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The look and feel or texture of the plants in your garden can be just as important as the colour schemes. Texture refers to the visual quality of a plant’s leaves and surfaces, often defined as fine, medium or coarse and words commonly used to describe different textures include soft, prickly, smooth, rough and bold. While colour and form have a dramatic influence in your garden, texture also makes a big difference because a plant’s texture helps define its role in the garden and by using texture your garden has more depth and visual layers.

If you will dine there then a table is a must but sitting on a settee might be just what you need for more relaxed times and if you want to use it as a quiet retreat you might need a hammock or lounger. If you wish to make the most out of your outdoor living space convert it into a multi-use space. Ambiance is also something to consider. Containers or a water feature to make it more relaxing, a simple arrangement of trendy pots or a table bowl of colour that can be changed to suit the table décor all bringing your personal stamp on the outdoor living room.

Adding textures to the garden is as simple as getting to know how to put different plant shapes and growing styles together in interesting combinations. Texture is also determined by light and shadow. Fine-textured plants reflect many small patches of light and shadow. Coarse-textured and bold plants reflect fewer. By planting in groups you create bigger shapes that can also change their role in the design. How we view texture also depends on distance. Up close, most grasses have a very fine texture but step back to the other side of the yard and all those needles join into a coarsely textured form. Aim for an attractive interplay of fine, medium and coarse textures in your garden.

This leads they eye towards a focal point and creates visual layers of interest. Use fine-textured plants to soften the hard lines and surfaces of structural features. They are relaxed and undemanding, and tend to recede into the background. They can make small spaces seem bigger. Grasses such as Mondo or Liriope are perfect for edging paved areas to break the paving line and yet still keep the edge tidy. Plant masses of fine- or medium-textured selections to lead the eye through your garden design. Arrange a group of the same plant along a path or at the back of the garden to encourage people to move through the space. The eye will follow a repeated pattern to lead you to a focal point. Use coarse-textured accent plants to arrest the eye and cause visitors to pause. They’re great for creating focal points or place a coarse-textured plant near a bench to provide a place for both the eye and body to rest. Coarse-textured plants usually have large leaves.

They are exciting, in-your-face attention grabbers, coarse textures compete for visual attention with the form and colour of other plants. They give a garden a heavy, tropical feel. Used in masses, they make spaces feel smaller. We love Flax as a dramatic statement bold plant which can also lend colour as new varieties with coloured leaves become available. The all new Ipomea or ornamental sweet potato is also eye catching. The lime green leaf grows in semi-shade to sun and is versatile in hanging baskets, cascading over the edges of a container or as a ground cover.

The key to effective use of texture is creating a balance between various plant qualities in the yard. A large amount of smooth, fine materials should be used to balance coarse textured plants and trees. Remember to gradually move through similar textures in your design for a smooth transition into each new texture.


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