Foliage Fun: Adding Texture to Your Garden

Think of your garden like a bouquet. If you want to achieve a distinct and dynamic design, you’ll want to combine various colors, shapes, heights and textures into a harmonious arrangement. Becoming familiar with different types of foliage textures can help you learn how to best arrange plant varieties to achieve a beautiful garden design with wonderful depth and interest.

Some foliage textures or leaf sizes and shapes will be ideal for filling large spaces, while others will be better suited for adding decorative touches along garden edges. One way to go about choosing foliage textures is to sort them into four broad categories.

Simple Foliage. Leaves of this category are typically round, oval, heart-shaped or arrow-shaped.

Linear Foliage. This category includes ornamental grasses, as well as plants with long, narrow leaves like iris and yucca. It also includes spiky or upright foliage like Euphorbia or “Sticks on Fire.”

Fern-like Foliage. As the name implies this foliage texture includes plants with deeply cut leaves like that of yarrow, as well as those with thicker, more compounded leaves like the European mountain ash.

Complex Foliage. Houzz writer Jocelyn Chilvers calls these types of leaves “fancy foliage.” Whether lacy, loped or indented, elaborate foliage is like the jewelry of the garden.

Let’s take a look at some stunning examples of these four foliage textures.


Source: Creative Garden Spaces via Houzz

The simple foliage and tiny blue flowers of the groundcover below create a nice contrast with the large, heart-shaped leaves of the false forget-me-not or “Jack Frost.”


Source: Stone Farm via Houzz

The fancy foliage of these geraniums add a rich lushness to this garden, while the linear foliage of the ornamental grass adds welcomed height.


Source: Strata Landscape Architecture via Houzz

This succulent garden is a gorgeous combination of large and small simple foliage, linear foliage and complex foliage.

Each foliage texture allows individual plants to make a visual statement. But a keen eye is required to ensure harmony and cohesiveness in landscape designs. Contact the experienced landscape designers at Lifescape Colorado, and we’ll help you achieve a garden with great color and textural interest.

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