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Using Color Theory & Combinations to Design Your Pennsylvania Garden

colorful purple garden along fenceline

If you're wanting to try your hand at garden design this year, try using color theory as your guide! While color theory is widely used within many design disciplines, it can also prove to be an indispensable tool for developing stunning color combinations for the garden. Here is our introduction to color theory and the color wheel, along with some tips to help you apply color theory to your garden.

Color Theory Basics

Color theory is a topic that encompasses both science and art, as it provides explanations for how humans perceive color and the emotions they evoke. In garden design, understanding basic color theory will give you a leg up in knowing how to mix, combine, and manipulate colors to create visually pleasing color combinations and layouts.

color wheels and theory

Here are some color theory ideas to help you design your next stunning garden display:

  • Color Harmony: Color harmony refers to pairs of colors that are pleasing and harmonious to the eye when used in combination, including complementary and analogous colors.

  • Color Temperature: Color temperature organizes colors into 'warm' and 'cool' categories. For example, blue and purple are 'cool' colors, while red and orange are 'warm.' Playing with combinations of 'cool' and 'warm' colors is a great way to evoke different emotions in the garden.

  • Color Context: Colors may look different depending on what you pair them next to. For example, a pale yellow won't stand out beside a bright orange, but it will next to a bright purple.

The Color Wheel

Understanding basic color theory means familiarizing yourself with the color wheel, a diagram representing all the colors in the visible spectrum and how they relate to each other. There are different types of color wheels; some contain only primary colors, while others contain a broader spectrum of colors.

rainbow colors of garden flowers

Here are some essential color wheel terms to know:

  • Primary Colors: Traditional color theory states that the primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. These can then be combined to create other colors.

  • Secondary Colors: Secondary colors are the combination of two primary colors. For example, combining yellow and blue (two primary colors) make green, a secondary color.

  • Tertiary Colors: Tertiary colors are formed by combining a primary color with a secondary color. For example, blue combined with green makes teal.

  • Complementary Colors: Colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel are known as complementary colors, such as purple and yellow, blue and orange, and green and red.

  • Analogous Colors: Colors beside each other on the color wheel, such as blue, teal, and violet, are known as analogous colors.

Lehigh Valley Home & Garden - inside the greenhouse

How to Use Color Theory in Your Pennsylvania Garden

Now that you know the basics of color theory, here are some ideas to help you create a gorgeous garden this spring!

Start Small with Containers

If you want to experiment with color combinations, but don't want to commit to an entire garden, containers are a great place to start! You can mix and match your flower selections using color theory until you find the right combination for your garden or landscape.

Use Color Theory to Update Your Current Garden Design

If your current garden design needs some refreshing, try using color theory to add new elements. For example, if you have a lot of blue and white combinations in your garden, try creating an analogous garden by incorporating some violets and light blues, or add contrast with striking orange tiger lilies!

hosta plants and muscari flowers

Create Themed Gardens

Whether you prefer tranquil gardens or a rainbow of color, you can use color theory to help you create the perfect design. For monochromatic gardens, stick to analogous color combinations. For more energetic gardens, on the other hand, try choosing bright, contrasting colors.

Use Color Echo

Once you've selected your garden's color theme, try adding those colors throughout your landscape, whether by planting more flowers or adding colored garden furniture and decorations. Yellow daffodils in one corner with a yellow garden chair in the center of the yard create a cohesive aesthetic that your visitors might not notice but will definitely appreciate!

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To pick up supplies and get started on your garden color combinations plans, come visit us at Lehigh Valley Home & Garden in Allentown, Pennsylvania. We're always more than happy to brainstorm ideas with you!


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