How to Pick the Best Garden Color Schemes

Published: 15/12/2023 | Updated: 15/12/2023

How to Pick the Best Garden Color Schemes - Shrubhub

Color combination is an art. Some might even say it's an art closer to science. Art is free, yet exist laws of aesthetics. Color theory proves that color combinations have different powers and don't just serve the general sense of beauty, but can evoke different feelings and sensations. That doesn't just apply to paintings, but to garden color schemes too.

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When it comes to your house's exteriors and especially your garden, colors are more important than many gardeners give credit to. Choosing plants and flowers for their maintenance and personal interest matters, but a gardener should also give attention to the color combinations of different flowers.

And it should all be done under a clear and understood goal. You'd be surprised what you can achieve by color schemes alone. Beauty is above all. But what is the particular sense of aesthetic you want? The style? And what do you want your garden to feel like? Spacious or intimate and cozy? Something else?

With color theory and color wheel and our help, you'll understand how to combine colors for your garden color schemes to achieve exactly the goal you have for your garden.

There is no limit to garden color schemes, so you can also personalize it as much as you want.

First, let's see what a color wheel is before getting into garden color schemes.

Color Wheel

A color wheel, also called a color circle, is a circular illustrative organization of color hues that shows the relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

The first color wheel was introduced by Isaac Newton. Many later scientists and artists (like the literary figure Goethe) also commented on color theory.

A basic color wheel has 12 divisions. Three primary colors (blue, red, and yellow), their corresponding three secondary colors ( green, orange, and violet or purple), and the six tertiary colors made up a primary color with a secondary one (green-yellow, yellow-orange, orange-red, red-violet/purple, violet/purple-blue and blue-green).

An intentional combination of colors to maximize style and aesthetics is called a color scheme.

Color Scheme

A color scheme uses logic in its color combinations on the color wheel. Those combinations range from a basic, easy combination of two colors that look appealing together, to more complex arrangments of several colors or several shades of the same color.

As it's meant to invoke the highest sense of beauty, there is no one clear rule to follow. But there are general guidances, methods, and proven trials that gave us several named color schemes that anyone can easily use.

Those include:

Complementary Color Schemes

Complementary colors are two colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, yellow and purple are complementary colors, as are red and green. One reason why red roses are so striking is their contrast with green leaves.

This gets us into it. Why go for complementary colors?

There is actually a scientific reason why complementary colors are so appealing together. We have different types of photoreceptor cells which simultaneously perceive different types of light in the color spectrum.

Appealing to those different cells through opposite colors creates a striking effect that attracts our eyes, while still being soothing enough. Other combinations of colors can be striking but in a painful way that makes you want to shut your eyes.

However, a complementary color scheme ensures a powerful effect without causing a headache.

How to Use It For Your Garden Color Scheme?

Since green is found in abundance in gardens, it can nearly be considered a neutral garden color, but that doesn't mean you can't use it to your advantage.

A garden bed made entirely of red flowers, be they red roses or other types of flowers like Begonia, or Poinsettia will be an incredible and powerful contrast to the greenery of your garden.

You can also use complementary colors by having a combination of yellow and purple flowers in your garden beds. Like Daffodils and Salvia or forget me nots.

It doesn't have to be just plant combinations either. You can plant bundles of sunflowers against a purple-painted wall and the color scheme result will be as striking.

Another thing is, you can use the double complementary way. Meaning, you can choose two pairs of complementary colors and use them throughout your garden and garden beds.

Still, this isn't the only color scheme you should follow. There are important others.

Analogous Color Schemes

Opposed to complementary color schemes, an analogous color scheme is made up of colors next to each other on the wheel. Analogous colors can be blue, green, and purple/violet, or red, orange, and yellow.

Analogous colors don't draw too much attention to themselves but their power lies in the sense of harmony and the calming effect they evoke.

By being together, analogous colors create a sense of natural transition, due to their proximity on the color wheel and also due to them being found a lot in nature. Think of a blooming green tree against the large blue sky. A sight that evokes beauty and a relaxing feel.

How to Use for Your Garden Color Scheme?

Mixing blue flowers like Lobelia plants and violet ones like violet lilacs among shrubs with a lot of green leaves is a beautiful way to reach this color scheme.

Monochromatic color schemes

A monochromatic color scheme is another powerful color scheme that revolves around just one color by using a color palette made up of different shades of the same color. Like green, lime green, and celadon.

Similar to analogous colors, monochromatic colors are used together to give a sense of serenity highlighted by cohesivity and unity. They are often used to evoke spaciousness due to those reasons.

How to Use It for Your Garden Color Scheme?

Combining plants for a color scheme based on a monochromatic nature is as amazing for your garden as it is easy.

As it's based around a single color, this single color can be your favorite one! Say your favorite color is orange, your entire palette can be made up of plants and flowers which are all various shades of the color orange.

In this example, you can plant orange trees and adorn your garden with garden flowers of another shade like the darker shades like Lantana or Flame of the Forest.

You can apply that color scheme to most colors depending on your personal taste and the mood you want to evoke. Just avoid too much green or other neutrals for your garden color.


Those previous schemes are nearly entirely focused on the relationship between different colors and their placement on the color wheel. But there are also other groupings of colors and palettes that you should also take into consideration when you're mixing colors for your garden color scheme. Through color temperature.

Those might overlap with the previous categories but are grouped differently as they can have different functions.

Color Temperature

Every color on the color wheel can be categorized into warm colors, cool colors, or less frequently, neutral colors.

When it comes to the 12 main colors on the wheel, they can easily be split into cool and warm. The colors on the right are cool and the ones on the left are warm. But it can be a little more complex than that when you take in undertones and different shades of every color.

They also have different functions that you can take advantage of to achieve what you desire with your garden color scheme.

Cool Colors

Cool colors are the colors with the shorter wavelengths in the palette. As we mentioned they are mainly the colors making up the right half of the color wheel, the main ones are blue, purple/violet, and green.

This family of colors is usually chosen if one wants to create a refreshing, relaxing effect. They are also perfect for evoking spaciousness, especially in smaller places, like a small garden.

How to Use for Your Garden Color Scheme?

Combining blue, purple, and green in a flower garden can be one of the most beautiful garden color schemes. Blue flowers are rarer in nature than many others, and for this reason, they are highly prized and immediately add value to a garden bed.

And likewise, purple has always been the symbol of royalty. So among garden color schemes, combining colors next to each other, especially on this side of the wheel, can be a great choice.

Blue flowers like Delphinium 'Blue Lace' and purple plants like salvia together can be great.

Warm Colors

The left half on the color wheel makes up the warmer colors on the spectrum. The main ones are orange, red, and yellow. Opposite in temperature to the cool ones, they are also opposite in function.

Especially characterized by the family's main color, red, warm colors evoke warmth, passion, energy, heat, and intimacy. A large garden can feel cozier with this group of colors.

How to Use It For Your Garden Color Scheme?

If you have a large yard and want to bring it this sunset feel, you have a wider range of choices than you might imagine. Red, yellow, and orange plants are found in abundance in nature.

Even if you want to go for a kitchen garden rather than a flower garden or a mixture of both, you can easily do that. Use yellow and soft oranges for sweeping beds, while also planting orange and red apple trees. You can have a bed of tomatoes and red bell peppers as well.

If what you want is a cozy and intimate mood, then this is especially perfect for you.

Neutral Colors

Neutral colors can be the easiest or the hardest to work with. They are basically black, brown, white, and grey. Minimalist design has made great use of neutral colors, but they can either be elegant or dull, depending on how you combine them with other colors.

How to Use It For Your Garden Color Scheme?

With neutral colors, you have to be a bit careful list you make all your color schemes overly neutral. Neutrals should be used carefully. They are an amazing choice for your hard landscape colors, like wall paint, and natural elements like bare concrete, etc.

While with flowers, they can add a beautiful touch to break the intensity of other colors. Here white flowers and even creamy flowers can make up one of the softest, most beautiful color schemes.

Near-neutrals like very dark colors that aren't black, like dark violet and dark blue can have a similar effect and can make choosing colors easier.

Garden Color Schemes Tips

Now you have the basic knowledge of combing colors in an effective way and are ready to head to your garden color schemes with more plans.

However, here are some more things to keep in mind before buying your plants based on the new color choices you have to achieve total mastery.


We've mentioned it earlier, but different colors have the power to change the atmosphere and tone of the place.

You might love warmer colors, but if you have a small garden, it's highly likely the choice will work against you. Instead of a cozy and intimate tone, you'll get a suffocating one.

The same can happen if you go for a monochromatic scheme and end up choosing one of the darker colors. A dark shade of a cool color can work as a warm color, like dark blue.

So be careful to keep the size of your garden in mind when you're choosing from the possible garden color schemes. Just because it worked for someone's garden color doesn't mean it'll work for you. Choose colors based on your specific garden before anything else.

Hard Landscaping Colors

That's something that escapes a lot of minds when choosing their garden color schemes. Your garden color scheme isn't just for flowers and plants.

The end result might be far from what you would have liked because you forgot to include your hard landscape colors in your garden ideas and plans.

On the other hand, if you have them in mind, you can them a part of what makes your garden color scheme spectacular. Fences, for example, don't have to be just white. You can color them anything you want.

Whatever it is, even if you choose to not change paint or anything else when it comes to your hard landscape, then make sure you choose a garden color scheme that works with their existing colors.


Like with hard landscaping, decor can work with or against you when it comes to garden color schemes. If you have furniture outside, then take their natural colors into consideration.

Or if you can paint some of their elements. Maybe you're even getting new things for decor!

Whatever it is. Have them in mind for mood, tone, and contrast. Your garden color will thank you for it!


How Can Garden Color Schemes Play into Your Favourite Garden Design?

While other elements also have their place, color is one of the top important elements of garden design. Any professional garden designer would choose plants and flowers of a suitable match to your style.

You can also do it yourself even if you're not a garden designer by understanding the dominant garden color schemes of different designs


Medittereanian Gardens

There are many ways to achieve the Medittereanian Gardens look. One of them is through garden color schemes.

One of them is choosing dominantly cools, especially for landscaping and decor, like azure blue. Blue is slightly the main color here. But the true look is achieved with a dash of warm-colored plants.

The elegant mix gives the airy, relaxing feel of the oceanic blue mixed with the fiery and intimate nature of the gardens.

Contemporary Gardens

Garden color schemes for contemporary gardens are characterized by being dominantly neutral and low-key. A contemporary garden doesn't want an explosive splash of colors. Exactly the opposite.

This is one of the few garden designs where neutrals have a place to be dominant. Darker tones of colors work well too. The soft landscape itself should be left at a neat, controlled green.

Dark blue and dark red can be used minimally. The one other color that can work well, but also incredibly minimally, is purple. A contemporary garden best works with a very limited choice of color too.

So in the garden, stick to the one or two color choices that contrast best against the neutral-colored landscape without bringing too much attention to itself, be it red or blue.


The power of colors and different color combinations has been studied for centuries, with the introduction of the color wheel and dividing colors based on tone as well as other factors. You can easily use those studies to your advantage with your landscape. This article is a perfect guide to how to do this.

For customized, professional landscape help and plans that include garden color schemes, you can always reach out to us at shrubhub.com





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