Many people believe they need trees and shrubs and flower beds to be the key providers of color. And these are wonderful elements of any front yard for sure, as long as you are willing to do (or hire out) the required maintenance involved.
However, you can add significant pops of color to your front entry areas with container plants, especially if you keep the rest of your front landscape fairly simple in the background to make the potted plants a focal point.
To use another travel example, I was so impressed by the fabulous front yard landscapes I saw in Northern Spain walking along the Camino de Santiago a few years ago. Large terra cotta pots filled with single-color annuals or hydrangea shrubs were on doorsteps and windowsills everywhere, and it never got old!
Ever since that trip, I’ve placed a giant container of red ivy geraniums on my own small front stoop. I receive many compliments from passers-by all season long. For something so basic! It’s a great example of not overthinking things.
Feature Colorful Garden Furniture
If you have a spot for a garden bench in your front yard, by all means paint it a lovely color to pop in the landscape. Or consider spray-painting a small table and chairs you might find at a yard sale or, like me, on the side of the road.
No room for garden furniture? Consider featuring a brightly hued watering can on your front porch, or almost any painted object can serve as a stand-out sculptural element in your front yard.
Invest in a Standout Specimen Tree
Just like your front door, a tree acts as a vertical element in the landscape and packs a lot of punch.
Trees with more than one season of color are workhorses in your outdoor spaces. The Japanese maple is a small tree often used as a “specimen” planting, which is a featured plant or shrub used as a focal point. Specimen trees are usually planted on their own in a way to make them the center of attention. They can add a major “wow” factor of shape, color, or texture.
Trees do require care and maintenance, especially when newly planted, but in general they’re considered low-maintenance landscaping plants. Trees also create habitat for wildlife.
My landscape design professor believed it was possible to create a truly stunning landscape with only trees and groundcover. I love this idea, especially if it includes planting masses of spring-blooming bulbs under the trees.
Consult the Color Wheel
In studying for my landscape design degree, I learned all about using the color wheel to design plantings, and it was life-changing! Using the principals of color theory, you can’t get it wrong when choosing plants and flowers.
It works like this. Choose an analogous color scheme for a simple and elegant look. Analogous colors appear next to each other on the color wheel. So red, orange, and yellow are analogous. So are blue, purple and red. This is a fun way to design plantings because the color limitations make it easier to make choices. But it also inspires creative combinations you might not have considered otherwise.
For a more striking color display, choose complimentary colors on the color wheel. These are colors which are opposite from one another on the color wheel, like purple and yellow, or blue and orange. These colors provide the maximum contrast, with each color popping against the other.
You can use this method for flowering plants or even for shrubs. Just don’t plant contrasting shrubs or plants in an “every-other” pattern, which is jarring to the eye. Plant contrasting groups instead. For example, plant three of one kind of evergreen shrub together, then two of one kind of flowing shrubs next to them. This is the way plants grow in nature, in small groups or drifts.
Upload a photo of your front yard to a simple online garden planning app that lets you play around with different plant and color combinations. One of my favorites is Garden Puzzle, which is very inexpensive and a lot of fun to use.
This post appeared previously on The Simple Landscape blog.
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