Designing in color

Dudley Wooten - PDT Outdoor Columnist

When I design a landscaping plan I see it in terms of aesthetics and function. I want it to serve a purpose of shape, privacy, enhancing a structure etc. That will determine the choice of trees, their location, and their size, both now and at maturity. I then try to design in color. It’s the colorful hues of the spectrum that make the landscape “jump” or go from “git-‘er-done” to “get-‘er done right.”

In order to be “right,” in my thinking, it will have a backdrop of green to “naturalize” or maybe be evergreen. It’s good to have a backdrop that’s always there. In the foreground, the “shakers and movers” do their thing. They would be the reds, golds, white, and blues that creates the “curb appeal” and they would most likely be the enhancement of the green in several seasons. That may be with bloom, leaf, or fall color.

When I present a plan it will be in color. This is the way I think and it’s the very basis of why I chose these plants, their arrangement, and their size. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and it’s worked well for all parties. This way, the client see it why, where, and as I’m seeing it. Life is good.

I’ve read several books lately that, I believe, enlightened me as to why I think the way I do. They also took me deeper into this “color” thing than I’ve thought before.

“An image reflected in a mirror, A rainbow in the sky, And a painted scene make their impressions upon the mind, but in essence are other than what they seem.

Look deeply at the world and see an illusion, a magician’s dream.”

The Seventh Dalai Lama

“Song of the Immaculate Path”

“What did I learn at art school? I learned that art is painting, not painted.” –


For those who design, the dirty job of mixing and grinding materials is far too time consuming and becomes an obstacle in creation. I use a wide array of colored pencils. My intention is to introduce to a realistic landscape, not to imitate nature. The plan is to give us pleasure and be our most direct approach to use nature to enhance your site. Every box of colored pencils had numerous hidden stories to tell. It’s my job to fit you with your story. This comes from many questions and answers prior to opening the box.

“As you said, you began with drawing.” – Cennino Cennini

“Give me some mud off a city crossing, some ocre out of a gravel pit, a little whitening, and some coal dust and I will paint you a luminous picture, if you give me time to graduate my mud and subdue my dust,” – John Ruskin

If you put all this in a 5 gallon bucket, stir it, and throw it at paper, you come up with a plan.

Dudley Wooten

PDT Outdoor Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.