It comes down to color

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist



When we’re talking landscaping, it’s just a matter of time it comes down to color. I’ve never been a proponent of “all green.” Green and evergreen are both great factors in the landscape but there’s oh so much more.

Do you remember when so many landscapes were all about form? They were all green and sheared in all these shapes of round, square, conical, etc. Talk about high maintenance – that would have been it. Of course, that landscape would have been classified “formal” and maybe they kept their “gardener” busy pruning it. In case you don’t have servants, maybe you should go with something a little more “informal.”

In today’s landscape people are looking to find interest in form, texture, color, etc. because they’re not interested in pruning it every 15 minutes. This is where the form is more “free-form,” the texture may be evergreen needle leaf, broadleaf evergreen, deciduous leaf, or grasses. They want to see upright, round, and weeping tress.

When we inject color into the landscape it should be useful in several seasons. Color appreciation is very subjective. The colors you chose to use in the planting will be affected not only by your own likes but also by the location, style, mood, and use of the garden site as well.

That’s a lot to consider and pleasing all these color needs could be a tough job. The truth is, we can over engineer the volume on color. If you try to please all the thinking on color you can end up gaudy. My best advice is pick the colors you like and arrange them in a way that they enhance each other and the site.

If you worry about how “hot” the reds are and how “cool” the blues or greens are, you may overlook the fact that the yellow is “undemanding.” Now, isn’t that just a little more then we need to concern ourselves with? What kind of yuppie preppy talk us that?

When we select color, let’s simplify. If you want red in the trees – position them. If you want gold or red in the background – position them. They’re larger. Whatever other seasonal color you want plug that in. Now, if you want to have it look like a landscape in the winter months add about 50% evergreen.

The evergreen can be green, blue, or gold and it can be needleleaf or broadleaf. Keep this in mind:

A) Bloom color is worth 1 -2 weeks.

B) Fall color is worth 1 -2 weeks

C) Deciduous tree and shrub leaf color is worth 8 -9 months

D) Evergreen color is year – around

You decide where you want to spend your money. As we go through the plant selection on site, I’ll be prioritizing the plant selection based on the aforementioned (4) thoughts.

This means I’m going to position trees, then the focal point color, then the various colors of evergreen as the common denominator to “breakup” and enhance the colors.

When you get down to this color thing, it’s all about how you perceive it. You all know about pigments and how the eye only picks up the wave lengths reflected back to it. That’s all well and good but the real questions are what do you like and how can we make it fit?

A few examples of older red trees on the market would be:

Crimson King maple, Bloodgood Japanese, Rivers beech, Copper beech, and Royalty crabapple.

More recent red trees would be:

Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud

Merlot Red Redbud

Royal Frost Birch

Cardinal Flowering Crabapple

The old red barberry and sand cherry shrubs have given way to the various red leaf ninebark.

Nobody wants gold privet or bigger gold juniper but they do want gold charm false cypress and magic carpet spirea.

When you throw in lavender and coral bells, you begin to cover the spectrum. Add a few boulders and grasses and it’s “naturalized” and anything but formal or high maintenance.

This is the way you think outside the box. You start with some basic shapes, functions, and focal points and add color. Then, you’ve gone from ordinary to extraordinary. It helps to use the newer plant names on the market because they probably have more color assets and fewer maintenance deficits.

When trying to include all the color possibilities in one of these articles – it’s really not possible so we just mention a few. The choices outnumber the rainbows and color wheels so we’ll just let it go at that and hope this simplifies “landscaping -4 -U.”


By Dudley Wooten

PDT 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.