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Past Articles Library | Adding Pizzazz to a Monochromatic Landscape

A monochromatic landscape, on the surface, may seem like a bland approach to a landscape plan or design, it can be quite beautiful.  It can also be one of the most challenging designs to pull off but there are a few guidelines one can follow to add that pizzazz to a monochromatic landscape.

Color Manipulation

Color manipulation is one way of adding interest to a monochromatic landscape.  How this works is picking a color such as yellow.  When white is added to the yellow, it is called a pastel or it has been tinted.  Searching for a flower that is a tinted color of yellow is one way of hi-lighting a focal point.  This type of color manipulation can more commonly be found in designs created by women or designs created for women, like a flowerbed intended for cut flowers

Another way of staying with a monochromatic color scheme while adding interest is by adding a color that has been darkened through the addition of the color black.  This approach is called shading is a great approach to use when you want to add depth to a landscape design.  In our yellow example, the color would turn into a gold color.  This technique is more commonly found in masculine types of landscape design.  For maximum impact, use this manipulation sparingly.

The last way color can be changed but left monochromatic is through tone.  Tone occurs when a color is “gray downed” with black and white.  Colors that have been toned are typical are more pleasing to the eye and in doing so can be used very often in the landscape.


Texture is another way of adding excitement to a monochromatic landscape.  This includes leaf, flower, stem and bark texture.  Knowing the lifecycle of each plant and when it flowers or showcases its wares will help one maximize this approach.  Timing is everything and seasonal change can create unknown surprises by exposing a view of a showy bark like that on a river birch or uniquely shaped spent flowers such as the swirl found on a spent clematis bloom.

A monochromatic landscape also give the homeowner a chance to showoff other textures beyond plant material.  This includes decorative mulches, stepping stones, unique fence designs and jewel-laid sidewalks.


Shape is another technique that owners of a monochromatic landscape can use to drive additional interest.  Growth habits of several different plants can add that special touch.  To take advantage of this, consider layering plant material in the same monochromatic family.  This includes ground covers, trailers, and those that provide unique shapes when flower stalks bolt to the sky and then continue to add to the design with they dry.  Sedum is a perfect example of this concept.  While the plant and flower stalk is green, in the fall the flower stalk dries producing a decorative tanned stick topped with dried flowers.

Garden Art

A monochromatic landscape is the perfect pallet for showcasing garden art.  Using this one color scheme does not create competition between design elements but instead allows each one to show off their positive accents.

An example of how this works is when one considers setting up a birdbath.  Sticking with one color allows the texture, color and shape of the birdbath to stand out.  It also creates an environment where the wildlife’s color pops out instead of competing with other colors in the landscape design.

Utilizing at least of one of these techniques will help you create a monochromatic landscape that is not dull but instead full of surprises around every corner.


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