Designing a Color Palette for Your Edible Landscape

Updated on May 1, 2019
Organic Mama profile image

Amelia has been an avid gardener since childhood and enjoys experimenting with natural and sustainable gardening methods.

As with any kind of landscape, a good edible landscape design needs a coherent color scheme to prevent a chaotic appearance, and it is easier than you may think. All you have to do is choose two or three colors (in addition to green), that look good together and with the surroundings and stick to those colors. It really is that simple. However, if you are looking for inspiration or just want to explore options, read on to find out how to match up color combinations and create a coherent, beautiful color scheme.

My palette: Blue-violet (lavender), orange, and yellow.
My palette: Blue-violet (lavender), orange, and yellow.
Complementary Color Wheel
Complementary Color Wheel

Using the Color Wheel

The color wheel, such as the one at right, is a remarkable tool for choosing a color scheme. By choosing complements, analogs, or triads (explained later) you will find surprising and pleasing combinations.

Also, the color wheel will help you stick to your color scheme. Without precise colors to match you may find that you miss your mark. When I began my current front yard edible landscape, I chose purple, orange and yellow. However, as I began planting, I discovered that the purple Thai Basil is really much too red to go with lavender or johnny jumpup in my composition. And, though I wanted to grow purple coneflower, I couldn’t find a variety that is actually purple rather than pink.

Finally, a good color wheel will help you match tints and shades that will go with the colors you have chosen. This is especially helpful in matching other features of your yard, such as your house or fence color, to a place on the color wheel.

Red and Orange: Warning!

A word of caution is in order: orange and red can be visually caustic in a landscape, especially in the hot, blazing sun. Though I was overall pleased with my original plan, I did find the orange to be too caustic and have since limited it to a few low-growing flowers as well as some seasonal foliage. However, these colors do not have to be ruled out altogether if they are colors you really love.

Rosalind Creasy, a talented proponent of edible landscaping, successfully incorporates red into her gardens, often with purple and in shade. I admire how she matched red flowers with red fruit and a red bench or trellis. It is easy to recognize the beauty in these palettes, yet, I know that I do not want that in my space. Know thyself.

The Lavender-Yellow-Orange palette went well with the orange in the brick and he fence.
The Lavender-Yellow-Orange palette went well with the orange in the brick and he fence.

Before You Choose Colors for Your Garden

First consider what colors you have already in your hardscapes. The color of your house will probably be the most important consideration along with colors of fences and patios. If you often park in front of your house, your car should be another consideration. If you have a boisterously colored neighboring house, you have the choice of incorporating that color into your scheme or perhaps planting some tall bushes to block the view.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
AnalogComplementTriadSplit Complement
Split Complement
Split Complement

Arranging the Colors

The important thing is to find a combination that pleases you. What follows are several kinds of combinations that may help you find something to suit your taste and your place.

Analog: Perhaps the most intuitive of colors to combine are those that appear next to each other on the color wheel. This includes combos such as blue and purple, or yellow and orange. These are called analogs and tend to be calmer than other combinations.

Complement: Choosing colors that appear exactly opposite each other on the color wheel, called complements, produces an exciting, yet still pleasant combination. This includes purple and yellow or blue and orange.

Triad: Triads are three colors found equidistant on the color wheel (each separated by three colors). These are, to me, the most novel arrangements. For instance, the three secondary colors, green, orange and violet, form a surprisingly pleasing and exciting combination.

Split Complement: This is the combination I used in my current front yard. To create a split complement:

  1. Choose a color, in my case blue-violet.
  2. Find its complement, yellow-orange.
  3. Take the colors on either side of the complement, yellow and orange.

In this case, the split complement includes blue-violet (lavender), yellow, and orange. This explains why red and violet can work together. They form a split complement with yellow-green.

I hope this doesn't sound like math homework. Experimenting with color can be really fun once you get started. These tools can also help you understand combinations that you see that you like, whether they be around your house or in catalogs or stores.

Planting Suggestions

Thai Chili Pepper
Prolific fruits stand out on the ends of stems and hold well.
Red Sorrel (Bloody Dock)
Perennial Green with red veins
Beet, Bulls blood
Can be planted quite early, have a potted plant ready to fill the space when you harvest
Perennial, large leaves add texture to edible garden, stems edible
Red Basil
Small to medium tree. Color depends on variety.
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Thai Basil
Strong flavor
Violet-shaded stems, light violet flowers, shiny violet fruit
Perennial, first to bloom after tulips
Perennial, evergreen
Hyssop, Korean Hyssop
Blue Lupine
Nitrogen fixer, may not be edible
Red Cabbage
Looks like an enormous purple flower
Blue Balloon Flower
Edible root
Blue Cornflower
Self-seeding annual
Red foliage in autumn, 'Peach Sorbet' holds on to violet-colored leaves all winter.
Needs two varieties for pollination
Blue Agave
Hardy to zone 5, evergreen.
Blue spruce
Many sizes, medicinal use, young needles edible, comes in many sizes, evergreen
Lemon Grass
Annual in colder climates, grassy texture unusual in edible garden
Golden Sage
Chartreuse Elderberry (Sambucus nigra 'Aurea')
Berries for jam or wine, stands out in the shade
Aralia cordata 'Sun King'
Young leaves and shoots edible
Blossoms used for cough tea
Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum
Leaves used in stir-fry and Japanese cooking
Peppers: Bell, Sweet, Hot
Support with a stick painted one of the colors in your palette
May repel undesirable insects
Some varieties hardy to zone 6, look for self-fruiting
'Bonfire' has red foliage
Click thumbnail to view full-size

These are but a very few ideas to get you started. I originally tried to use only edible plants but have branched out to include medicinal, nitrogen-fixing, and even purely ornamental plants. So feel free to include your favorite flowers to give a colorful boost to your yard. For more help planning your garden, check out my article on Designing an Edible Front Yard for more planting ideas.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Amelia Walker


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Organic Mama profile imageAUTHOR

      Amelia Walker 

      3 years ago from Idaho

      Thank you, Ellen. I hope your gardening goes well.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Your garden is absolutely beautiful. I aspire to get mine to look that way. Your instructions will be very helpful.

    • Organic Mama profile imageAUTHOR

      Amelia Walker 

      3 years ago from Idaho

      That is a good point, Bella Shaikh. Edible landscapes do have the advantage of being safer for the little ones in our lives as well as showing them where our food comes from. Keep in mind that not not all parts of all edible plants are edible. Tomato plants and rhubarb leaves, for instance, are both toxic. Thanks for posting!

    • Bella Shaikh profile image

      Bella Shaikh 

      3 years ago from UK

      I like this concept and will try it in my own garden. I have a small child at home so its important to keep my garden edible but also pretty and practical.

    • Organic Mama profile imageAUTHOR

      Amelia Walker 

      3 years ago from Idaho

      Thank you, Au fait. Your color collections are lovely!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      3 years ago from North Texas

      You have such pretty photos! I've taken the liberty of saving some of your photos to my Pinterest boards and I hope that's OK. I have saved 4 photos to my Green 5, Blue 6, and purple 9 boards. You can view them by accessing my Pinterest account through my profile page if you wish. My color boards are very popular, and hopefully you will receive many visits to this article as a result.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)