Most people either love or hate monochromatic gardens. If you are like me, you love them and find them to be very soothing and beautiful. They might not be loud and exciting like gardens with a multitude of colors but they blend seamlessly and allow the viewer to enjoy the entire scene not just individual flowers. Monochromatic gardens take a little more planning but the benefits are well worth it. When your backyard landscaping is complete, the gardens, patio, walkways and other features will be transformed into a wonderful outdoor living space.
Color Selection – First you need to choose a color for your monochromatic garden.
Plant Selection – If you choose pink as your color then you want to choose plants with flowers ranging in color from white and pale pink through deep magenta or burgundy. Include as much color variety as possible within your color family.
Make a list of plants you would like to use and create a plant list on Excel (download plant list sample). This plant list will make it easy for you to see if you are missing certain colors or sizes. The sample list is currently sorted by plant name but you can resort it by any plant characteristic to see if you need to revise your plant selection. Frequently you will see you have too many plants of a certain height or color and not enough of others. This tool is essential to help you design a successful garden.
Make sure you include shrubs in your design as they provide the year round structure for the garden. Try to include both evergreen and deciduous shrubs, although you may not be able to find all flower colors for evergreen shrubs.
Perennials come in a large variety of colors. Think about more than just flower color. Berries, seed pods and fall foliage all contribute to the monochromatic garden.
Annuals are important in any garden as they provide color all summer long. If you find it difficult to find flowering shrubs and perennials in your color (ie. Blue), then fill in with blue annuals to make up the difference.
Garden Layout – Once your plant list is finalized, use graph paper and plot out the garden to scale. Re-sort your plant list by plant height and print it out. Using your plant list, begin plugging in plants, according to height, where you would like them in the garden. Make sure you keep lower plants in the front and taller plants in the back so all plants are visible.
Make sure you space out the shrubs and annuals throughout the garden for a balanced look. I always use shrubs in groups of 3 or 5 as they make more of a statement when blooming. Annuals should be spaced out between shrubs and perennials so they provide all summer color throughout the garden. You want to make sure all your annuals aren’t grouped close together leaving none in other areas of the garden. Balance is the key to a good design.
Flower color is another important characteristic to keep balanced. Try re-sorting the plant list by flower color and make sure you balance the colors throughout the garden.
Planting Plan – Making a planting plan is your last step. Using your scaled garden layout, make ovals or organic shapes to represent the plants you selected. Place the plant name, and height in the area where you want it planted. If you want to you can shade the areas with the flower color so you can see the colors throughout the garden.
To figure out how many perennials or annuals you need for the allocated space in the garden, simply take the plant width and make a circle that size and see how many circles will fit in your space. Keep in mind that perennials will take 1-3 years to reach their mature size, shrubs a little longer.