Foliage: Your Landscape’s Best Friend

June 28, 2016 | By Roundtree Landscaping

Flowering plants in the landscape are always a treasured element to any good design. And while we all desire a colorful, vibrant landscape, there are other ways to create drama, texture and even color by using plants that focus on foliage.

  • Foliage plants are an excellent backdrop to blooming plants.
  • Combinations of foliage textures and colors create dynamic interest.
  • Plants that focus on foliage make great focal points in a variety of garden styles.

The silver agave foliage shines against a backdrop of dark burgundy loropetalum.

Unfortunately, a plant’s leaf shape, color and texture is often considered secondary to their more colorful blooming counterparts; but, without a variety of foliage, landscapes end up looking dull. Just take a look at your landscape in winter...if evergreen foliage plants haven’t been carefully selected, you may find it quite barren!

And if you happen to have a shady landscape, you’ll soon find that foliage is the best way to bring color, contrast and drama into your outdoor space.


You might think that when it comes to color, there aren’t many choices of foliage plants. Once you start paying attention to plant foliage, however, you’ll soon find the choices are endless. If you’re not sure where to start, pick a color theme you want to work with; be it cool or hot, complementary or analogous. This will reduce “color chaos” and create a sense of purpose for the viewer. Pair burgundy foliage of loropetalum with deep green junipers, or copper colored sun coleus paired with silver-leafed salvias for striking combinations.

Hydrangea, Heuchera and Hellebore are a heavenly combo for shady gardens.

Leaf Shape

Choosing plants with different leaf shapes help bring contrast into your landscape. From heart-shaped and lobed, to sword-like and serrated, there are as many leaf shapes available as there are colors of flowers. For softer woodland landscapes we love the feathery foliage of ferns or the large, rounded leaves of leopard plant. Looking to add texture to a stark modern landscape? Consider planting a variety of sedum in an array of textures and colors, the upright horsetail reed or structural agave plants. Plants with the same foliage color can still contrast one another, as long as their leaf shape is different.

Sedum ‘Blue Spruce’ paired with matching blue fescue grass creates contemporary contrast.

Variegated leaves

The foliage of variegated plants often have a striped or mottled look that can brighten up a shady landscape. Look for variegated foliage colors in green and white, green and yellow, or tonal shades of green. Pair variegated hostas with solid-colored hostas to create a more interesting shade planting. Variegated groundcovers can brighten up shady areas.

A break from the traditional, variegated liriope helps brighten up borders or shady beds.

Adding foliage in clusters is a great DIY project for this spring. If you are looking to refresh your curb appeal or build new garden beds, we can help you design a landscape you’ll love to live in.


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