Matching the garden flowers to the house color

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

pfg's thread about combinations got me musing about house color (also my house is being painted today). I have an ordinary suburban lot, so gardens are dominated by the house.

I have found I need to coordinate plantings near my house with the house color. When I first started gardening I lived in a light grey house with white trim. Pink flowers looked great against it. Then I lived in a dark rusty brown house. Pink looked terrible, and so did white, so I began using warm colors. Light greyed or pastelly tones seemed washed out, so I ended up with strong warm colors. Now I live in a warm yellowy-tan house, with orangey-red door and green-brown railings. Warm tones look good here too, but they do not have to be so strong. White is not great. I have one garden area that I see from inside the house, that is never really viewed while in the yard looking toward the house. Here I have put pink, white and cooler colors.

Have you found yourself coordinating like this also?

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Actually, mlm, I kind of went at it the other way 'round. I thought I wanted a green house, but I noticed that almost no green paint mixes well with real green vegetation. As I toodled around town I became aware that both vegetation and blooms look best against a lighter shade of blue.

So, thinking about the same thing, really, but looking at a different part to change. (When I got my house 3years ago it looked awful on the outside, and we're still working on the re-siding (ourselves).)

So, to answer straightforwardly, yes, I think about the house color in my combinations in the garden.

How hot are you getting up there? We got to at least 103 F today.

Richmond, TX(Zone 9a)

Mlm, I'm all about color and the color of house is ever present on my mind. I hv brick painted the color of chocolate milk and flowers closest to house look best when pink, all tones. Having said that, Mother Nature doesn't necessarily coordinate, and there isn't a "natural " combo I haven't loved. In short, anything goes but personal pref. is to plan my colors.

Neighbor across me has red brick house and entire landscape is white flowers with green and green/white shrubs . The most elegant thing I've ever seen. They hv a limited landscape budget and yet their house looks spectacular every season.

Turtles I SO agree with you that no green paint goes with natural greenery, why is that? And I love green. Just about the only thing you can do is paint accents. (Shutters, trim, door) a green that is so dark it looks black from a distance. Conversely, you can paint door a chartreuse green and that will also look good and not in competition with greenery.

I could talk about gardening by color all day long

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Yesterday to 98 degrees here, so painting could not happen for much of the day.

I kind of wanted a green or blue house myself. I got tired of recent local trends for all new houses to be grey, or beige, or beigey-grey, or grey-y beige. When I moved in here years ago the house needed painting, and I disliked the color. I kept buying small cans of different colors and trying it out on the siding. I quickly found out the warm orangey-red brown roof dictated a warm color paint. I could not find a green or blue that I liked with the roof.
I am going to keep an eye out for green houses that coordinate well with plantings. There must be some.
turtles-have you picked a blue paint?

Richmond, TX(Zone 9a)

completely agree about grey, taupe, tan, and mixtures thereof now being overused. But painting a house is expensive so it's not like painting interiors that can be done on a whim. Not only that, but my outside furniture has been purchased to match the overused tan, etc. and can't just discard it. That's just the downside of trends, eventually they become tired and overused no matter how pretty. What you do with it determines if you are trendy or dated. An individual choice.

As to the green, it's not that it clashes, it's simply that either the house disappears or the landscape disappears from all the green. That is unless it is a super dark or super light shade.

I knew a lady that painted her house the most wonderful shade of green, you couldn't call it grey and you couldn't call it green--it was the most tasteful blend of the two. That color did not undermine her landscaping. I remember she was so thoroughly pissed the day a nearby neighbor painted her house in the same color, lol, oh how aggravated she was about it. Imitation being the most obvious form of flattery--she wasn't buying it.

This message was edited Aug 12, 2014 12:55 PM

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Khaki, beige, light brown, taupe... Yuck.

I do think the grayish greens do well, or brownish greens, come to think of it, but those colors look depressed to me. The other greens for me do diminish the vegetation.

Would you know what I mean if I distinguished between a happy blue and a sophisticated blue?
I like the sophisticated one, but I think the other will do a better job with my garden (to be) and all the beige homes around me. I'm going with one about halfway between light blue and medium blue, maybe a little lighter.

Oh vossner, I can so understand your grey-green lady! I too would be so pissed, poor thing.

Oh, mlm, I also think a clear yellow does well. Clear - no brown or red or anything tones. I might have ended up going with that except there are two houses across from me that color. I'm glad they're there. That's when I started scooting around town looking for what looked best. I want my front garden, whenever it manifests, to show up!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Our house is a light tan color. The siding was new when we bought the house. Now we're going to need a new roof in a few years and I think that's where I'll get as creative as my wife will allow with the color. I like the house to be a neutral color though so it doesn't detract from the plants. Think of it this way; when you use a highlighter, it's over a white page. A highlighter wouldn't be as bright if it was a colored page...My garden brings the interest, not the color of the house. Just my two cents..

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree, but still I never could find a color that really seemed neutral to me. My house is a yellowy-tan, and next door is a mauvey-tan. Mine is warm and theirs is cool color, so theirs looks great with pink flowers and wine or purple foliage by the house, those colors not so great with mine. My orange and buttery yellow flowers look "off' against their house. Roof color is further away from the flowers, so seems less "in your face', but then it needs to coordinate with the house color. Have you found your more neutral tan looks equally good with warm and cool color flowers?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I'm not 100% sure that I noticed. We have white stucco on the front that does tend to wash out a lighter pink, orange, or yellow. Immediately around the house though, we have mostly foliage plants that don't bloom but for a short period of time. There are two Sekkan Sugi Cryptomerias on either corner of the front side of the house and they look fairly outstanding against the tan.

Stroudsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

My house has grey siding with blue shutters and seems to be fine with all colors of flowers and
foliage. Good thing because I never have it a thought when I was doing the landscaping! I did design the landscaping for a horse boarding barn and I was very concerned about the colors of the flowers and foliage. The barn was brick red. I tried to stick with yellow and white. It actually was pretty. I think the color of the house can greatly influence the landscaping -or at least it should.

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Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

very nice, rteets!
The brick with green and white sounds great too.
This area has lots of fifties red brick Cape Cods, with fifties de rigeur pink evergreen azaleas....

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi all. My house is redwood color with taupe trim, but I do plant white-blooming sections because i think they brighten things up and they aren't up against the house either.

Near the house I like hollies with red berries, cotoneaster (also red-organge berries) a groupings that include a diablo ninebark and a tan peeling Chinese birch backed by the Japanese Thunderhead pine which tolerates partial shade very well. To continue the reddish tones, near the walk is a crimson queen JM surrounded by dwarf conifers and small leafed rhodis with a red cast to their leaves and flowers (lots of Mary fleming and Poujoli's daughter rhodis (spelling looks wrong)). There were two pairs of natural looking boxwoods, but Vardar Valley croaked last year. It will be replaced with some dwarf ilex glabras when the male and female pair gets a little larger. Close to the road, I think a riot of color looks fine, so there is a whole section of white and yellow with early summer bloom times, and the striking rose mauve of the Girls series magnolia. The front section is getting new additions of deciduous shrubs with red fall color this year. You see the neighbors houses near our front so I think of it as a transtion to the more neutral grey and tan tones they are. The presence of lots of greenery seems to ground the white and bright colors. The front of our house has a significant number of different conifers already. Some grass selections are intended in the future. The only truly unifying principle is that there are no yellow conifers in the front yard and there are splashes of red plants that are placed into different visual zones.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I chose red for my former home, and found that blue, purple, red, white, pink and fuchsia worked well. I learned this because they were my favorite colors. And I had always wanted a red house. Then I started noticing what colors struck me as being difficult.

Oddly enough, a white house is tough to landscape. I knew someone who had one and incredibly elaborate plans led to dullness. I have a client with a white house and we are struggling with it. You would think that it was a palette that would be easy to work against, but no.

Dark green is tough!

I had a neighbor with a dark gray house. It really set off my red. And with a darker gray you can use red and blue - red really pops.

And oddly enough, red works against red. But what I was really into was texture. And I planted with fall in mind.

Voss baby, I love you. They asked me, for design reasons, to build a red house, and I practically screamed yes. Childhood fantasies of living in a barn. If I build another house, it will be red with white trim and a gray gable, just like my old house.

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Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks for resurrecting this thread, it's a topic I still think about, and clearly you all have too. Winter is a good time for this kind of deep thinking. I wish you were my neighbors!
Rosemary-It all sounds really well thought out. One question-does the Ninebark disappear against the house, or is it so dark it shows up?
Donna- Barns. Me too. And you are right about the red flowers.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

I have to use color bowls for color as the deer eat all my flowers! I do have bulbs blooming in spring, though briefly. Sometimes they lean up to to side of the house to eat the color bowls as well.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Pistil, the ninebark is about fifteen feet away from the house of similar color, enough distance so it does not blend in too much and perhaps I kid myself but I think it expands the feeling of space in spite of my yard getting smaller in a V shape in the front yard. It is part of a trio also including a chinese birch with peeling bark, and a Thunderhead pine. To brighten up the patch I grow dwarf aruncus and Crimson Pirate daylilies also. I think I was trying to achieve something I read about in the William Frederick Jr. book the Exuberant Garden and the Controlling Hand.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Donna your picture of red blooms with the red house sure make your point. I'd never have thunk it.

I so want to paint my house light orange, but I don't think it would make any part of the nascent garden look good. Unless maybe I tried orange blooms, crocosmia with my daylillies?

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Turtles, to my eye, light orange is almost a neutral color, but I confess I like painterly colors like Monet's garden. Perhaps a lot of blue blossoms and bluish conifers would create great contrast. Also moving a step over on the color wheel to yellow seems OK as long as there's some white and other bright colors to keep it fresh. But if something doesn't please, there's no big loss in trying it because you must have friends who'd take the unwanted plants off your hands :)

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I am thinking about your idea of an orange house. Nestled into an area of PNW tall dark conifers, it might be a nice bright spot, and even kind of a show piece. But, I have found that even just a bit of orange in my yard, with some flowers on shrubs or orange tulips, it goes a long way. A whole house of it might be overwhelming, and then the orange blooms might not show up.
Perhaps a soft yellow? Also cheerful and bright, but then Orange and red would be a true accent.
I recall something my house painter said when I was struggling to choose a house color " a little pigment goes a long way when there is a whole house of it". He was so right. I spent some time and $ buying quarts of different colors and painting just a patch of the house (say 6x8 feet). Then I could walk out in the street and think about it. Colors that looked great on a paint chip were way too intense on the house. Also it was then that I discovered how the roof and trim is so important to match too. Also just a bit of thought as to the other houses in the neighborhood, and if it would be too different.
The orange I have I think shows up particularly well against the trim color on my house/porch, which is a greenish brown. These are not very good photos, but show the idea. The last one is when the orange shrub in the pot was new and small, but was my only photo showing the azalea over by the porch too.
I was reminded of an attractive building I saw in a newspaper article-it's the third photo in this article linked. Notice how just a tiny bit of soft orange paint plus the orange lampshade globes are just enough to make the spot an "orange" showpiece. Partly it works due to the soft yellowy buildings around it, which tone it down. Just think how pretty orange flowered shrubs in pots would be, out front.

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Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I agree that roof and trim are incredibly important. We kept the pallet to red, white and gray. I really like the three colors. Amazingly, they were going to paint the cedar in the front, as they did with other houses of our style, and we stopped them. The cedar was beautiful. It gave the house a certain quirkiness. Also, note that we let the bayberries in the front grow REALLY tall, so we could have privacy on our front porch. Of course, I'm sure you can see that I am fond of quirkiness. There were no red houses in our community for YEARS!

We got a lot of really good advice about where things should be located. We were advised to put out fireplace on the south side of the house. It gave it fantastic balance. We were advised to put the garage on the other side. We were very, very lucky. This was our first house. What did we really know?

And then our hardscapers told us that when you are choosing brick, look at the roof of your house. It wasn't intuitive. The first guys showed us brick with orange in it, which would not have worked. And there was another house with pink hardscaping. There was a lot of gray on the roof, so we went with a grayish color. It seems obvious now, but wow it wasn't then.

We got a lot of wonderful design help and advice. It was awesome.

And in case you can't tell, we were big on privacy. It was the kind of "community" where people though it was OK to just walk into your yard. Our neighbors across the way, who always had their shades up and their lights on (you could see into every room of their house) complained to me that the lilacs kept them from seeing into our house.

And the neighbors in the gray house in the last picture had no window coverings for three years, despite quite a bit of wealth. They would sit in their dining room and stare at us (gee, I guess my neighbors sound pretty crazy). As you can see, I'm a big believer in planting privacy. It takes some time, but it's a lot cheaper than a fence. And our community would not let you build higher than three feet (dogs were always escaping) and it had to be white cedar (for maximum maintenance time and cost) and really, lack of privacy.

One thing I found is when a community decides that it "stands for something" you can get some real crazies. It was supposed to be a "community", so I found that people in unhappy marriages and who had trouble forming friendships thought that moving there (Prairie Crossing in Grayslake) would solve their problems. So they would push themselves on you. Happily my love for gardening (hey, I grew up in condos and had no idea I was obsessed) gave us a buffer for years.

I'm doing a variation on this now with climbing roses and tall grasses and BIG viburnums. I'm doing it myself with a very different lot so it will never be as cool as I personally thought this was.

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I really like the look of the grey gables and how they unify the roof line and keep the red from being overpowering. It's almost a natural red, just with a little extra punch. Great job, Donna! And I think your pic also demonstrates that pink blossoms are not out of place when they are well grounded with white and green around them.

I come from the land where the early settlers actually painted their houses in yellow ochre that was mined from the sand pits in town. Those revolutionary day houses were in fact mostly of the native paint color. Nowadays only the history buffs paint this color in their house interiors. I say that because where we are does matter with paint colors. Even the light of the sun shines differently in different regions, and with different regional weather. If you look at a painting by Thomas Eakins you might recognize that it absolutely had to have been painted in New England.

I agree that practicing with samples on the same type of wood as the house is important to get the shade right. I am imagining the selection to be a very light, but almost buff-colored yellowish orange so as not to be overpowering. I particularly love natural wood tones or a color that mimics one. The trim color will really matter because it says what color tones you want the eye to notice. Maybe even two colors of trim are needed so there's a very tiny accent in a more daring opposite color such as evergreen, but grounded by lots of white. I also believe in modifying over time if the result seems too tame. It is easier to add a color than it is to remove one that is too dark or bright.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

You can actually thank Bluestone for the pink! I ordered salvia Rose Queen and they sent saponaria bouncing bett in pink. All three of them. I thought they looked odd, but by the time they bloomed and I realized what they were I decided I liked them. Great scent!

So, to better blend them in, I put in my first red lilies.

And added cynoglossum in blue. It became one of my favorite cool blends, but after the first year saponaria needs to be divided on a regular basis!

Ick, typos!

This message was edited Mar 1, 2015 7:07 AM

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Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

I like the originality of that garden statement. It's not copied from anyone one, but a combination that grew.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Coming from someone I consider a mentor, that is so nice to hear!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Oh,no. Not me. I just talk big! By the way you have got me thinking again about putting in some Canadian red lilies. Probably next year and in the back yard.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

There is a house in my neighborhood where I believe the owner has house color in mind. A very difficult feat to pull of in this zone, uses a combination of northern and southern zone plants to pull off a spectacular spring display. He has to start the northern zone plants in November to time the blooms with southern April blooms.

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Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

that's incredible!

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I wish more people would do this, it is really fun to see. He must dream in color!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I accidentally found the house. Took my car to a nearby shop, threw my bike in the car to ride back and rode by it on the way home.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

What happy and well coordinated colors! A lot of people would not be half so daring (nyself included) , but I think he's pulled it off beautifully. Some people only dream in color. Others make the dream a reality.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Nicely put, Rosemary. I wold be very happy to have that house on my street. Maybe with one of the beige houses between mine and his though, just to rest the eye.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Ha ha.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)


Saint Simons Island, GA(Zone 9a)

I just read through this thread and really enjoyed all the comments. My husband and I moved into our new house last fall. It is a 25-year-old Victorian painted pink -- oops, peach. (He and the previous single male owner keep saying it isn't pink, it's peach.) Whatever ... looks pink to me. Now that the inside is relatively finished and the new roof is in place, we have moved to the fun part: rethinking the landscaping. We are lucky that it has beautiful live oaks and mature azaleas, a marsh behind the house and a lake beside, and great bed spaces already laid out and mulched. However, we have spent the last two months cleaning out some very old (and ugly) bushes, trimming back Indian Hawthorn that had become extremely overgrown and the like. There is not a color scheme in place. In fact, besides the flowering bushes, there are very few flowers. In addition to being two stories, the house is built up as you would expect on an island. The staircase and trim are white. The porch floors are light gray. The covers on the ground level openings are deep green. For this first go-round -- one good friend announced to my plants not to get too comfortable because the lady of the house might very well move them -- I am selecting plants with flowers of white, various shades of pink and peach, and blue. However, I also added a drift of multi-colored Zinnia seeds because I love Zinnias and that is what I had, so I am certainly not married to that color combination. I would be interested in any thoughts about good colors for pink/peach houses. The pictures were taken last fall before we moved. You can see the bushes we removed beside the driveway. Yes, they were the only things in the bed!

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St. Simon's Island, GA(Zone 9a)

Hi, Martha! I am on St. Simons also! I work at Ace Garden Center. Come by and see me sometime! The house is beautiful!


Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

What a gorgeous house! I actually kind of agree with your husband, at least in the photos here it seems less a cool pink, rather sightly warm or peachy.
I actually kind of like the zinnia idea-I think it depends if you want to play up the cool pink or the warm peach tones-it could go either way. if you google "orange pink and yellow flowers" and look at photos you can see how it can be warmed up with a bit of orange like in your zinnias. Lantanas, verbascums, hibiscus, some roses and some tropicals like plumeria do a lovely pink and soft orange thing that might be very nice there. If you decide coolness is the way to go I agree with the white-peachy pink and blue theme.
Oh you are gonna have such fun with this...

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

As a person who strongly feels that you can never have too much outdoor shaded space, yours looks like my dream house!

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

What a fabulous house, Martha! I'm sure most of us are ready to move in if you get tired of the place. Looks to me like you can do no wrong to this lovely setting. Because I'm never quite satisfied with a status quo, I like having a warm colored bed and a cool one somewhere else. You are in a place where you can grow camellias! There's room for the full color range of those, including the bright fuschia blossoms.

Saint Simons Island, GA(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the ideas! I will post a picture when I get the front, sunny bed more established. And, yes, Rosemary, I have added a Camelia 'Pearl Maxwell' in the space between the huge bed of Azalea and the sunny bed. Also in the sunny bed I went with a European Fan Palm, Agapanthus orientalis 'Baby Pete', Eucomis bicolor, Hisbiscus 'Painted Lady,' Daylilly 'Pandora's Box, and Leucanthemum 'Snow Lady.' I filled in with some Salvia cocciinea 'Summer Jewel Pink,' and Lobularia 'Snow Princess" and a few other odds and ends. We will see.

In the meantime I am creating a new bed on the east side in the shade. Even though I think the plants I started my gardening with are more northern than southern, I still want Hosta and Hellebores, so I will be searching and experimenting to determine which ones can survive our summers. I ordered a few that are rated to 9b, so they should do just fine for a start.

So thanks, again to everyone. Leslie, I look forward to meeting you. I think we probably know faces because I spend my fair share of time at Ace. Dawn was very helpful in putting an order together for me. And, yes, Pistil, we are having fun. I like the idea of adding the warm orange tones. Something else to experiment with!

St. Simon's Island, GA(Zone 9a)

Martha, it was so nice to meet you today. I can't wait to see the new pictures! Let me know if I can help find anything for you.

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