How to Use Color Theory to Plan Your Garden wallacegardencenter

How to Use Color Theory to Plan Your Garden

It might be tempting to plant flowers all over your garden for that wild and whimsical look, and we totally understand the inclination to do so. However, if you're hoping to create a more cohesive landscape design, properly planning your colors can take your garden design to another level! Because we know that not all gardeners are trained in design, art, and color theory, we're here to help you explore the color wheel and create the best color combinations in your garden.

The Color Wheel

Before we talk about dahlias, daffodils, and daisies, we need to talk about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. The foundation of many of the world's most beautiful gardens relies on understanding color theory and how color relates to design. The 12 basic hues on the color wheel will help you see color relationships in new ways and steer your garden design in directions you never thought possible!

color wheels

How Does a Color Wheel Work?

A color wheel allows you to see which colors work together and can help you pair garden features that complement or contrast with one another. Contrasting colors sit directly opposite each other on the color wheel. These combinations are known as complementary colors and make for more interesting visual effects. Colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, meanwhile, are known as analogous colors. These combinations are more harmonious and tend to work better in threes. Generally, one of the three colors will be dominant, with the other two serving more as background hues.

How to Use Color in Garden Design

Once you start seeing the connections between colors in basic color theory, you can begin tossing your know-how around your garden landscape. Depending on your chosen color combinations, you can create different moods and atmospheres throughout your garden or designate certain areas of your landscape to specific color palettes.

cottage garden


It can be hard to limit yourself in the garden with so many amazing flower colors out there! The best way to showcase your favorite blooms is to give them a special place to shine in your garden design. If you're blessed with a larger space, try planting multiple different flower gardens that won't be competing with each other. A cottage garden, for instance, is a beautiful way to highlight softer hues like pinks, yellows, and whites with flowers and fruit trees reminiscent of the English countryside. Meanwhile, you can separate your bolder and more vibrant colors (like deep purples and brilliant oranges) into their own space where they won't dwarf or clash with your subtler shades.

Remember to use neutral colors to balance and subdue your flower colors and maintain harmony throughout your landscape. Green is a particularly excellent grounding color in color theory, and you may find it helpful to your overall color scheme to use patches of foliage and grasses to break up your color combinations.

Landscape Features
A harmonious garden design is not just about flower selection; it also includes finishes like furniture, pots, art, accessories, fences, and other structures. When planning your garden design using color theory, make sure you're considering all of your garden's elements when using your color wheel to find the best combinations.

blue and orange flowers

Color Schemes

Here are some of our favorite color theory combinations that we think you should try out right now:

Complementary colors

  • Blue and orange
  • Yellow and purple
  • Red and green

Analogous colors

  • Yellow, orange, and red
  • Blue, purple, and red

It might take some experimenting to find the colors that work for you and your space. No matter how much you practice color theory in your landscape design, the best gardens are always the ones that combine the colors you love most! Never compromise a well-loved hue because it doesn't fit. Instead, find creative ways to showcase what you love and celebrate its beauty.

hydrangeas in garden

We consider ourselves pretty savvy when it comes to picking the best flowers for a space, and we would love to help you on your color journey in the garden. If you're looking for some advice on color theory garden design in the Bettendorf area, we've got you covered. Come check us out at Wallace's Garden Center today!

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