Soft purples and yellows complement silvery-blue foliage.

How to Mix Different Color Shrubs

by Jasey Kelly

While choosing landscape shrubs, color may be at the forefront of your decisions, but there's a little bit more to it than simply choosing colors you like. Color schemes in the landscape can create vividly different feels; bold, warming, fun, cool and calming are all examples. Colors can evoke emotions, define spatial perception, create balance or provide you with a focal point in your flower bed. Once you've decided which color scheme or schemes you prefer, your beds will fall into place.

Determine the lighting of your proposed flower beds. Lighting greatly affects different colors and can make or break your bed design. In general, cool colors are accentuated by shade; bright, warm colors do better in sunnier locations. This isn't to say you can't add a splash of vivid color in a shadier bed, but cooler, muted colors will work better. For example, cool, blue-green foliage is complemented by shade more than a shrub with bright-green foliage.

Play with different seasonal effects, as well. Keep evergreens around to add winter interest and add shrubs that bloom in different seasons.

Choose cool colors in small landscapes, as they seem farther away to the eye and can make the space larger; choose warm colors for large landscapes, as they bring the flower beds closer to the eye and make the space more intimate.

Choose a color scheme -- or schemes -- to go with. Analogous color schemes use a few colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as combinations of red, orange-red and orange. Complementing colors are opposite on the color wheel and include yellow and purple, red and green, and blue and orange. Think not only of the flower color, but also the foliage. For example, dark green foliage is complemented by reds; blue foliage is complemented by yellows.


  • Sketch out your flower beds before planting your shrubs, to help you visualize your bed. Make more than a few sketches to give you more ideas. Play with different combinations of the shrubs you've chosen.
  • Complement your shrubs with perennials, annuals and grasses that go with your color scheme.

About the Author

With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.

Photo Credits

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