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Garden design principals, tips and tricks for creating your dream garden or landscape that blooms in all four seasons. Design a dream garden that’s as unique and creative as you are!

What To Plant With Purple Flowers

What To Plant With Purple Flowers

I absolutely love purple flowers in the garden! There are so many long-blooming perennial options that purple is a go-to flower color for many home gardeners… including myself!

In spring, purple crocus, alliums, geranium, salvia and catmint will bring the garden to life. For purple blooms all summer long, use clematis, balloon flower, lavender, blazing star and reblooming hydrangeas. End the season with bursts of purple asters, blue Vervain and globe thistle in the fall.

But sometimes it’s difficult to decide what flowers will compliment a purple color scheme. If you want to make your garden stand out from the rest here are some of my top tips for what to plant with purple flowers!

  • Plant a variety of purple flowers of different hues, such as light pastel, medium and dark purple together.
  • Compliment purple flowers with similar colors like pink-purple (magenta) or a blue-purple (violet) flowers.
  • Combine purple purple with an opposite color, like yellow or yellow-orange.
  • Add similar colors like pink-purple (magenta) and blue-purple (violet) to your purple garden, then take it up a notch with pops of opposite colors like yellow or yellow orange (amber).
  • Try a peaceful combination with purple flowers combined with white flowers and foliage.

Keep reading to see some beautiful photos and plant varieties you can try to get a create the purple flower garden of your dreams!

Plant more purple flowers

The first option you have is to plant even MORE purple flowers! For any of you purple-lovers out there, this is a great option. And… you don’t have to get all matchy-matchy with this either. If you are using a deep, dark purple, look for something in a pastel purple.

In this video, I’ll show you how to design a garden that only uses purple flowers!

Or, you can choose other purple plants and flowers that have interesting foliage or texture. One of my favorite go-to flowers for this is the allium, commonly known as ornamental onion.


Allium bulbs can be grown in Zones 3-9, bloom in spring come in lots of different heights and sizes. They can really add a whimsical touch and unique texture to your purple garden!

Quick Tip: If you love these alliums, check out my post about creating amazing texture in your garden.

Here are some of my favorite purple perennial flowers. Obviously, there are hundreds of options, but these are a few that I love that show a lot of variation in their hue and texture.

Catmint 'Walkers Low"

Catmint ‘Walkers Low’ (Nepeta faassenii, Zones 3-8, 2-3’H x 2-3’W)
Long-lived, tidy, pretty border plant that blooms throughout the growing season. This mounding herbaceous perennial has spicy fragrant leaves and features waves of cool, lavender blue flowers that bring butterflies in droves.

Globe Thistle 'Taplow Blue'

Globe Thistle ‘Taplow Blue’ (Echinops bannaticus, Zones 4-9, 4-5’H x 2’W)
Spiky globes of blue blooms sit above coarse, thistle-like green lives with silvery-white understones. Globe Thistle is a very architectural plant, standing upright to over 4 feet. The foliage adds a lot of texture and even after blooming the dried seedheads will add interest to your fall and winter garden.

Rose of Sharon 'Blue Chiffon'

Rose of Sharon ‘Blue Chiffon’ (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodthree’, Zones 5-9, 8-12’H x 5-6’W)
Blue Chiffon is sure to provide some much-needed color to your mid-summer and fall garden. Blue flowers with lacy centers of light lavender-blue petals give it a semi-double appearance. The flower centers are accented with wine-red hues that streak out from the veins of the petals.

Salvia 'May Night"

Salvia ‘May Night’ ( Salvia sylvestris, Zones 3-8, 18″H x 18-24″W)
Glowing purple stems loaded with violet-purple flowers that bloom from June to October. With its blue-gray, lance-shaped aromatic foliage, it makes an attractive accent all summer long.

Astra Double Blue Balloon Flower

Balloon Flower ‘Astra Double Blue’ (Platycodon, Zones 3-8, 8-10″H x 6-8″W)
Dwarf balloon flower forms compact, well-branched plants.This heavy bloomer gets its name from the way each flower bud swells before its starry petals unfold. Balloon-like buds burst open into bell-shaped double blue flowers

Plant similar colors to purple

Another great option when choosing plants to compliment your purple blooms is to look to the color wheel.

Color wheel for garden color schemes

To find the right colors, simply find the purple color on the color wheel that’s closest to your purple bloom. Then, find flowers that bloom in the shades that are right next to that color. Learn more about using the color wheel in your garden.

  • If your flower is pure purple, combine with magenta and violet
  • If your flower is violet, combine with purple and blue
Analogous garden color scheme with blue, violet and purple
Image Credit: Asters – Ian & Lindsay on Flickr

In this example, these are all the same flower– asters! Asters are daisy-like perennials with starry-shaped flower heads. Depending on the variety, asters will grow in Zones 3-8.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Asters bring color to the garden in late summer and autumn when many of your other summer blooms may be fading. The other great thing about asters is they come in many colors and many different heights — from 8 inches to 6 feet!

For this combination, I started with the violet asters, which are a blue-purple color. Then, I looked to the color wheel to see what’s right next to violet. This is where the blue and pure purple aster blooms come into play.

Here are some asters varieties to try if you want to get this look in your own garden:

  • Violet asters (try Aster novi-belgii ‘Eventide’, Zones 4-8)
  • Blue asters (try Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’, Zones 4-8)
  • Purple asters (try Aster alpinus ‘Dark Beauty’, Zones 4-9)

You don’t have to choose all the same flower type, either. Just play with the three colors you’ve chosen to create a really harmonious garden color palette. This is called an analogous color scheme and it’s a really restful, peaceful combination for you to try.

Quick Tip: If you’re enjoying learning about the color wheel, you’ll love my post about creating gorgeous garden color schemes.

Add Excitement with Opposites!

This is probably my favorite option, since I really love a lot of color in the garden. By looking to the color wheel again, you’ll just choose the color that’s directly opposite of the purple color blooms you already have. If you plant flowers in this color, they will really add energy and excitement to your garden.

Orange Emperor Tulip

Tulip ‘Orange Emperor’ (Tulipa fosteriana, Zones 3-8, 14-16″H x 3-6″W )
A great option to add a pop of color with your spring-blooming purple flowers is the ‘Orange Emperor’ Tulip. This is one of the longest-blooming and hardiest tulips on the market! Huge blooms have glowing orange petals with a pale yellow base inside and measure up to 10″ wide when fully opened.

Yellow-orange hues will make the purple pop! And the purple will make your yellow-orange hues pop!

Purple Salvia with Orange Butterfly weed
Image Credit Larry Hansford

One of my favorite examples of this is something I grow in my own garden, which is violet salvia and amber butterfly weed. This is a beautiful summer combination that’s easy to grow and will attract tons of butterflies and bees to your garden.

Yellow-Purple Complimentary Garden Color Scheme
Image Credit BHG

In this example, light purple catmint and deep-violet salvia are combined with yellow yarrow, which is directly across from purple on the color wheel.

You really can’t go wrong with an opposite combination, which is called a complimentary color scheme!

Go Similar, then Different

This is a more complex scheme for your garden, but once you understand the color wheel you’ll have no problems (you’ve got this). Basically, we’re just going to combine the analogous color scheme with the complimentary color scheme.

Complex Garden Color Scheme with blue, violet, purple and amber
Complex (Blue, Violet, Purple and Amber) Garden Color Scheme – Image Credit

Isn’t this beautiful? To achieve this look, find purple on the color wheel, then pick the colors that are on either side of that color, such as violet and blue. Then, find the color directly opposite of your purples, like amber (yellow-orange) and plant a flower with that color, too.

Here are some plant varieties to try if you want this beautiful color scheme at home:

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Purple and White Plant Combination

Another great companion planting in the garden is purple flowers and white flowers. White and purple make a beautiful, regal combination. Plus, white goes with everything… right?

Purple and white flower garden
Image Source

Here’s a delightful flower garden made with only purple and white flowers. Purple hardy geranium (left) and catmint (right) and are combined with white flowers to make a beautiful summer blooming combination.

For a purple/white garden, try these varieties:

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are many, many options available to plant with purple flowers.

Plant a variety of purple flowers of different hues, such as light pastel, medium and dark purple together.

Compliment purple flowers with similar colors like pink-purple (magenta) or a blue-purple (violet) flowers.

Combine purple purple with an opposite color, like yellow or yellow-orange.

Add similar colors like pink-purple (magenta) and blue-purple (violet) to your purple garden, then take it up a notch with pops of opposite colors like yellow or yellow orange (amber).

Try a peaceful combination with purple flowers combined with white flowers and foliage.

What are your favorite purple flowers to plant? What would you combine them with in your garden?

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What to plant with purple flowers Pin
Don’t forget to pin this post for later: What to plant with purple flowers
Best Plant Identification Apps (That Actually Work)

Best Plant Identification Apps (That Actually Work)

If you’ve ever walked by a beautiful plant and wondered what it is, you need a plant identification app. With the right app tucked away in your pocket, you’ll be able to to identify those unique plants you spot while out and about.

Unfortunately there are like 7 gazillion plant identification apps in the app store. And I’ve probably tried them all (no joke). Here’s an idea… How about a post with two amazing plant identification apps that actually work instead of a listing of 20+ apps that don’t really work? Finally… right?

Luckily I’ve found two awesome plant ID apps that I use religiously. These are the only ones you’ll need: Google Lens and Right Plants.

Plant Id Made Easy with These Apps
Apps for plant identification that ACTUALLY work! Yay!

So let’s cut to the chase so you can learn the best and easiest way to identify cool plants while you’re on-the-go!

Google Lens – The Best App for Plant ID

Purpose: Identify a plant “in the wild” that you’ve never seen before or want to know the name of.

What I find hilarious about my top recommendation is that Google Lens isn’t really even a plant identification app. Google Lens is a pretty cool app to identify lots of things.

As you pan your screen around, you’ll see little bubbles popping up everywhere. When you see this, you know that Google Lens has identified the object. You can use Google Lens to identify plants or even weeds.

It’s also useful for identifying the cool shirt that the woman in front of you in the checkout line is wearing. Or to scan (and/or translate) text from a sign or a receipt.

Heck, I’ve even used to to identify what kind of dog my mixed-breed rescue mutt Sally is. Watch this video to see how I use the Google Lens app to identify multiple plants as well as my dog’s breeds.

Google Lens is free and is available for iOS or Android smartphones. Learn more about Google Lens.

Right Plants App

Purpose: Learn more about the plant you’ve just identified or to get more info on a plant while at the nursery.

The Right Plants App is an incredible database of plants… they actually have over 5,000 and it’s growing every day. While I don’t use this specifically for plant identification… it is part of my process. Let me explain…

Usually I will find a plant I love while I’m out and about. If I’m walking Sally, I open up my Google Lens app to identify the plant in question. Then, I take the name of the plant and plug it into the Right Plants App.

In the other scenario I’m at the garden center or nursery looking for a particular plant to put into my landscape. I’m digging around in the pot looking for a tag to tell me what a plant is. Finally, I find one and it says something really generic like “salvia” or “clematis.”

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Seriously… like wth. I hate hate hate that plant tags don’t identify the specific plant. Or, they put a really generic description that doesn’t necessarily fit with the plant you want to purchase. If I have to, I’ll “re-identify” the plant with the Google Lens app to make sure that the garden center tag is even correct.

Then, I pull out my Right Plants App and search for details there.

The Right Plants App provides all kinds of information about the plant. Get bloom periods, plant sizes, sun and soil conditions, seasonal features and so much more. The app creator, Neil Bromhall, came up with the idea for this app when he was filming ‘The Private Life of Plants” for BBC. He said he wanted to provide an app that gives gardeners great advice so they can choose the right plants for their gardens.

“I wanted to to allow people of all levels of experience to find the right plants to suit every condition of a garden to produce colour and interest throughout the year. I could take all the photographs but I needed Authors to write about the plants. I wanted authors with mud under their fingernails who would write about the plants with descriptions rather than just basic information which you get on labels.”

Neil Bromhall, Right Plants App Creator

With this app you can search a plant name or you can select different filters in order to find a great plant for your own landscape. Maybe you have a tree but do’t know what will grow under it. Or what plant will grow up your garage wall? Maybe you have lots of books but it takes too long to look through them… and when you actually do you really can’t find the information you need. I really love this app because it completely aligns with my goal to give you the information you need to design your dream garden.

Quick Tip: If all of this sounds great to you but you need more than just an app, you should check out my course “4-Season Garden Design.” It will change the way you think about gardening!

The beautiful photography and multiple shots of each plant is what really makes this app shine. I love being able to see so many gorgeous photos of each plant.

The Right Plants App is available on Android and iOS for free. There’s also a premium upgrade option to get more features.

Best apps for plant identification - pin for later

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. Two apps that an avid gardener uses on a regular basis to identify plants and also get more information about the plant. While it would be great if these features were available with one single app, I love how much information I can glean from Google Lens App and the Right Plants App when used in combination.

The digital age is here my friends… even for us gardeners. There is so much information and so many tools available if you embrace technology. It’s incredible that we can now identify plants quickly from the palm of our hands.

Do you have a favorite plant ID app that you use? Let me know in the comments below!


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Stunning Plants For a Shady Landscape

Stunning Plants For a Shady Landscape

Creating a beautiful garden is super easy… when you have a sunny location. But what if you have a shady yard that’s not getting much sun? Suddenly the options feel very limited. If you are struggling to find beautiful, flowering perennials that will grow under a tree canopy or in dappled shade, you are in the right place! I’ll show you how to design a colorful, flowering garden in your shady landscape.

Who wouldn't take the stepping stone path through this shady woodland garden filled with stepping stones, hosta, hydrangea and astilbe?
Who wouldn’t take the stepping stone path through this shady woodland garden filled with stepping stones, hosta, hydrangea and astilbe? Source-Pinterest

How much sun or shade does your yard get?

Before we talk about designing for a shady landscape, you may be wondering if your landscape is actually considered full shade or part shade. Here are some definitions that will help you figure this out!

Full Sun: Full sun means that the area of your garden that you’re planting gets at LEAST 6 hours of sunlight per day.

Part Sun or Part Shade: These are the same thing. This means that your garden gets at least 3 hours of sun per day

Full Shade or Deep Shade:  If the area gets very little, if any, direct sunlight at any time of the day you have a full shade area. Typically this is a dense, wooded area or an area under a canopy or structure.

What can you grow in a shady yard?

There are plenty of shrubs, plants and even flowers that will thrive in a shady spot! Not all gardens need to be planted in the sun… you just have to make sure that you’re planting the right plants for your space. 

When growing plants in a shady area you should try to rely a bit more on the foliage of the plants rather than blooming flowers. That’s because most plants will require at least SOME sun in order to flower. Designing around interesting foliage and texture will give you a better result in the long run. 

Once you choose some interesting foliage for your shady garden, you can then add in some flowering perennials that can tolerate a shady location (plant suggestions below).

Woodland gardens offer great inspiration for a shady area. That’s because woodland gardens are usually growing under a large canopy of trees that only let in a little bit of dappled shade… even in the middle of the day. 

Quick Tip: Not sure what garden style is right for you? Check out this article to learn about garden design styles and which plants work for each type!

In addition to the above, you can also supplement your shady garden perennials with some annuals. This is a great way to add the color you crave! And, the great part about annuals is that you can change it up every year to give the space a different feeling. Some great annuals for the shade are Impatiens, Coleus and Begonias.

If you’re looking for some ideas, check out my Woodland Gardens Pinterest board for even more inspo!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Perennials that do well in shade

Looking for the best plants for shaded areas? Well you’re in the right place. While there are many perennials that do well in part shade or dappled shade, many of these are perennials that have great looking foliage rather than flower blooms. So you may need to consider designing a garden with a lot of foliage texture and variation rather than relying highly on flower blooms.

Shade plants with interesting foliage

Hosta Elegans

Hosta elegans foliage is a beautiful shade of blue-green.
Hosta elegans foliage is a beautiful shade of blue-green.

All hostas are great options for your shade garden. You should even consider planting an entire garden bed filled with different varieties of hostas. One of my favorites to try is Hosta Elegans. This hosta is extra-large with eye-catching heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are a beautiful shade of blue-green and have such a unique texture they look almost as if they have been stitched by a seamstress. The only downfall to hostas are that they are basically deer candy so if you live in an area with a lot of deer it’s not a great option.

30” H x 40-60” W, Full Shade, Zones 3-8

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich ferns have emerald green fronds of foliage.
Ostrich ferns have emerald green fronds of foliage.

Ostrich ferns will make a great backdrop to the Hosta Elegans. The dark emerald green fronds of foliage fan out in a vase shape that resembles an ostrich tail. 

4-5’ H x 4-5’ W, Full Sun – Full Shade, Zones 3-8

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral bells come in a variety of colors so you're sure to find the right one for your shade garden!
Coral bells come in a variety of colors so you’re sure to find the right one for your shade garden!

Coral bells, also known as heuchera, are one of my favorite plants and I have multiple colors throughout my garden. Their colorful foliage comes in greens, oranges, reds and more… you’re sure to find the color you want.  I love that they keep their color all year long instead of just a short time like a flowering perennial.

12-18” H x 12-18” W, Full Sun – Part Shade, Zones 4-9

Flowering perennials that grow in shade

While the perennials above are really interesting foliage perennials to use, here are some flowering perennials that you can try!

Astilbe ‘Visions in Pink

Astilbe 'Visions in Pink' is a beautiful rosy blush color.
Astilbe ‘Visions in Pink’ is a beautiful rosy blush color.

Astilbes are one of the easiest perennial flowers to grow in the shade and works great in borders,  along paths and even in a container. Plumes of flowers in pink, lavender, red, blush, white and salmon rise above fern-like foliage. ‘Visions in Pink’ or ‘Visions in White’ are great varieties to light up your shade garden.

20-30″ H x 20-30″ W, Part Sun – Shade, Zones 4-8

Bleeding Heart ‘Luxuriant’

Bleeding Heart 'Luxuriant' blooms from May through September with heart-shaped flowers.
Bleeding Heart ‘Luxuriant’ blooms from May through September with heart-shaped flowers.

With pink, heart-shaped flowers and fern-like foliage, Bleeding Heart ‘Luxuriant’ blooms from May to September and also attracts butterflies!

12-15” H x 20” W, Full Sun – Full Shade, Zones 3-8

Bluebells ‘Virginia’

Virginia Bluebells are native wildflowers perfect for a woodland shade garden.
Virginia Bluebells are native wildflowers perfect for a woodland shade garden.

Virginia bluebells are native wildflowers that colonize in the moist woodlands of eastern North America Bluebells have smooth gray-green foliage with clusters of pink buds that open into light blue trumpet-shaped flowers.  Plant Virginia Bluebells to see early spring blooms and frequent visits from pollinators. Blooms will last for many weeks in early spring (April and May) and go dormant by mid-summer. 

18-24” H x 18-24” W, Part Sun-Shade, Zones 3-8

Aster ‘Sky Blue’

Aster 'Sky Blue' is a great option for the middle of the border in your shade garden.
Aster ‘Sky Blue’ is a great option for the middle of the border in your shade garden.

Aster ‘Sky Blue’ is a North American native wildflower that is great for middle of the border and grows even in the shadiest of gardens. The aster’s foliage has an airy texture and the pale blue-lavender blooms attract butterflies!

Quick Tip: If you are ready to get started, here’s a full list of perennials that grow in full shade that you can purchase online today.

Ground covers that grow in shade

Here are some of my favorite groundcovers that can tolerate full or part shade.

Periwinkle ‘Vinca Minor’

Periwinkle is a beautiful groundcover  with bluish purple flowers that create a bed of color in your shade garden.
Periwinkle is a beautiful groundcover with bluish purple flowers that create a bed of color in your shade garden.

Periwinkle is also known as Trailing Myrtle, Dwarf Periwinkle and Creeping Myrtle. It has green foliage and blooms with little blue/purple 1” flowers that create a bed of color in your shade garden. Periwinkle is a versatile ground cover and make a great cover for bulb beds. It can also be used to stabilize soils and prevent erosion on slopes and banks..

6” H x 18” W, Full Sun – Full Shade, Zones 4-9

Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’

Dark burgundy (almost black) foliage of bugleweed is a great groundcover for shade.
Dark burgundy (almost black) foliage of bugleweed is a great groundcover for shade.

Ajuga or bugleweed is a really dark burgundy ground cover that does great in shady areas. In the spring, spikes of deep lavender (almost blue) shoot up from the dense, dark carpet of wavy leaves. Bugleweed can also tolerate light foot traffic making it great for a woodland path or between stepping stones.

6” H x 36” W, Part Shade, Zones 4-9

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff has little white flowers that will light up a shady corner of your garden.
Sweet woodruff has little white flowers that will light up a shady corner of your garden.

Sweet Woodruff is a deciduous to semi-evergreen ground cover forming thick mats that spread widely by underground runners. Dainty white flowers top find-textured green foliage in mid-late spring. This is a great ground cover for underplanting a woodland garden. Locate Sweet Woodruff with caution because it likes to spread and can spread vigorously.

8-10″ H x 12-18″ W, Part Sun – Shade, Zones 5-9

Design a beautiful garden for a shady landscape.
Design a beautiful garden for a shady landscape.

Wrapping Up

You know that you have a shady landscape if you are getting under 3 hours of sun in that area per day. When designing a shade garden, you need to rely heavily on variations in leaf foliage rather than just on flower blooms. 

Look to woodland gardens for inspiration as these plants are growing and thriving  under tall canopies of trees and usually only see dappled shade–even in the middle of the day!

Try planting coral bells, hostas and ferns for their great contrasting foliage. Combine great foliage with flowering perennials like astilbe or bleeding hearts that can tolerate shade and still flower. For underfoot, try a carpet of periwinkle, sweet woodruff or some bugleweed between your stepping stones. 

Finally, remember that just because you have an area that’s not getting a lot of sun doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden!

What’s your favorite plant to grow in shade? Let me know in the comments below!

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15+ Unique Plants with Burgundy Leaves (Showstoppers!)

15+ Unique Plants with Burgundy Leaves (Showstoppers!)

If you’re anything like me… you want a garden that is beautiful and unique. I’m always on the lookout for new and unusual plants that will enhance my landscape.

One of my favorite ways to experiment in the garden is by using plants with burgundy leaves and foliage. It’s such an unexpected color to incorporate into your landscape. And, there’s a surprisingly high number of plants, from ground covers and grasses to shrubs and trees.

What I like most about plants with burgundy leaves is that the dark backdrop really sets off the flowers both on the plants and in front of the plants. It’s almost as if they are popping out at you.

Many plants with burgundy foliage also sport really unique features like prolific blooms, edible berries and event scents that will make you fall in love with them.

Watch the video: How to use burgundy foliage in your landscape.

The best plants with burgundy foliage for your landscape

These are some of my favorite shrubs and plants with burgundy leaves. Keep scrolling for more details and pictures of each!

Quick Tip: Love color? Learn how to create gorgeous color schemes in your garden.

Elderberry Black Beauty

Zones: 4-7
8-12′ H x 5-6′ W
Full to part sun

Elderberry ‘Black Beauty’ begins its show with clusters of lovely, lemon-scented pink blooms in spring. The dark, fern-like foliage looks gorgeous even when it’s not in bloom. It also attracts birds (and people) with tasty summer berries. 

Amy Fedele, Pretty Purple Door

The elderberry black beauty has exotic, fern-like deep purple foliage with purple young stems. Clusters of pink blooms with a lemony scent envelop this unique shrub, attracting butterflies. It also bears yummy fruit (elderberries) in the summer that both people and birds love.

In order to bear fruit, plant a compatible pollinator such as Black Lace, Instant Karma, or Laced up elderberry nearby. Both shrubs will produce berries when cross pollinated.

Crape Myrtle Black Diamond Pure White

Zones: 5-9
10-12′ H x 8′ W
Full sun

The Black Diamond Pure White Crape Myrtle has dark, almost black foliage spring to summer white ruffled flowers all season. This is a small, multi-stemmed tree that’s even drought-tolerant once established. It’s contrasting deep maroon (almost black) foliage and pure white flowers are sure to get lots of attention!

Japanese Maple Bloodgood

Zones: 5-9
15-20′ H x 12-15′ W
Part sun

The delicate reddish-burgundy leaves of the Bloodgood Japanese Maple are showcased on strong branches. The leaf color only gets more brilliant through the year, ranging from orange-red, bronze-red, through to purple-red.

The Bloodgood Japanese Maple is certainly a beautiful ornamental tree for any gardener looking to add red or burgundy foliage to the landscape.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Japanese Maple Inaba Shidare

Japanese Maple 'Inaba Shidare'

Zones: 5-9
10-15′ H x 8-15′ W
Full to part sun

The gorgeous Inaba Shidare Japanese Maple is a small weeping tree that has a shrub-like appearance. In spring, the leaves are a deep reddish burgundy and only get more brilliant through the year. In fall, the leaves turn a bright fiery red.

Ninebark Tiny Wine

Ninebark Tiny Wine Burgundy Foliage and pink clusters of flowers

Zones: 3-8
3-4′ H x 3-4′ W
Full to part sun

Disease resistant, pest resistant and the perfect size, it’s hard to find a friendlier shrub for the home gardener than Tiny Wine Ninebark. It’s little bundles of spring flowers envelop the shrub in pinkish-white clusters of color.

When the burgundy-maroon leaves drop in winter, the exposed bark of Tiny Wine has a striking, peeling appearance that will add interest to your winter garden.

Ninebark Diablo

Zones: 3-7
8-10′ H x 8-10′ W
Full to part sun

Diablo Ninebark features eye-catching creamy white flowers, deep reddish purple leaves, and wonderfully textured bark. It’s a real knockout plant that’s also easy to grow.

Diablo gets fairly large so make sure you have the space for it!

Smoke Bush ‘Velveteeny’ or ‘Royal Purple

Red-burgundy foliage on a compact shrub.

Zones 4-8
3-4′ W x 3-4′ H
Full-Part Sun
Blooms in summer

So uniquely beautiful, you will never regret planting a smoke bush. With dwarf varieties like Velveteeny widely available, even gardeners with small spaces can grow this show-stopper.

-Amy Fedele, PRetty Purple Door

At just 3-4′ tall, smoke bush ‘Velveteeny’ offers the same silky smooth, deep burgundy foliage with large feathery dove gray/pink plumes in summer. In the fall, its unique purple foliage transforms to bright red, adding an additional season of interest. Velveteeny has similar qualities as her big brother ‘Royal Purple‘, but in a petite, dwarf form perfect for small home landscapes.

Ajuga Black Scallop

Zones: 4-9
4-6in H x 3′ W
Part sun

Ajuga, also known as bugleweed is a great groundcover, especially for shady areas. The leaves of Black Scallop are so dark burgundy they are almost black (hence, the name).

In spring, tiny spikes of deep-lavender flowers shoot up from the leaves! It’s a great addition to any garden featuring burgundy foliage.

Little Miss Maiden Grass

Zones: 5-9
2-3′ H x 1-4′ W
Full sun

Little Miss Maiden Grass is a great addition to any garden featuring burgundy foliage. Many gardens I see are often lacking the the motion and background noise that a beautiful grass adds to the landscape.

Little Miss’s graceful foliage emerges in early spring. As the summer wears on, the outer foliage turns brilliant red and purple that intensifies into the fall. This is a perfect grass to try if you are looking to take your burgundy garden to the next level.

Penstemon ‘Onyx & Pearls’

Penstemon 'Onyx & Pearls' penstemon digitalis

Zones: 3-8
3.5′ H x 3-3.5′ W
Full sun

Penstemon ‘Onyx & Pearls’ (penstemon digitalis) is a striking native flower with tall spikes of cream flowers with a wash of lavender that pop against the deep purple burgundy foliage. A tall, upright perennial that is deer resistant and right at home in sunny gardens. Drier native meadow gardens and borders are the perfect site for this hardy plant, where bees and hummingbirds are sure to visit! ‘Blackbeard‘ is another variety to check out with deep purple leaves.

Fairy Wing ‘After Midnight’ (Barrenwort)

Fairy Wing 'After Midnight' (Barrenwort) Epimedium x youngianum

Zones 5-9
8-12″ H x 8-12″ W
Part Sun-Shade

Starting out with a burst of chocolate, the leaflets of ‘After Midnight‘ (Epimedium x youngianum) soon become green at the center, crisply trimmed in bronze. These make a stunning backdrop for its flowers, which will draw you in from across the garden. Sepals are cherry-rimmed and fall away to reveal a flurry of white flowers that contrast so well with the dark foliage. This is a lovely low-grower to place along a shady walkway or in the crevice of a large boulder.

Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Heuchera, or coral bells come many, many different varieties. I love them for their unique foliage color, their petite size (12-18″ wide and high) and the fact that they keep their leaves and color throughout the winter months. Hardy in zones 4-9, coral bells will thrive in both sun and partial shade.

Here are some heuchera varieties featuring red and burgundy leaves:

Heuchera Fire Alarm
Photo by Pretty Purple Door.

Plants with green leaves and red stems / veining

Plants with green leaves and red stems (or veins) are also a great option when you’re trying to choose plants to combine with your burgundy foliage. If every plant has burgundy leaves… it’s all just going to blend together.

So, in order to maintain the magic of your burgundy plants, you can try mixing in some plants that have green leaves and red stems.

The best part is that the red veining will be accentuated with planted next to your burgundy foliage.

Here are some green leafed / red stemmed plants to check out:

Panacle Hydrangea Quick Fire

Panacle Hydrangea Quick Fire has green leaves and red stems

Zones: 4-8
6-8′ H x 6-8′ W
Full to part sun

This is a gorgeous hydrangea with beautiful ivory white blooms, big matte-textured leaves, and deep red veining. Quickfire blooms earlier than other hydrangea varieties, provides a floral show from summer through fall, and even provides winter interest with its dried flowers

If you like this shrub but it’s a little bit too big, you’re in luck. There’s also a Hydrangea Little Quick Fire, which is a bit smaller at 3-5′ H x 3-5′ W. It’s hardy from Zones 3-8.

Heuchera (Coral Bells)

I also mentioned coral bells in the section above. Many varieties of coral bells also feature red stems or veins (like Forever Red, Berry Smoothie and Red Lightening).

Some coral bells even feature a different color on the bottom of their leaves. For example, the variety Caramel is a burnt orange color. But, if you flip the foliage over, the underside has a strikingly bright burst of deep red!

So, make sure you flip over the coral bells leaves when you see them in the nursery. You may be surprised to find that it won’t be the same color you see on the top of the leaf!

How to pair plants with burgundy foliage

Over the weekend I picked up a few unusual plants. And, I know it can be challenging for many gardeners to pair plants together. Especially ones with unusual dark/burgundy foliage.

So, I thought I’d share a little bit about why I chose these three beautiful plants in particular.

Black Beauty Elderberry
Black Diamond Pure White Crape Myrtle
Panacle Hydrangea Quick Fire (you might also like Little Quick Fire, which is a bit smaller)

Find similarities in the plants you want to pair.

First and foremost, the goal is to pair plants with similar features to tie them together, but different features to set them apart. Sounds so confusing, I know. Well, these three plants have two things in common:

  1. Bloom color (white): They are all in the white, cream, very light pink family. 
  2. Foliage or stem color (burgundy): The elderberry and the crape myrtle have a similar very dark burgundy (almost black foliage).
    The hydrangea has green foliage but the stems are a dark red, almost burgundy.

Find differences in the plants you want to pair.

What does each plant have that stands it apart?

The leaves all have differences!

Different how? In the size. In the shape. In the texture. This is the key!

The hydrangea has a really pretty, broad leaf. It’s the largest leaf of the bunch and it’s not the least bit shiny.

The crape myrtle has a smaller leaf to it, and it’s a definitely shinier than the dull/matte texture of the hydrangea leaf. It also has a curled appearance.

The elderberry leaf is the most different of all. It’s really fine and delicate. It kind of reminds me of the foliage of a fern.

So as you can see… they have similarities… but they also have differences.

The key to plant pairing success.

Make sure that your plant combos have common themes but ALSO have enough personality to set themselves apart from one other. Like I mentioned earlier, my post about combining plants will also be really helpful if you want to master this.

Choosing different leaf shapes and sizes is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track so that your plants will look great even when they’re not blooming.

Quick Tip: If you love the idea of combining plants in a 4-season garden, check out my post about how to make unforgettable plant combinations to learn even more!

Wrapping Up

So there you have it — a huge list of beautiful plants with burgundy leaves. Burgundy foliage helps not only the flowers on the plant to stand out, but also creates a wonderful backdrop to showcase plants in front of them.

When working with burgundy be sure to think about what the plant will look like each season and how you can use other parts of plants to create a cohesive garden. For example, we talked about using the maroon stem/veining of the Quick Fire Hydrangea to compliment the burgundy foliage of the elderberry and crape myrtle.

What’s your favorite plant with burgundy foliage? Let me know if in the comments below and I’ll add it to the post!

25 Amazing Plants with Burgundy Red Leaves Pinterest

Check out these other great articles about gardening

How To Prevent Weeds From Sucking the Life Out of Your Garden

How To Prevent Weeds From Sucking the Life Out of Your Garden

i.e. What to do about garden weeds.
i.e. How to prevent weeds and permanently remove them from your garden.

Weeds are the antagonist of every gardener’s story. How can we conquer and defeat this relentless enemy? How can we be the hero gardener who has finally solved this incredibly frustrating problem?

Well… I’m being a little dramatic here, but preventing weeds is definitely a subject of passion for every gardener. That’s because weeds are in every single garden. In every single climate. They can be the vein of your gardening existence if you let them. But — you won’t have to!

To prevent weeds in a garden bed, don’t till the soil as little and block weeds from water and sunlight. Plant tightly and use groundcovers and mulch to smother weeds. Stick to a regular weeding schedule to keep weeds in check.

If you’re looking for the best tools to tackle weeds and grow healthy plants, you can check out all of my recommendations in my Amazon Store.

If you already have weeds taking over your peaceful gardening colony, you’ll find my favorite techniques and tools to exile your weed enemies once and for all!

Here’s the process I use to remove weeds from large areas of the garden and keep them from coming back. You can tackle this task in small chunks and get your whole garden back in order.

Why weeds are a problem

Other than the time-consuming task of having to remove weeds from your garden, weeds can actually cause much bigger issues. An overabundance of weeds in your garden leads to what’s called weed pressure. Some problems caused by weed pressure are:

  • Nutrient depletion: Nutrients in your soil are consumed by growing weed, leading to less nutrients for the plants you actually want to grow.
  • Shading: Weeds typically grow much faster than the crop plant and the weed canopy can become dense enough to reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches your plants.
  • Water diversion: Just like any other plant, weeds need water for growth. If the weeds are using up the available water in your garden, it reduces the amount of water available for your plants and crops.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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As you can see, weed pressure is kind of like an infestation — basically the weeds grow at a rate faster than your plants do. When this happens, the weeds end up overtaking your plants and make it really difficult to manage the problem.

But no worries here! Follow some of my simple tips and techniques to prevent weeds from growing. And in the unfortunate case that you already have a weed problem, I have some advice for that, too.

Prevent weeds in your garden

It’s always better if you can prevent weeds, rather than having to remove weeds. So, in a perfect world, if you’re just starting out, follow the guidelines below to keep your garden free from weed pressure. Once the buggers start growing it will be much more difficult to resolve the problem. That’s why proper planning of your garden beds is key to a healthy, low-maintenance garden.

Don’t be digging too much

Digging and cultivating your soil will bring hidden weed seeds to the surface. Tilling your soil will actually bring all of these weed seeds to the surface. Once they hit sunlight they will germinate into weeds. So, it’s best not to disturb your garden if at all possible.

If you must till your garden, or add some compost and other nutrients to your soil, it’s not the end of the world. Just know that tilling will sprout weeds and that you’ll need to stay on top of them for the next few weeks. Pull out any new weeds you see right when they pop up.

When you are digging out weeds, keep the disturbance of the soil around the weed to a minimum. Some gardeners recommend using a sharp knife with a narrow blade to slice through weed roots rather than digging them out and disturbing even more soil.

Another method you can try after tilling a large area of the garden is to wait until a lot of weeds are sprouting, then till just the surface of the soil again to kill the new weeds. You may have to do this two or three times before you’re able to actually plant that area.  

My favorite method for reducing weeds is the no dig method. The jist of the “no dig” method is to cover the area (grassy or weeded) with a layer of cardboard or several layers of newspaper. Then you wet the paper, add 1.5″ of compost then add at least 2″ of mulch to the top. Water this well and the microorganisims from your soil will come to the surface and till the soil for you. The paper will also smother any weeds you have growing in your garden.

I use this method pretty much every spring. I lay some fresh newspaper down around my plants, cover with more compost and top with mulch. It really works wonderfully and I’ve seen a significant decrease in the amount of weeds in my garden! I explain the whole thing in this post. Try it out!

Do not water the evil weeds

According to Fine Gardening Issue 127, depriving weeds of water can reduce weed seed germination by 50-70%.  So, how can you deprive the weeds of water but still get plants the water they need? The easiest way is using a drip irrigation soaker hose system. This is a good solution for watering your plants and not your weeds. Watering your garden by hand works, too, but it’s often tedious.

The only drawback is that deep-rooted perennial weeds like bindweed & nutsedge tend to pop up quickly when a soaker hose/drip irrigation system is used.

Maintain healthy soil that weeds will hate

Enriching your soil with organic matter every chance you get can move your garden along down the weed-free path. Soil scientists aren’t sure how it works, but fewer weed seeds germinate in soil that contains fresh compost and organic matter. So, be sure that you are keeping a healthy garden and you’ll be on yourway to reducing weeds.

Plant tightly so weeds won’t stand a chance

Planting your garden tightly is one of the best and easiest ways to prevent weeds. Weeds will grow anywhere there is bare space. So, if you plan out your garden so that your plants are touching each other you will leave a lot less room for weeds to grow.  Just be sure that you don’t overcrowd your plants.

If you have plants that are still growing into their full size, try filling the areas in between your plants with a low-maintenance annual, like impatiens. This will fill in your garden and give your perennials the space they need to grow.

Use groundcovers to smother your weeds

Groundcovers are another amazing technique for reducing the amount of weed growth. Groundcovers will spread and fill in the areas underneath your plantings, thus eliminating the sunlight that will get to any weed seeds. If weeds do happen to sprout, often times the groundcovers you plant will choke out the weeds and eliminate the problem for you.

Quick Tip: See my top perennial groundcover recommendations here.

Mulch: the ultimate weed preventor

Mulch is a great way to add nutrients to the soil. It also keeps your plants cool, retains moisture and creates a barrier that will make it difficult for weed seeds to sprout!

Mulch with a layer 2-3 inches deep. If you have a serious weed problem, you’ll need to mulch even deeper — to about 6”. Be sure to leave a little space around the crown of your plants so you don’t hurt them.

How to stop weeds from growing in mulch

Unfortunately, some mulch that you buy is laced with weed seeds… seemingly making your weed problem worse. There are a few things you can do to combat this common problem.

  • Use organic mulch:  Organic mulches can host crickets and carabid beetles that will devour thousands of weed seeds. You can purchase organic mulch locally.
  • Mulch alternatives: You can use wood chips, leaves or even grass clippings to mulch your beds. A rubber tree ring used around your trees acts as a mulch, too. By depriving your weeds of sunlight, they won’t be able to grow. So, these are all great alternatives to traditional mulch.

Quick Tip: Check out my article, Landscaping on a budget, for more details on low-cost mulch alternatives.

Prevent weed growth with landscape fabric

Using weed barrier landscape fabric, sometimes called groundcover sheeting, on top of the soil will create an extra level of protection against weeds.

The thing is… this isn’t my favorite method. And most people that have tried it really regret doing it later. So… do your research beforehand. The reason I don’t like this method for traditional garden beds is because of what I spoke about before: weeds don’t grow in good soil. If you are actually preventing any nutrients from getting into your soil by having a permanent layer on top of it, how can your soil be healthy?

You know what else is underneath that weed fabric? the roots of your plants. How can your plants get food and moisture properly if you are covering them up? Well, they really can’t. So, if you are planting in the area I’d really stay away from the weed fabric.

So when would you use weed fabric? The only time I personally would use it is for underneath a patio or a walkway. Adding landscape fabric beneath your hardscape can help to prevent weeds from growing. It still wont stop birds and wind from dropping their seeds from above, but it will solve half of the problem.

Other alternatives to traditional landscape fabric include cardboard, newspaper, or even burlap. I’d recommend these over the weed fabric if you’re growing any kind of plants.

Quick Tip: Don’t forget to check out my post on the no dig flower garden bed. This is a great solution to many weed problems you’ll experience as a new gardener!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Weeds are inevitable

Did you know that every square inch of your garden has weed seeds? Yes, it’s true. So when people ask me how to prevent weeds I usually chuckle a little bit on the inside. The truth is, you can’t.

Weeds are pretty much inevitable.

Even If you put a weed barrier under your mulch, you will still get weeds from seeds dropped by birds or carried in the wind.

Obviously, there are many things you can do to keep weeds at bay. But this is likely a war you will never truly win. So… don’t obsess over killing weeds so much. Weeds are just a part of gardening.

Change your mindset around weeds

I like to think of my weeding time as a time that I can get up close and personal with my plants. A time to check them out, see how they’re doing and appreciate their beauty while I pull weeds. I enjoy this time in my garden and I believe that you can too. It’s all about your mindset!

Removing weeds from your garden

In an ideal world, we would all follow these techniques to prevent weeds from growing in our garden. But… as you know… life happens. So, if you do find weeds popping up, attempt to get rid of your weeds right away. If you wait until the weeds take over your garden, it’s obviously going to be much more difficult to eliminate them. With that said, you can use some of the techniques below to get rid of weeds.

Once you are done removing the weeds, I’d recommend jumping back up to the “Preventing weeds in your garden” section. Use some (or all) of the recommendations in that section to keep the little buggers from coming back.

Commit (and stick) to a weeding schedule

If you’re a new gardener—or you’re working in a wild and weedy space—the first season will likely be a rough one. My best advice is to commit (and stick to) a weeding schedule. If you have more weeds than you can handle, keep weedy areas mowed until you’re ready to conquer them. You don’t want to take on a bigger area than you can handle!

“Pull when wet, hoe when dry”

So when is the best time to actually yank these buggers out of the ground? And how do we go about doing this? Great question!

If the soil is wet, you can usually pull weeds by hand or with a weeding tool. The best time do hand weed your garden is when the soil is moist, like after a rain. Check out the next section for some of my favorite weeding tool recommendations.

If the soil is dry, it’s much easier to hoe your weeds rather than pulling on them. A sharp loop hoe or a lightweight scuffle hoe are good tools for this. Slice the weeds with the sharp edge of your hoe. This cuts off the weed from the root and also creates what’s called “dust mulch” which can help prevent new weeds from germinating.

Sweep your hoe just below the surface of the soil. Make broad, sweeping motions (like how you would row a boat) to slice the tops off the weeds. Try hoeing your garden early in the morning, before you water the plants.

Tools for pulling weeds

Here are some of my favorite nifty tools for pulling weeds. These slayers will make your weeding job way easier… and maybe even fun (GASP)!

Personally, I am a huge fan of Dewit garden tools. While a bit on the expensive side, this brand is pretty much all I use in the hand tool department. They have a lovely 3-piece weeding set that will take care of all of your weeding needs. This a beautiful set… one that you can give to your neighbor with a serious weed problem. They will get the hint but they won’t even be mad at you because these tools are so pretty.

I also find this little hand weeding tool really useful. It has little prongs on the end so you can grab the root of the weed and pull up, giving you a better chance at getting all the roots out. You can conquer the world with this little tool in hand. Or, at least you’ll feel like you can.

If you’re looking for a long handled weeding tool, you can’t go wrong with the Fiskars long handled weeding tool — its fantastic. Just make sure you purchase the newer version of this tool with the orange handle in the CENTER of the handle… it’s much easier and faster to “eject” the weeds with this one.

By the way, ejecting weeds has to be one of the most satisfying gardening tasks I’ve ever completed. Stomp… lift… eject into bucket. Without bending over. Amazing.

As mentioned earlier, a sharp loop hoe or a lightweight scuffle hoe are both great options for eliminating weeds in dry soil. Remember… hoe hoe hoe your boat (use the same motion you would if you were rowing a boat with an oar).

Check out this video below to see the most popular long-handled weeder gadgets put to the test by the Crazy Russian Hacker. It’s a really entertaining, but thorough, garden tool review. I think I laughed approximately 37 times.

Treatment options: killing weeds without killing plants

Weed treatment is always a last resort for me. I’d much rather do the work to prevent weeds in the first place or handle what I can by hand. But I know it’s not always practical to get rid of your weeds without a chemical treatment.

At the beginning of the growing season you can use a weed preventer treatment to stop weeds in the first place. All you do is sprinkle on the treatment and water it in to prevent weeds for up to six months. It’s like magic in a bag.

Just note that this little bag of magic isn’t really magic. It contains a chemical called Pendimethalin, an herbicide that stops the growth of “certain” young plants. It’s intended to keep annual weeds like crabgrass and dandelions from sprouting and growing. While it shouldn’t affect established plants with mature root systems, I would still be cautious when sprinkling this magic dust any delicate plants or anything you are going to eat.

If you have pets, keep them away, too. They won’t get it.

Treating invasive vines with herbicide

A couple years back I had the nastiest, most invasive vine in my front garden bed. It was so aggressive and popped up everywhere choking out most of my flowers and even larger perennial plants. I pulled and pulled at this weed every day. No matter what I did, it got worse. Every time I pulled a piece of the vine out, three more tendrils would sprout up in other areas of my garden. It literally killed my entire garden. I cried a lot, but don’t tell anyone.

As a last resort, I had to use an herbicide to kill this invasive vine. I used Compare-N-Save Concentrate Grass and Weed Killer, 41-Percent Glyphosate. It’s really, really strong so please use with caution. This stuff will kill everything in its path. I really hate that I had to use it but if you are on the vine struggle bus like I was… this is going to do the trick.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Please wear gloves and even eye protection while handling the herbicide.
  2. Pour the herbicide into a shallow, plastic bowl.
  3. Sit down in your garden and cut the vine a little bit above ground level.
  4. Use a sponge paint brush to very carefully “paint” the herbicide onto the exposed vine.
  5. Be sure to set the exposed vine onto a piece of plastic or a rock so that the herbicide doesn’t touch anything else in your garden.

Seriously, don’t let the end of the vine with the herbicide on it touch the soil at all. This sh!t is strong and it will contaminate your soil if it touches it.

Anyway, to kill my vine from hell it took about 3 applications over the course of a couple weeks, then another application the next year. Eventually I won the battle!

Wrapping Up

While weeds are inevitable and a part of gardening, they don’t have to take over your life. There are many preventative measures you can take to set your garden beds up for success. In the event that you do find weeds, be sure that you only pull the weeds when the weather is wet. Hoe the weeds when it’s dry. Only use herbicides and chemicals as a last resort. Remember that the what you put in your garden can affect all of wildlife around you. Not to mention your pets, your family and yourself if you are out in the garden or eating from your garden. Please use caution when working with any of the tools and chemicals suggested.

Did I miss anything? Tell us your favorite techniques or tools for weed prevention and removal by leaving a comment below!

More Gardening Posts For You

How to prevent weeds from sucking the life out of your garden
For your pinning pleasure…

How to Balance an Asymmetrical Landscape (with Illustrations)

How to Balance an Asymmetrical Landscape (with Illustrations)

The easiest way to achieve balance in your landscape is to just plant the same stuff on both sides. But, when designing a layered landscape, you may not want your garden beds to exactly mirror themselves from side to side. A lot of beginner gardeners struggle with the concept of balance and how to make their landscapes look right.

If you want to take your landscape design up a notch, you need to have a basic understanding of plant mass and how it relates to the visual weight of your landscape. Don’t worry, creating a balanced and diverse garden is not as difficult as you think! It’s all about understanding what makes up the visual weight of your plants. Once you know this, you’ll be able to balance just about anything!

What does an unbalanced landscape look like?

Before I dive too deep into this, I wanted to provide you an example of what it may look like when your landscaping isn’t quite balanced.

It’s usually just a nagging feeling for a gardener. You know something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it. A lot of times, unbalanced landscapes aren’t terrible looking. But, the lack is what’s making the landscape feel mediocre instead of extraordinary.

This is a pretty typical example of the average home foundation planting. It looks ok and there’s some variety in the plantings, but it’s very unbalanced. Something just feels “off”… doesn’t it?

Example of an unbalanced landscape
Example of an unbalanced landscape.

Let’s figure out why and how we can fix it.

Diagnosing Landscape Balance Issues (Before)

  • The hedge row to the right of the walkway is way too large for the space. It’s also not balanced with the much smaller plants to the right of the walkway.
  • The garden bed on the right side of the walkway also feels much heavier than the planting on the left side of the home. This is because the shrub to the left of the home is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter, creating balance issues.
  • There is no planting to the right side of the home, leaving it feeling unbalanced with the shrubs to the left of the home.
  • The shrubs on the left side of the foundation are blocking light to the lower windows.

Resolving Landscape Balance Issues (After)

So, how do you actually fix these balance issues? Here’s what I would do:

  • Remove the oversized shrub to the right of the walkway and replant the left and right side of the walkway with more balanced plants.
  • The balance issue between the left side of the house and the walkway area was also resolved by removing the oversized walkway hedge.
  • Create a more substantial planting to the left of the home. Then, create a substantial planting bed to the right side of the driveway. Trees and shrubs on the right side of the driveway can be slightly larger because the elevation is lower.
  • Update the foundation planting under the left side windows so that the shrubs and plants do not block the windows.
  • Bonus: Incorporate color and focal points within the garden beds to guide a visitor up the steps and to the front door.

Here’s a before & after illustration of my balance fixes. Which do you like better?

Unbalanced landscape illustration - before
Here’s how it looks before, with balance issues. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.
Balanced landscape illustration - after
Here’s how it looks after, with better balance, color and focal points. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Now that you have some real world examples of unbalanced landscape, let’s learn more about how we can diagnose and fix our own landscape balance problems. Or, better yet, make sure that we don’t create a balance problem in the first place!

Balance is directly related to a plant’s visual “weight”

A plant’s visual weight is basically how big of a presence the plant has in your garden. Visual weight is made up of mainly three different elements; mass, color and density.

How plant mass affects balance

A plant’s mass is determined by its overall size; how much space it takes up in your garden; how wide and tall it is. This is really straightforward so lets not overthink it. A big plant demands attention and visually moves forward in a garden. The opposite is also true. A smaller plant will blend in with surroundings and recede into the background of your garden.

drawing of a tall conical tree that equals the mass of 3 smaller shrubs
A plant’s mass is determined by its overall size; how much space it takes up in your garden; how wide and tall it is. Because of this, a group of smaller shrubs can balance the mass of a taller tree of the same color and branching density. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

If you want to balance out your landscape, you can simply choose equal sized plants for either side. But it doesn’t have to be this predictable. Three smaller shrubs can also balance a larger tree, as in the example above.

How plant color affects balance

Plant color also plays a big role in balance. Even if your plants are the same size (or mass), they may not have the same visual weight. Certain colors carry more weight than others. As a rule of thumb, darker colors feel heavier than lighter colors.

Darker colors have a heavier visual weight than lighter colors

A dark green yew has a heavier weight than a blue juniper of the exact same size because color plays a role in plant weight. To balance this, you may need to add multiple junipers to balance out the heavier weight of the yew.

Quick Tip: Interested in learning more about color? You’ll want to read my post about creating gorgeous color schemes in your garden.

How plant density affects balance

The density of a plant can also affect balance in your landscape. Density is how “full” a tree or shrub is.

Some shrubs have sparse, wispy foliage. Other plants are really full and you can barely see through them. Some plants have tons of branches all mixed up and crossing over each other. Other plants have more open and loose branching structures. Obviously, the thicker the foliage and branching, the more density the plant has.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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That’s why you can’t balance a dense plant with an open and airy one.

Plant density is important in determining plant mass

The Colorado blue spruce (dense branches and dense needle texture) has a heavier weight than the Eastern white pine (open branches and open needle texture). Even if the spruce and the pine are the same size AND the same color, the spruce would carry a heavier weight because because of the branching density.

Quick Tip: The density of a plant is often a side-effect of a its overall texture. Learn more about using plant textures to make your garden exciting!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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The importance of balancing plant weight

The examples above are meant to show you that balance is not just about the size of the plants. That’s definitely one part of it. But, balance is also affected by the color and density, too!

A plant’s weight becomes most important in the winter months when many of your plants will lose their leaves and, thus, their overall weight. The example used at the beginning of the article is the perfect example of why this happens.

Evergreen trees and shrubs carry a garden’s structure throughout the winter because they remain solid and commanding. Large, dark-colored and dense evergreens will stand out and form the major “structure” elements of your winter landscape.

Think about your own landscape in the winter. Do you have all of your evergreens planted in one area? It may feel really out of balance when the foliage of your other trees and shrubs have dropped.

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Balance

Creating symmetrical balance in your garden design
Creating symmetrical balance in your garden design means you are mirroring your plantings from one side to the other. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Symmetrical balance in garden design: Mirroring your plants to achieve balance

There are two different ways to balance plants in your landscape using plant weight.

The first is symmetrical balance. Basically, repeating the same plants on either side of a path, bench or focal points creates a pleasing effect. That’s because, without even knowing it, you’re balancing the weights of the plants.

Achieving asymmetrical balance in your garden design
When creating asymmetrical balance in your garden, the plants on one side of the garden must equal the weight of the plants on the other side of the garden. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Asymmetrical balance in garden design: Understanding the visual weight of your plants

The second way to design your garden is to achieve asymmetrical balance in your plantings.

This is where your newfound knowledge comes in handy. When creating your mixed border, all you need to do is balance the weight of each side of your landscape. Asymmetrical planting schemes create more variety and interest in your landscape because it won’t feel so predictable.

When creating asymmetrical balance in your garden, pretend that you’re putting your plants on a teeter totter. You want to ensure that the plants on one side of the garden equal the weight of the plants on the other side of the garden.

Remember, the number of plants and their shapes aren’t as important as the total visual weight of the planting. They need to balance each other out. Use the principles of mass, color and density to figure out the overall plant mass of each grouping.

Asymmetrical Balance in Lanscape Design
Here’s another example of asymmetrical balance in garden design. The weight of the 3 cone-shaped evergreens balance out the weight of this large multi-stemmed shrub on the right. The weight of the purple spiky plant on the left balances the weight of the purple mounded shrub to the right. Nothing feels out of sync even thought different plants are used. Illustration by PrettyPurpleDoor.

Quick Tip: If you like this post, you’re going to love learning about creating an effective landscape using the layered planting techniques I share in this post.

Balance creates rhythm in the garden

You can use visual weight to your advantage by planting groups of heavyweight and lightweight plants throughout your landscape. This will create a rhythmic pattern, visual excitement and flow in your garden.

A person’s eyes will naturally bounce to from drifts of heavy and light plantings because they contrast one another. It’s a really fun way to create visual interest in your garden without using a single blooming flower!

Wrapping Up

If you wondered if your landscaping needs to be symmetrical in order to work, you now know that it doesn’t have to by. Using asymmetrical balance you can expand the types of plants that you use in your garden without making it feel lopsided and unprofessional.

Plant weight is determined by many factors including the size, color and branching density of your trees, shrubs and other plants.

Symmetrical balance just means that you mirror plants from one side of the garden to the other. Asymmetrical balance is when you determine the overall weight of the plants based on the size, color and branching density. Then, match the weight of each plant grouping on either side of a central point.

Grouping plants by their weight into drifts is great way to create interest and rhythm throughout your garden.

If you enjoyed this article, head over to my complete guide to garden design for non-designers for more helpful tips for creating your dream landscape. Or check out one of my online courses where you can learn how to design your garden with me!

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3 Rules for Balancing Plants in the Landscape
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How to make a flower bloom more (and longer)

How to make a flower bloom more (and longer)

With a little planning, your garden can have flower blooms almost all year long. Unlike annuals that bloom consistently over many months, perennials generally have a window of time when they bloom. So, many beginner gardeners find it difficult to create a colorful 4-season garden using just perennials. The biggest struggles I’ve heard are that the garden just looks green, there’s not enough color or things feel too bland.  But, having a low-maintenance perennial border doesn’t have to be this way. There are several ways to increase a flower’s bloom time and frequency.

How to get your flowers to bloom more… and longer

In this post I’ll go over a few ways to create long seasons of bloom with perennials that will come back year to year. With a little planning, you’ll be able to enjoy your perennial garden with very little effort. And it will reward you year after year with beautiful blooms and four seasons of color!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Choose long-blooming perennials

This may seem like common sense, but I find that many beginner gardeners tend to choose plants that are flowering when they visit the garden center without much thought of what that flower or plant looks like the rest of the year. While it’s ok to choose a few beautiful flowers or plants that have a short bloom period, I encourage you to fill your garden with perennials that bloom with color for longer periods of time.

What perennials bloom all season?

Wondering which perennials bloom all season long? A few of my favorites are daylilies, salvias and knockout rose bushes. All three of these plants will bloom throughout the entire summer with little to no effort on your part. You’ll find a lot more of my favorites in my post about perennial plants and flowers for mixed borders.

Deadhead your flowers for more (and longer) blooms

This is a little more maintenance than I care to deal with, but it’s a known fact that deadheading your flowers after they bloom will encourage your perennials to bloom again. Deadheading is very simple. As plants fade out of bloom, pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Repeat with all the dead flowers on the plant. Deadhead early and often. With just a little effort, you’ll be enjoying more blooms and even extended bloom times. A few plants to try deadheading with are shasta daisies, salvia, bleeding hearts, knockout roses and coneflowers.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Fertilize your plants for extended blooms

Fertilizing your perennials so they have proper nutrition is another way to extend the length of bloom time. I wrote a post about soil improvement tips that will help you get started with fertilizing. I have a very simple regiment to replenish my soil each spring and fall. In the spring, I add 1-2” of organic matter to my garden beds. And, in the fall I sprinkle my beds with some bone meal to replace nutrients and get my plants ready for winter. Don’t overdo this – About a tablespoon of bone meal is enough fertilizer for 1×1 sq ft, such as a large planter pot.

What kind of fertilizer makes flowers bloom?

You can also purchase specific fertilizers for your flowers that will help to give them the extra boost of nutrition they need to bloom for longer periods of time. Here are a few of my favorites:

Visit the garden center multiple times a year

Visit a local gardening center in spring and you will find a myriad of perennial plants all in full flower. If you were to purchase a selection of these and plant them at home, chances are you would have lots of flowers for a few weeks or so. But, when summer rolls around your landscape will not have much interest. That’s because for the most part, the showiest, most eye-catching plants in the nursery are for sale during their peak bloom time.

So how can you avoid this? Easy. Visit the garden center multiple times a year (like you need an excuse!). In all seriousness, making multiple visits to the garden center will allow you to see different plants that bloom that time of year. Visiting the garden center in each season will help you to design a garden that has blooming interest in every season!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Plant multiple varieties of your favorite perennials

Did you know that some of your favorite perennials have multiple varieties? It’s true… and these varieties often times will bloom at different times of the year. So, using a mixture of different cultivars of the same plant or flower is a great way to extend the bloom sequence of your favorites over longer period of time. This is an easily overlooked tactic to use in your own garden.

If you’re familiar with alliums, you likely think of them as an easy-to-grow summer bulb. But, there’s actually varieties of alliums that will keep the blooms coming right up to the first frost. Start off the season with Purple sensation alliums (Zones 2-10) that begin blooming with the late daffodils and tulips. For late spring to early summer, plant some Gladiator alliums (Zones 3-8) near the back of your border. They grow on  3-4’ tall stalks with-6-inch-diameter flowers. In the summer, Circle (or curly) onions (Zones 4–9) have blue-green leaves with a corkscrew effect. They are a cool variety to try in Japanese-style gardens,  rock gardens or the front of your mixed border. With just three allium varieties, you can enjoy your favorite flower from early spring to late summer!

Make your flowers bloom more (and longer)

Wrapping Up

Who doesn’t want a garden with flowers that bloom each and every season of the year? There are several things that you can do to make this happen. First, choose really long-blooming perennials like knockout roses, salvia and daylily. Make sure that you give your perennials the proper nutrients by fertilizing. The little bit of extra effort to deadhead your blooms after they die off will also promote longer bloom times for your favorite plants and flowers. Don’t forget to visit your local garden center multiple times a year so that you can ensure you’re buying plants that will bloom in different seasons. Finally, you can choose different varieties of your favorite flowers and plants in order to make it feel like they are blooming for longer periods of time. I love to do this with alliums.

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Get beautiful landscaping on a budget with these tips

Get beautiful landscaping on a budget with these tips

Creating beautiful landscaping on a budget sounds like an impossible task. But, it’s a common question that deserves an answer. Although landscaping can be expensive, there are ways to offset the costs. So, if you have huge landscape dreams but shallow pockets, here are some ways that you can get through this!

The balance between time and money

When trying to landscape on a budget, you need to be aware of the balance between your resources of time/effort vs. money. You can save money by spending more time and effort doing it yourself. Or you can get it done with less time and effort by hiring out the job. It’s all about maintaining the balance between how much time and effort you can spend and how much money you can spend.

Maybe you don’t have a large budget, but you have some money to spend. Are there some landscaping tasks that you really aren’t comfortable or capable of doing on your own that you can outsource? It may be cheaper to hire someone to do those specific tasks than if you hired out the entire project. This is a good way to save some money on your landscaping project without having to sacrifice quality or your precious time.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Prioritize your projects

Now that you understand the balance between time and money, let’s talk priorities. Landscape projects also consist of a balance between beauty and function. When working on a budget,  I recommend that you prioritize your functional needs over your aesthetic desires. You may need to sacrifice some beauty to make your landscaping functional. Before you make it pretty, you have to make it work.

Here are some ways to determine what’s most important on your landscaping to-do list.

beautiful landscaping on a budget
What’s already working in your landscaping? Take those ideas and run with them in other areas… like this beautifully naturalized meadow of daisies.

What parts of your landscaping are already working?

Are there spaces in your landscape that you already really love and enjoy? Consider how you can improve upon areas you already love. With a few slight tweaks, could make these spaces even better? This may be an easy budget-friendly project that will take a minimal amount of effort and money but produce a great result for you.

Also think about ways you can apply what’s already working to other areas of your landscape. You can you take pieces from the areas you love to create more function, beauty and comfort to other areas of your landscape.

If you’re landscaping on a budget, consider using leftover materials from the original project to complete your new project.

What’s definitely not working in your landscape?

Are there areas of your landscape that you really just hate? This is a good place to focus your time, effort and budget as well. To save money, you can consider just blocking the view to this unsightly area until you have more time and money to dedicate to fixing the area. Can you block, hide, cover or camouflage an area instead of actually landscaping it?

Quick Tip: Read my post on how to start landscaping your yard to learn how to get started with your first landscaping project.

Where do you spend the most time?

What are some of your most used spaces? What to do you walk across the most, relax in the most, view the most or experience the most? Prioritize the spaces you use most in your landscaping budget.

For example, consider how you access your front door from the street or your parking area. Is the walkway wide enough?  Do you enjoy walking to your front door? Are there any tripping hazards? Is there proper lighting? Is it clear for guests how they should get to the front door from the parking area?

Your property entry is a great place to start if you are landscaping on a budget. Improving the function and aesthetic appeal of your entry is something you can enjoy every day. It will also improve your curb appeal and increase the value of your home (more on this in the next section).

What landscaping projects will increase the value of your home?

What landscaping projects will give you the biggest return on investment (ROI)? A beautiful, well-kept landscape is the very definition of curb appeal. If you are landscaping on a budget, consider focusing your priorities on the areas that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Notice how the landscape doesn’t just hug the foundation?

Improving your front entry and foundation planting will boost your home value more than any other landscaping project. According to landscape economist John Harris, a beautiful and well-kept landscape can account for 28% of your home’s overall value.

Take the time to create a plan

My printable project planning worksheets will help you stay on budget during your next landscaping project.

So, you’ve decided on a budget. You’ve determined how much time and energy you can dedicate to your project. You’ve even prioritized your list so you know what’s most important. Now, you need to create a plan.

Many times, in an effort to save money, home owners will DIY their landscape project and actually create more issues. Before you fall into this trap, create a plan for your project and take the time to understand how to tackle the project.

Quick Tip: My printable project planning worksheets will help you stay on budget during your next landscaping project.

Pick your plants last

Notice that I didn’t say pick your plants first! Plants are kind of like the icing on the landscaping cake.

  • Start with a good plan (a recipe)
  • Execute the plan (bake)
  • This will create a solid foundation (cake)
  • Once all of this is done, you can ice and decorate (plants)

If you have a crooked cake you may be able to disguise some of the issues with the frosting… but it will probably look kind of crappy. But, if you didn’t follow the recipe or bake it long enough, it won’t taste good. It’s really hard to fix this without starting over. And starting over can cost you not only money… but time and effort.

Yarrow, catmint and salvia complimentary garden color schemes

I believe I’ve made my point! Start with a plan. Execute the plan. Choose your plants (LAST). Working with a plan will ensure that you do the project right the first time. I’m sure this sounds obvious, but it’s really important. Low maintenance and durable designs are more cost-effective and time-effective in the long run. So, invest in the knowledge you need to do the project right the first time. Otherwise, you’ll be spending your time maintaining or money replacing your mistakes.

Quick Tip: Check out my article on Landscape Layering when you’re ready to choose plants.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Start with a small landscaping project

beautiful landscaping on a budget

If you’re landscaping on a budget or are intimidated by starting a large landscaping project, there’s nothing wrong with starting a small project first. Instead of tackling your whole front yard, start with a front porch flag or a mailbox garden. Once you gain more confidence, you can continue to build upon that first small project.

Even when you start small, start with a plan. Dream big at first then break down your big dream into smaller, manageable projects that you can accomplish one at a time. Maybe you can’t afford a $10,000 landscaping project, but could you break that project down into phases that you could work on over the course of four or five years? This brings me to my next tip… working in phases.

Work on your landscaping in budget-friendly phases

When you break your landscaping project into smaller projects, you’ll be able to achieve your landscaping goals at a pace and price you can handle. Start small and only take on what you handle. This is a little bit of a tortoise vs. the hair analogy. Slow and steady CAN win the race.

There is a risk involved with taking on a project in phases: weeds. Make sure that you don’t tear up too much of your landscape at one time. Remember… phases. Cover any areas of bare soil in order to prevent weed growth. There are many options for covering the area. One of the easiest, aesthetically pleasing and budget-friendly options for this is mulch. Use the mulch as a placeholder to prevent weed pressure in your garden until you have time to finish the project.

DIY front yard landscaping ideas on a budget

Using railing boxes is another great small garden idea if you are short on space

Your front yard is the best place to start if you are landscaping on a budget. That’s because curb appeal can increase your home’s value and is the most visible area of your yard. If you’re looking for some DIY landscaping ideas for your front yard, try starting with these budget-friendly projects:

Budget-friendly backyard landscaping ideas

Brick paver walkway ideas

A beautiful backyard doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a little effort and a lot of creativity, you can create a beautiful outdoor space without being house-poor. Here are some budget-friendly backyard landscaping ideas that are cheap, easy and guaranteed to turn heads.

Free materials to fit your landscaping project budget

With a little bit of effort you can find tons of resources and materials that are free or very low cost to help you have a beautiful landscape on a budget. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Wood chip mulch: A lot of local tree services are looking to get rid of their wood chip mulch and may offer it to you at little to no cost. So, I’d recommend contacting a pro in your area. You may see some sticks or dried leaves in this type of mulch, but from a distance you really can’t tell the difference.
  • Compost: Consider making your own compost. This will provide you with a great fertilizer for your garden beds and it’s also great for the environment. If you don’t want to get into composting, there are many local areas that give away or sell compost at a very low cost. So, check your local township or city resources to find out if this is available.
  • Leaf mulch: You can also collect leaves and use those as mulch. People bag them for you and put them on the curb. If you want to save money and aren’t easily embarrassed, just go around the neighborhood and pick up the leafs. Run them over with your lawn mower a few times and you’ll have beautiful leaf mulch. This will also add nutrients back into your soil and help your plants to grow up happy and healthy.
  • Education: If you invest in learning about landscaping and gardening, you’ll gain more knowledge and confidence. You’ll also be able to tackle more projects without the help of a professional. Explore your curiosity by taking courses, listening to podcasts and reading blogs, books and magazines. This is a fun and rewarding way to invest in yourself and also save money in the long term.

Wrapping Up

I hope you’ve found this budget-friendly landscaping tips and ideas helpful. Remember that in order to save money you may need to invest more time into your landscaping project. So, dedicate the budget that you do have to things that are really labor-intensive or you don’t have the skills to complete yourself. Once you understand this balance, you can set priorities for which projects will be the most important to you. There are many factors you can use to determine priority, like where you spend the most time, what will increase your home’s value or general likes and dislikes about certain areas of your landscape.

When you’re on a budget it’s important that you create a plan and stick to it. While you can dream big in your plan, try to chunk this down into small and manageable projects. Also look for ways to break down the project into phases so that you can space out the amount of work you have to do and also give yourself more time to save money for it. In addition, you can save a lot of money by simplifying your planting scheme and choosing plants that will naturally grow and fill up larger spaces. You can also use free or low-cost resources in your project…. Such as leaf mulch, wood chip mulch, compost, blogs, podcasts and even friends to help you with the work!

Are you a budget-savvy landscaper? I’d love to hear about some landscaping projects that you proudly completed on a budget. Comment below with the details or any more budget-friendly landscaping tips.

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beautiful landscaping on a budget
Creating Seasonal Flower and Plant Groupings

Creating Seasonal Flower and Plant Groupings

When designing a four-season landscape, seasonal flower and plant groupings are a topic that always comes up. It can be confusing to understand the terms. When I was a beginner gardener, I always thought that seasonal flowers bloomed all year round– in every season– all the time.

But… I never actually found that perfect flower or plant that just magically bloomed all year round. Especially in Northeast PA where temperatures range from 90ºF in summer to -10ºF in winter.

I know… it was wishful thinking at best. But, as I got a little more experienced with my gardening I was able to understand what seasonal flowers and plant groupings actually were and what flowers and plants were best to use in different areas of my garden.

Want to learn more about this? Keep reading to pick my brain about this really interesting and fun garden design concept!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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What is a Seasonal Flower or Plant?

A seasonal flower or plant is one that is currently blooming or ‘in season.’ Many also refer to seasonal flowers and plants as ones that have exceptionally long bloom times. Meaning, they are blooming in multiple seasons. These are great flowers and plants to add to your four-season landscape. This is because you are getting a big “bang for your buck” as far as the interest the flower or plant provides for the amount of space it’s taking up in your garden.

Salvia, Lavendar and mexican wheat grass make great seasonal flowers and plant groupings
A seasonal plant grouping of Mexican feather grass, salvia and sage in this design by Thomas Rainer. Source

What Are Seasonal Flower & Plant Groups?

So what exactly are seasonal plantings or seasonal groupings? In a four-season landscape, the goal is to group plants that bloom at similar times or sequentially (one after another).

The goal is to try to make each area of your landscape bloom for as long as possible.

ebook mockup pdf download

The first thing you’ll need to know to create sequential blooming in your own garden is when each plant blooms. This can be a very tricky thing to figure out, so I created a really fun guide that will give you some examples of plant pairings that will get you started with your plant groupings.

By creating different interest groups in different areas, your gardens will change and give you a different look and feel as different plants begin to bloom.  This is what I absolutely love about seasonal groupings (and gardening, in general).

You have the ability to change the entire look, color scheme and focal point of your garden throughout the seasons like a conductor. It’s really fun and addicting once you get the hang of it!

If you’re feeling a bit discouraged because this seems complicated, please don’t! A four-season landscape does NOT mean that each area of your landscape needs to be in bloom every single season, all the time!

There will be peaks and lulls to each seasonal grouping. And that’s ok.

It’s actually a good thing because it will allow you to shift the focal points in your garden from one area to another at different times of the year!

Quick tip: To learn more about creating a four-season landscape, check out my post on landscape layering. I also have a post about arranging plants in your landscape that should help you with creating these groupings.

Sequential Blooming

Designing your landscape so that multiple plants near each other bloom at the same time is such a wonderful accomplishment. I think most gardeners strive to find and implement these magical combinations. I know I do!

With that said, I still want each garden room in my landscape to bloom for as long as possible, too. The way you can do this is through sequential blooming… or bloom sequencing.

Creating a bloom sequence means that you select multiple plant varieties (usually of the same plant) that will bloom one after the other (sequentially) in your garden. Once one plant variety fades, the next variety will take over.

Spring Plant Grouping Example

Let’s put this into practice by creating a spring plant grouping for a part-shade area.

The Cornus Florida dogwood tree blooms for about three weeks in May. Just as the white or pink flowers give way to the tree’s foliage, the Kousa dogwood blooms for the entire month of June.

By adding both of these dogwood trees to your seasonal grouping, you’ll basically double the bloom period. This is called sequential blooming. Pretty cool, right?

But it doesn’t have to stop there. You can also plant other shrubs and flowers near the dogwood trees to add more interest to your vignette.

For example, many azaleas and small-leaved rhododendrons bloom at the same time as the dogwoods and would be very complimentary.

You could also add some early-blooming perennials like bleeding hearts, violets and blue bells (one of my favorites for shade) to round out your spring plant grouping.

When you begin to combine your plant groupings with sequential blooming is when the magic starts to happen!

This is a great option for spring, but don’t forget to complete the plant grouping by adding summer and fall bloomers as well as plants for winter interest.

Again, my Design Your 4-Season Garden Course gives you a step-by-step roadmap for making this happen.

Sequential Bloom Sequence – 1 Plant Example

Another example extends the bloom time of just one single flower: alliums. I like to call this bloom sequencing but I’m not sure if there’s an official term for it.

Did you know that there are all different varieties of alliums and if you do your research you can actually plant them so that they will sequentially bloom in your garden? I absolutely love alliums and the idea that I can enjoy them for longer is music to my gardening ears.

4 Large Allium round purple flowers along a fence
Allium ‘Beau Regard’ is just one of many allium varieties that can be planted in succession for an entire year of blooms! Photo by Pretty Purple Door.
  • In early spring, allium varieties such as purple sensation, giant online, Turkestan onion, tumbleweed and golden onion will get you started.
  • In late spring, check out gladiator and white giant.
  • Summer varieties include nodding onion, blue globe onion, stars of Persia, black onion, drumstick, hair and circle onion.
  • In the fall, you can end the season with ‘Glaucum’ and ‘Ozawa’ varieties.

Planting one or two alliums from each of these categories will extend your allium bloom time from just two weeks to several months!

Here are some handy charts with other varieties to try.

I told you there were a lot of alliums!

How To Create Your Own Seasonal Plant Groupings

So, how do you figure this out on your own? The answer is plant research! There are many online databases to research plants online. Even a lot of the online nurseries have search features that will help you to find plants and flowers that bloom during particular times of the year.

My garden planning worksheets are a great printable resource for conducting plant research. You fill in the name of your plant and you can visually mark off the times that it blooms. That way you can see where you may have bloom gaps in your garden and find plants that will fill those gaps.

As I mentioned earlier, I also have an online course that will teach you how to create a 4-season garden bed. It walks you through this whole process step-by-step and we use the garden planning worksheets along the way.

So, if you’re dreaming of a beautiful landscape but are having a lot of trouble understanding these seasonal groupings and bloom sequencing, my online course may be the answer you’re looking for.

Long-Blooming Flowers to Try at Home

When creating a four-season landscape, most beginner gardeners are looking for the “magic bullet” flower or plant that will bloom in all four seasons. Wishful thinking. Unfortunately there is no flower (that I’m aware of) that actually blooms constantly, although there are ways to make flowers bloom more (and longer).

But don’t worry, there are plenty of perennial plants and flowers that do have beautiful and interesting features in each and every season. So, while you won’t be able to find one single flower or plant that will accomplish this for you, with a little planning you’ll be able to create a garden that has something in bloom each and every season! Preferably, lots of things!

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Flowers Bloom For a Long Time

While I can’t tell you about this secret magic bullet flower, here are some that come pretty close. These flowers, in my experience have exceptionally long bloom times. You can click on the links to purchase these online, if you’d like.

  • Asters – summer through early fall
  • Astilbe – can use multiple varieties for blooms from late spring through fall(great for shade)
  • Black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia) – summer through early fall
  • Blanket flower (Gaillardia) – late spring through fall
  • Catmint (Nepeta) – late spring through summer
  • Coneflowers (Echinacea) – summer through early fall
  • Clematis vines – late spring through early fall, depending on the variety.
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis) – summer through early fall
  • Lavender (Lavandula) – summer through early fall
  • Salvia – mid spring through summer
  • Sedum – mid-summer through fall

Wrapping Up

When creating seasonal groupings in your landscape, you should pick plants, flowers, shrubs and trees that blooms at the same time of year and plant them in the same area. I call these areas garden rooms.

In addition to planting what blooms at the same time, you should also look for ways to extend the bloom period of your seasonal groupings. This can be accomplished by sequential blooming. Or, in other words, choosing plants and flowers that bloom right after another in the seasonal grouping. This keeps your garden room full of color and interest for a longer amount of time.

Remember that you don’t have to make every area of your landscape bloom in every single season. By creating these seasonal groups, you can bounce the interest around your landscape and change the focal point and even the color scheme as the seasons change. It’s a really fun way to make your landscape unique and ever-changing from week to week, month to month and season to season.

If you need a step-by-step process and some help with designing your 4-season dream garden, check out my online course. It’s also a great course for anyone who is interested in garden design as a career and is looking to get started in the industry.

creating seasonal flower and plant groupings

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Incorporating focal points into your landscape

Incorporating focal points into your landscape

In landscaping, focal points are plants or objects that stand out from the background. Place focal points within the landscape in a way that will draw attention to a particular area of the garden. The purpose of focal points in a landscape are many. Focal points do several things in a landscape. First, they create create a resting spot in your garden. Focal points are a great way to guide a person to a destination. They are an important tool for garden designers. Why? Because they are a way to control how people will view the garden. When used correctly, focal points will create a special moment (or moments) in your garden.

It’s important to note that focal points do not exist in a vacuum. Focal points are always viewed WITH the other plants and elements in your landscape. So, while they are the element that stands out and guides the eye, they also have to fit with the overall aesthetic of the landscape they are placed into.

Quick Tip: If you’re new to landscaping, check out my tips for beginner gardeners before tackling focal points!

What does a focal point do?

Focal points are a great way to clarify a space and add a unique element of surprise or wonder to your landscape. Placing focal points in your landscape give the viewer’s eyes a place to focus and rest upon. If your focal point is interesting, it will also help to guide the viewer further into your landscape.

Typically, focal points stand out from the other elements around it – either in color, shape, texture, form, etc. Although they “stand out,” focal points can actually create restful moments within a landscape and help to guide a person’s eye from one area to another. Even if your garden is absolutely beautiful, without a focal point it’s really difficult for ANYTHING to stand out and grab attention. Everything just blends together and looks the same.

metal sculpture serves as focal point in traditional graden

This post is just an overview of what focal points are. If you want to learn even more about focal points, you can purchase my Garden Focal Points eBook.

In the eBook, you’ll learn how to harness the power of focal points to create interest in impact in your home landscape. I’ll show you how to introduce that wow-factor into your yard with eye-catching and purposeful focal points.

You’ll learn all about focal points, why they’re important and how you can use them to create a landscape that’s uniquely you!  

Cover Photo:  Falconhurst Open Garden Kent by Mark (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Where should I place focal points?

Place focal points anywhere in the landscape that you want to draw attention or create a moment for the viewer to slow down. Here are some common locations for placing focal points:

  • At the entrance of your garden or property
  • At the end of your property or the end of a path
  • Where there is a change in direction
  • Where two points intersect
  • In the center of an open lawn

Tips for placing focal points in your landscape

  • The front door of your house is the most obvious place to start
  • Test first. Place all the focus objects in their assigned locations and then walk away for an hour before deciding.
  • Less is more. Avoid the temptation to overuse and crowd an area with objects.
  • Use focal points to dress up or emphasize architectural detail unique to your home.
  • Focal points should be a reflection of your unique personality so have fun and be creative!

What Blooms with What?

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What objects can I use to create a focal point?

Focal points don’t have to be expensive or grand. Here are a few focal point ideas that involve seating.

Now that you know what a focal point is and also where to place them, you may be wondering what object you can actually use for your focal point. The good news is that your focus “object” can be just about anything! You can use a stand-out plant or plant grouping. You can also place a planter or a container as your focal point. Some other ideas are a statue, a trellis, a piece of artwork, a fountain, a pond or even a bench or seating area. The possibilities are endless.

Examples of landscape focal points

Pictured above are a few focal point ideas (clockwise, from top left): an arbor, a water feature, a structural plant, a sculpture, a planter with flowers, a colorful wall/fence, a tree or tree grouping.

Can you have multiple focal points in the same garden?

Yes you can absolutely have multiple focal points in your garden. You don’t always need a large focal point. Little garden moments are just as fun and memorable.

If you’re a beginner gardener, I do recommend that you start with one major focal point.

In the backyard, place a focal point near the end of the garden– at the destination where you want your visitors to travel to.

In the front yard, place a focal point right at the entrance to your home (the front door). After you’ve successfully positioned your main focal point you can begin to place little mini focal points that guide a person to the “main” focal point.

Wrapping up

Focal points draw the eye to a particular area of your landscape. It will create focus in a mushed-together garden. You can place focal points at entryways, at the end of paths, or anywhere that there’s a change of direction or an intersection. You can also place focal points in the center of an open space.

Remember that you can have smaller vignettes or focal points in your garden – these little garden moments can add personality and whimsy to your garden. Remember to test out the location of your focal points first and also resist the temptation to add too much. Less is more!

If you want to learn even more about focal points, you can purchase my Garden Focal Points eBook.

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incorporating focal points in your landscape