It’s not hard to create a good-looking landscape. Just follow the same rules that garden designers do. Here are a few old standbys.
1) Plan for the future. A garden shouldn’t be a one-trick pony. Planting spring-blooming bulbs in the fall is one way to think ahead. But what happens after the tulips in the photo above have faded? That’s when companion plants take over -- in this case, a backdrop of ferns. Dig in some annuals and you’re in business for the summer.
2) Be bold. If you want to be noticed, you’ve got to strut your stuff. That applies in the garden as well. One way to make a statement is with lots of color. Monotone displays are especially vivid. Note how the bright yellow pansies pop against the white planter box and lattice. It’s clean, fresh, and bold.
3) Repeat the color. Add an interesting twist to a monotone planting by echoing the color in a companion plant. In this case the variegated beautyberry (Callicarpa) repeats the greenish white hydrangea blooms, making the pairing seem more fitting. Although colors match, the diversity of plants helps add interest, especially in a larger setting such as this.
4) Go for contrast. On the flip side of monotone is contrast. One foolproof way to introduce contrast is with dark-leafed plants such as these coralbells (Heuchera). Because coralbells are primarily foliage plants, the effect lasts for months. (The tiny flowers are a bonus.) Plant in clusters or waves, rather than scattered willy nilly, which tends to look fussy and artificial.
5) Mimic nature ... or neighbors. Want to delve deeper into contrasts without studying an artist’s color wheel? Take a cue from nature. Note the pleasing color contrasts of the goldenrod and purple asters -- a common sight in meadows. Also look around your neighborhood for other color combinations you like. Then, when you go to your local Lowe’s, look for plants with those same colors.
6) Mix and match. Container gardens continue to be popular. But how do you display more than one at a time? Simple. Mix the sizes and match the colors of the pots. By grouping various-sized containers, you create a vignette -- a family of sorts; coordinating the colors connects this family. You can match the containers (in this case terra-cotta) or work within a shared color palette (such as the earth-tone containers in Tip 7).
7) Embrace foliage. We can’t help it if we’re always attracted to flowers. But for long-lasting appeal that almost always requires less maintenance, don’t forget foliage plants such as crotons and coleus. There’s no deadheading required. And also no worries flowers will fade before your next outdoor gathering.
8) Connect the pots. To integrate containers into a garden bed, use large pots that won’t get lost. Then fill the containers with a bold arrangement that pops from a distance. By repeating plants, such as the orange mums here, you visually connect the containers and keep them from competing with each other for attention.
9) Call for backup. Bedding plants are usually massed together for visual punch. Magnify the effect by adding a backdrop of ornamental grasses to keep the eye from wandering. Green is a neutral color that complements the flowers. And the additional height keeps the bed from looking flat.