We all want color in our landscape, preferably year-round color from flowering shrubs, and colorful foliage.  Planning our landscape, and trying to decide which plants to use isn’t always easy or straightforward. Maybe we see a plant in a neighbor’s yard we like, or while browsing our favorite nursery (aka Autumn Hill) a plant may jump out at us. In our minds we are collecting plants, and deciding where they can be used. The plants we choose might all work in their allotted spaces, but will they all work together color-wise? Will they work with your house?


Here are a few scenarios to help illustrate some of the factors  we need to keep in mind.

  1. Make sure the plants going up against your house contrast well with the color of your house. Gold or chartreuse foliage against a yellow house is not going to show well. On the other hand, the dark green foliage of distyliums would provide quite a contrast and complement one another. Let’s say out from there we want to plant the weeping maroon leaf maple we fell in love with as a focal point. So far this works great, just don’t plant maroon leaf loropetalums next to it as then the two compete, and your focal point suddenly isn’t so focal. Before we move on from the japans maple, let’s look up at the house. Does the maroon foliage look good with house and trim colors? Looks good in your mind? Great, now we’ll move on to the kaleidoscope abelias you like. These will look good in front or to the side of the maroon japanese maple right? You bet, nice contrast and works well with the green backdrop of the distyliums. Next our spouse who really like the lemon ball sedums want to plant them in front of the abelias. Whoa Nellie, you two are going to have to decide between one or the other because next to each other is just too much yellow. Trade the yellow sedum for ice plant or thrift, and you are back in business color-wise.
  2. Now let’s move to that shady tree line in the back yard. We already have some beautiful orange-blooming native azaleas, and a handful of native white dogwoods scattered in the natural area. Some encore azaleas would be nice to give some color spring and fall. The coral encores jump out at us, so we buy a few and take them home and plant them in front of the native azaleas. Looking up from our work we notice our spouse on the deck with their head cocked. We turn back around only to see our coral azaleas blooming in front of the orange azaleas. Not the best combination of color. Now if the two azaleas are blooming at different times form one another then you have no worries. Our spring blooming weigela is never going to bloom at the same time as our crape myrtle so we don’t have to give this plant combination a second thought. But the hydrangeas we are planting will overlap with the crape myrtle. Are the colors going to work with each other? While we are resting on our shoveling wondering of the nursery will take back the coral azaleas after you planted them (the answer is no by the way) we notice the white dogwoods and realize the white will work with any color. Hmm, that a good thing to know.


Are you getting the picture? Our plants are seldom stand-alone items in our yard, and we have to take time to consider the surrounding colors. Striving for a balance of color that is stimulating while  not so chaotic that it simply doesn’t work can be a fine line, and seldom happens by accident.  A little forethought can make all the difference.

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