March 23, 2023

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Color Theory in Landscape Design | Home Guides

Color Theory in Landscape Design | Home Guides

When creating an attractive landscape for residential properties, designers must consider several factors, such as scale, line, form, texture and color. These principles work together to create an aesthetically pleasing visual balance of trees, shrubs, flower beds and hardscape materials such as concrete, stone and wood. Color theory plays an important part in final design, with light, value and position helping to create an interesting overall portrait of the property’s individual elements.

Using Color in Landscape Design

The color wheel that is used in other art techniques is also used in landscape design. The color wheel is an organization of colors around a circle that shows the relationships between colors, such as primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors and analogous colors. The wheel is used artistically to create a variety of effects to enhance the look of a design, whether it be in painting, photography or any other piece of visual art.

Analogous Color

Analogous colors are those that are close to each other in their position on the color wheel. For instance, related shades of green plants, such as yellow-green, bright green, dark green and bluish-green can be planted close together to create gradations of color for the eye to savor.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are those at the opposite side of the color wheel from each other. These colors produce a bigger visual impact and command attention. Bright yellow pansies contrasted with purple violets or clematis, for instance, would be an example of using complementary colors from the color wheel in your landscape design. Red rose bushes against a dark-green evergreen hedge is another example of creating visual drama with complementary colors.

Color Values

The value of a color is the amount of lightness or darkness it possesses. The color value makes a flower or plant stand out from the background or recede into the background, depending on its hue. Placement of trees, shrubs and plants, as well as hardscape materials, according to their color value helps to make the design more three-dimensional, with light and dark areas that move the eye over the individual elements and from area to area of the property.

Color Intensity

Color intensity is yet another way you can use color in landscapes. Intensity provides the brightness or dullness in regard to the color of landscaping materials. If every item were of the same intensity, the human eye would have difficulty picking out the individual elements. Varying the intensity of landscape plants and hardscapes allow the eye to flow easily over the overall design, picking out individual plants or demarcations and moving on to other parts of the property.

Light and Shadow

Another way that landscape designers use color in their designs is to consider the way that light plays on various parts of the property at different times of day. Shrubs that may seem uniformly dark when in a shadow can reveal highlights of color when the light shines on them directly. This ability to show different kinds of color in changing light creates landscapes with an ever-changing palette of color and contour throughout the day.

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