Color in landscape design comes from many sources. The color of the structures on the property are a primary consideration. An important bit of information to know is whether the color of the buildings will change. Color preferences of the users must be considered. Color also plays an important part in choosing paving and other large hardscape elements such as arbors, pergolas and seat walls. Fences, furniture and arbors/pergolas are items that can add color to a garden. Containers and garden ornaments can be focal points of color.
The job of plants in the garden is to marry all these elements together. In the Midwest, where deciduous plants are dormant six or seven months of the year, plants can carry only part of the load if year round color/interest is wanted. The plant palette depends on the amount of sun and soil type. Color can be augmented by foliage of plants as well as flowers. Containers that can withstand our freeze/thaw cycles may present color limitations as well if clients want containers to remain year round.
Color palettes are affected by the intended use of an outdoor space. An outdoor space used for contemplation would use cool colors, while an entertaining space would support a hotter color palette.
Budget for hardscape materials can be major constraint in landscape design. While color retention of concrete pavers has improved, brick, clay pavers and natural stone are much less likely to fade. Brick pavers have the limitation of color selection. Natural stone can be pricey. When hardscape colors are neutral, color finds its way into the project in other ways.
A well thought out use of color in a garden plan is as important as the shapes, uses and plant selection.