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The Rule of 3's and Garden Design

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Ever hear of the rule of three's? It's the idea that things are inherently funnier, more appealing, or more effective when listed in three's. Examples include the Three Stooges, the Three Musketeers, or BLT's. Luckily, garden design is not an exception to the rule. The sheer number of choices you have at a local nursery can be very intimidating, but using the rule of three's will help narrow your search to ensure visual harmony in your yard.

Three colors- If done correctly, gardens can feature every color of the rainbow. Done incorrectly and it can look a bit haphazard. Instead, consider choosing three colors that compliment one another and go from there. Color doesn't have to be in flower form either; deep burgundy weigela leaves compliment silvery dusty miller beautifully. The "typical" green of the leaves and stem can count as a color as well. Pick your favorites! Here are some great combinations to consider: -Red, orange, and yellow

-Purple, magenta, and green

-Pink, white, and yellow

-Purple, orange, and red

Three textures- If you prefer the look of the more reserved, all-green color palette from non flowering shrubs or perennials, consider mixing three different textures to make it more engaging. Mix spikey grasses, large leafed shrubs, and softer mounding perennials to create visual interest.

Three heights- Using plants that are all the same height may look nice when standing next to your garden, but walk a few yards away and you'll only see what's planted in the front row. Instead, try using three different heights: creeping, or low growing plants at the front border, medium height perennials in between, and tall bushes or grasses at the back.

Container gardening- "Fill, spill, and thrill" is the phrase you should keep in mind as you search for annual combinations. This will create harmony and balance in your larger pots (10 inches or larger in diameter). For smaller pots stick with one variety, but arrange in groups to create a combination of three colors or textures.

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