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Past Articles Library | Add Harmony to Any Landscape through a Complementary Color Scheme

Creating a harmonious landscape can be a challenge.  There are so many beautiful color choices that one can become overwhelmed.  To help guide the beginning landscaper, one should refer to the color wheel.  This simple wheel can help the gardener stay on the color task and create a landscape worthy of any designer magazine.

While a monochromatic landscape is easy, the next easiest is the complementary color scheme.  This type of color arrangement utilizes the concept that opposites attract.  Just pick a color on the color wheel and then draw a straight line from that color to the color opposite of it.  These two colors are then considered complementary. 

To see how this works, lets take a look at the color yellow.  If you draw the line straight across, you will come to the color violet.  In doing so, yellow and violet become complementary but what does this mean for the landscape.

First, the brightest color of the two will need to be placed around the front door.  This will draw the eye to where you would like visitors to enter the home. 

Second, this color scheme can simply be used to convert a monochromatic landscape with little effort.  This can be done by adding complementary accessories such as garden art or colored pots to the landscape.  If using this approach, make sure that the second color is complementary to the monochromatic landscape.

Third, make sure that the color scheme you choose goes with the structures it will surround.  While complementary colors may go together, they may not mesh with building materials or trim.  An example of this would be a red brick home with forest green trim and a complementary landscape scheme of yellow and violet.

Fourth, to keep the color scheme continuous throughout the season make sure to have an assortment of plants that flower during different times of the season.  An example of how a yellow and violet color scheme could shine through the whole season would be to create the following planting schedule.  In the spring, plant pansies, crocuses and tulips along with forsythia.  Once the weather warms, plant yellow roses, violet irises, and petunias.  In the fall, plant bright yellow mums, flowering purple cabbage or kale.

While this technique is easy and can be a challenge to stay true to this color scheme.  Many gardeners fall into the trap of planting a plant whose flower color is around their color scheme.  In our example, that would mean around the yellow or violet family.  To keep this color scheme true, only utilize plants that are the pure color.  In our example, that would mean pure yellow or violet not yellow red or purple blue.

A complementary color scheme for a landscape is easy on the eye, easy on the wallet, and easy to do.  To get the biggest impact for your money, make sure to arrange your colors in masses verses alternating colors in a row or just sporadically sprinkling complementary colors in the landscape.


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Growing Caladium

Caladiums grow from tubers sold in the spring.

You can buy the tubers and plant your own, but buying a full-grown plant is the easiest way to know what color the leaves will be.

Give your Caladiums high humidity or the leaf margins may turn brown.

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