Apparently, Spring is here! And it’s time to think about your outside space, however large or small it may be. Choosing plants is an important step but there are so many other things to consider. When it comes down to it, designing an outdoor space can be more difficult than an indoor space. You have to consider its hardiness for seasonal weather changes and seasonal changes of the garden plants. It’s permanently on display as an expression of yourself, the first thing you’ll see coming home – it’s not that extra cluttered room of yours where you can close the door. Make it a place that feels good.

Now, you don’t have to tear up the whole front lawn and start from scratch (unless of course you’re up for a total re-design!) Simple changes can change the whole space, here are some places you can start!

Colour Theory in the Garden

This was taken from the Gardening Manual for Canada:

‘Volumes have been written on color theory and its application in gardens, but color purists often overlook personal taste and the subjectivity of color perception. Some people adore hot, bright, and even clashing colors, while others find the cool restraint of pastels more appealing. The theory of harmonies an complementary contrasts has been used by artists for centuries and it does work in practice but, if rules don’t give the effects you desire, don’t feel bound by them- experiment freely instead.’

Let that sink in. You can specially plan your garden space around a theme, or just go wild and pick what makes you feel good! Colours are subjective. Use as much or as little as you want.

When it comes to gardens, green is the neutral colour! You can use foliage to break up masses of colour. You could even restrict your space to foliage for a serene retreat, completely limiting colour. If you want a space with high energy, use bright contrasting colours like grape hyacinths (deep blue) with orange tulips. If you want a calming space, stick to flowers of blues and purples (next to green on the colour wheel.) White-themed gardens have the fantastic ability to change with the time of day- white blossoms absolutely glow in evening light! But the ultimate colour addition to a garden is red.

Bring Out the Red!

When green is the new neutral, red becomes the ultimate pop of colour! You don’t need too much of it to create a huge impact. Think of those bright red tulips bursting forth in Spring, or a single red poppy in a field of green. Red can make things feel closer together- something to consider if you have a smaller space. Red makes a fantastic focal point when used in décor items- furniture cushions, lanterns, sculptures, et cetera.

Make Changes According to How YOU Use the Space

If you plant annuals but don’t have time to replant each year, or buy new deck furniture but never use it, or put in new sod but don’t have time to cut the grass, you’re creating more work for yourself. The first thing you should do is think about your lifestyle. Plant a low-maintenance perennial garden with just a few bright annuals if you have a busy lifestyle. Spend deck furniture money on a focal point for the garden you can see when inside the house maybe a cool sculpture that brings interest to the space year round, or a flowering crabapple tree. If you hate cutting the grass, why have a lawn? Use gravel and stone to create zen-like patterns with a few pockets of plants. Before you buy anything or start digging, think about you!

Create a Sensory Experience

Outdoor spaces have a constantly changing atmosphere, with wind, temperature, scents and noise going through cycles every day. Use this to your advantage. Plant scented plants along sidewalks and by seating for natural aromatherapy. String solar lights along pathways for a cheerful glow at night. A wind chime offers pleasant sounds and provides good vibrations. If your space suffers from a lot of urban noise try creating layers of foliage to absorb sound- vertical plantings along a fence, or dense plantings of varying heights can help. You could also bring in a fountain, which not only masks noise with soothing ripples but cools the space, creating a refreshing retreat from a busy day.

Bring Your Indoor Style Out

If you’re not sure how to accessorize outside, try bringing elements from your interior into the space. This will help the two areas meet in harmony. Use decking materials and path stones that match the hue of flooring inside the door to flow together. Match fabric colours of interior and exterior furniture. Paint your garden fence in a colour that complements the colour scheme used inside. Use patio furniture that matches the style of your home- if you have sleek sofas and stainless steel accents inside the house, does wicker furniture on the patio feel right? Or- one of my favourite tricks- pick your favourite thing in the house- a piece of art, a rug, a travel photograph- and take it with you to inspire the plants, décor, and landscaping features for your space.

Next Month

We’ll be continuing with the outdoors, with ideas on creating an impactful, welcoming entryway and making bigger, physical changes to your outdoor space. Have you ever heard of a ‘She Shed?’ Read more about it in May!