Designing a Garden with Warm and Cool Colors

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It always seems easier to have daydreams of the ideal home and garden space that you want than it is to piece it together into a vision that you can build. It’s easy to say, “I want that,” but much more difficult to leap into the territory of “I can have that.” When it comes to our gardens, the idea of creating a design doesn’t have to be intimidating or something that you leave entirely up to the professionals. Dreaming up your perfect design that has both the curbside “wow” factor you want and the sophisticated style you crave isn’t very hard; and it starts somewhere that most of us are likely pretty familiar with – color.



Color in Design

Ask anyone with a design or art background, and you’ll get an overwhelming response about how important color is in creating something that stands out. It is one of the backbones of design if you know how to make it work for you. Getting to know the colors in your garden is the essential first step to open up a world of possibility for your backyard.

yellow and orange daisies

Color Temperature

Every new shade has a different personality that you can manipulate and play with, but a broad sense of temperature will give you a foundation to experiment from.

  • Warm colors are bright and fiery. They have an almost glowing intensity that makes them pop forward, commanding your attention.
  • Cool colors add depth and brooding serenity. They almost seem to recede into the distance and lure your attention inwards.

Savvy gardeners will use their knowledge of these colors and the effect that they have on your eye and mood to create a garden look that is dynamic, helping your garden and home look their best while adding intrigue and dimension where there wasn’t any before.


Warm Colors

The stars of this group are the shades of reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows that appear to glow and catch the sun. Their cheerful intensity not only elicits feelings of playfulness, enthusiasm, and passion, but it also create an optical illusion, making the space you put them in seem closer. Their positive glow can create this trick on the eye alone, but it is even more intensified when paired off with cooler tones.

bluebells flower

Cool Colors

On the opposing side of the color palette, cool colors – like blues, silvers, purples, and many greens – help to calm the senses with a soothing sense of depth. Their moody and refreshing intensity can draw you in so much you might feel like you’re falling in – creating an incredible deepness in your garden in what might have previously been flat. The complexity these tones offer make them perfect for using as the foundation in a design to emphasize the other colors you’d like to feature.


Designing With Warm and Cool Colors

While your design is always ultimately up to you, there are a few tried and true techniques that can help you along the way to creating your most perfect and polished masterpiece.

yellow prairie wildflowers

Complementary colors, also known as contrasting colors, are complete opposites on the color wheel. Given their stark differences, they make perfect pairs as they perfectly highlight each other – making this an excellent tool for highlighting your star plants. To really make your piece pop, pair together these opposites: purple and yellow, blue and orange, or green and red.

Using different shades of the same color can create a beautifully cohesive piece of many layering elements that look stunning together. Try a melody of blue hues together or a myriad of yellows and orange for this marvellously monochromatic look. Remember, though, that whichever color temperature is more heavily featured in your design will have their visual effect amplified.

Pastels are lovely, light colors with muted hues that don’t quite fit into the temperature scale. Despite their lack of temperature, though, they work beautifully against more saturated colors and work best when placed in the front, so they don’t get lost.


blooming flower garden

While it’s always lovely to have design tips to guide your technique, it’s important to remember always to select the plants that you love most. It can be wonderfully rewarding to see a masterfully crafted finished work; however, it never looks better than when the creator loves what they are working with.


Creating a garden design may seem like a challenge best left to the professionals, but by simply mastering the art of color, you can create a seamless work of art to be proud of. Use your gardenscape not just to feature your prized plants, but to showcase them in a creative and captivating way that is handcrafted by you.


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