When someone asks you to describe a color, do you find yourself looking to the natural landscape for inspiration? If you use phrases like sage green, ocean blue or sunflower yellow, you’re not alone! Everything from daffodils to sunsets create vivid imagery that many of us can relate to.
Color trends come and go – electric orange may be all the rage this year and dusky blues the next – but the principles of good color design remain the same. Color sets the scene, creates harmony between indoors and out, and affects how you feel about your outdoor space. You’re probably familiar with the basics of primary and secondary colors, warm and cool colors, even complementary and compound colors, but there are subtleties to using color that may surprise you!
Here are three of the ways that color makes a difference in your landscape and why.
Color Affects Your Mood
Just as a painter chooses a palette to conjure a mood or evoke an emotion, a landscape designer chooses color to create the atmosphere for your outdoor space. For example, reds, yellows and oranges are considered warm colors and can be used to create excitement and energy.
If you want your space to be an environment meant for entertaining, warm colors are the perfect backdrop for pool parties, family barbecues and backyard fun with the kids.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a space to relax and unwind, cool colors are more likely to fit the bill. Blues, purples and greens are ideal for meditation gardens, hidden retreats and spaces where you can sit and daydream quietly.
But it’s not just specific colors that affect the mood and emotion of a space – it’s also the use of colors together.
Even warm colors can create relaxing spaces depending on how they’re combined. Monochromatic color schemes – those where shades of a single color are used – create a harmonious effect by giving the illusion of one continuous space and allowing the eye to rest rather than jump from color to color.
A similar effect can be achieved with analogous colors – those that are next to each other on the color wheel. For example, reds and oranges can be combined for a visually soothing landscape of color that blends seamlessly from a distance but provides a rich mix of hues close up.
Complementary colors – those that are opposite each other on the color wheel, like blue and orange – bring out the intensity in each other. Think of the cool blues of a backyard pool contrasting with the rich oranges of plants and even accessories. Other popular complementary color combinations include pinks and lime greens, and purples and yellows.
Color has tremendous power to affect your mood and emotion and requires an artist’s touch to set the atmosphere for your space. While there isn’t necessarily a “wrong” color combination, some colors can be jarring together. White, for example, tends to be harsh against bright colors and dulling with paler colors. But when combined with certain shades of green, blue or purple, you can achieve an almost magical effect.
On the other hand, too many colors can be discordant, so if you’re tempted by every shade under the rainbow, it’s worth considering the effect you want to achieve first.
Finally, color can be used to effectively harmonize the indoors and out. You can carry a color from your interior to the exterior, whether through the use of foliage and flowers, woods, tiles or décor.
Color Can Make A Small Space Appear Larger Or Smaller
The color combination you choose can affect your perception of space, making it appear either larger or smaller. Warm colors appear to advance, bringing the space in closer around you, while cool colors have the opposite effect, appearing to recede, and to feel more open.
Paler colors reflect light, creating the illusion of space, where darker colors absorb light and seem to shrink a space.
If you have a small space, color can be a tremendous ally. Monochromatic colors, for example, are effective at making small spaces appear larger. Neutrals and whites bring light, bright colors to your landscape, and also become a canvas where natural sunlight can join in the effect of expanding your space.
Using color combinations to create depth will also enhance the illusion of space. Using flowers in warm colors in the foreground, with cooler colors behind, successfully creates the illusion of depth.
On the other hand, color can make a large space feel more intimate. Since warm colors seem to come forward and feel closer, they can effectively scale the space down, making it cozier. In a large yard, this is a great way to frame a seating area or create places to host private conversations.
Color Contributes To A Four-Season Landscape
Not all plants bloom during the same season, and foliage can also change hue from one to the next, from pale greens in spring to deep hues in summer and even richer reds and golds in fall.
While flowers tend to bloom in spring, fall is better known for its vibrant berries. And where lush greens provide the backdrop for warmer seasons, the subtler tones of bark offer visual interest during cool months. Some ornamental grasses shift from springtime green to fall gold, and pale buds later become vibrant petals and soft stems as the seasons change.
Where you might enjoy the yellow of daffodils in spring, black-eyed susans will take their place during summer and pansies in fall.
The different qualities of plants, shrubs, trees and flowers can be used in combination to create subtle shifts in color from season to season, creating a changing beauty that you can appreciate all year long.
Different colors can create different seasonal moods, from playful and energetic during the summer to peaceful and meditative during winter.
Given how important a role color plays in your space, you can see why you need more than just a landscaper – you need a landscape artist!
If you’d like to explore how color can set the tone in your space, get in touch for a consultation. We’re passionate about designing the perfect space for you, and that includes finding the hues and shades that suit your lifestyle and home.