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Vivid red commands attention. You can’t ignore this assertive red pool — it punches up a natural landscape setting and dramatically defines the space. The surrounding retaining wall is a milder shade.
The use of red in small doses gives the garden a dynamic attitude. If pure red is a bit too intense for your taste, try a tint (lighter) or shade (darker). Extend your use of red from soft pinks to deep burgundy reds. These terra-cotta-red Adirondack chairs are eye catching but don't compete with the natural landscape.
Golden foliage can instantly brighten a space and make a small garden appear larger. Variations of yellow range from warm amber hues to intense sunflower. This design also demonstrates a monochromatic approach to color. In your own garden, monochromatic might mean blooms, berries or bark in one key color of the rainbow, such as an all-pink or all-golden border. Monochromatic color includes all tones of one color, from dark to light.
Related: Focus Your Garden Palette
The simple addition of two marigold-yellow accent pillows makes a contemporary green and gravel garden glow.
Although it's calming and peaceful, blue was once considered an unattainable garden color since it's rarely found in nature (consider the pursuit of the rare blue Himalayan poppy or the rose industry’s obsession with breeding a blue hybrid tea).
The compelling presence of blue can appear in your garden with help from a can of periwinkle paint, a turquoise-tile pool or aqua cushions.
Blue cools us down. If you don’t have a swimming pool to bring the serene presence of blue into the landscape, paint the inside of a birdbath, display a grouping of glazed blue pottery, or lay a path with blue tiles.
Once you’ve given certain flower and foliage colors a starring role in the landscape, use them to guide your decisions for nonplant materials as well. Edit and enhance the palette with painted structures, furniture and artful objects. Two sky-blue rocking chairs make this front porch just as important to the garden’s color story as its blooms.
Basic Rules of the Color Wheel
Art lessons begin with the basic rules of the color wheel. Red, blue and yellow are primary colors, while secondary colors are made of combinations of two primaries: orange (red plus yellow); green (blue plus yellow) and purple (red plus blue). Tertiary colors combine one primary color with one secondary color.
Adding white to a color creates a tint; adding black to a color creates a shade.
The primary palette of the vivid blue pool shown has another primary accent in the yellow-chartreuse Japanese maple tree, uplit for emphasis.
Enliven a quiet spot with complementary colors opposite each other on the color wheel. In color theory, opposites are energy-packed visual experiences. Red is opposite green; blue is opposite orange; yellow is opposite purple. In the landscape, red and green are opposites, but the use of turquoise rather than true green bends the rules while still making a vivid statement. The horticultural equivalent might be a plant with lime foliage paired with a maroon or wine-color plant.