Using Texture in the Garden

Color and shape play a key role in the garden, but we often forget about the role of texture in garden design. Plant textures vary from very fine and airy to coarse, with a whole range of textures in between.  As we’ve seen in earlier posts on garden design, texture can refer to both the overall plant form as well as the shape and size of the leaves and/or blossoms. Adding texture to the garden can also be accomplished by varying colors and contrasts and including garden ornaments and structures.

Use these photos showing how a variety of textures can easily add interest to any garden as a jumping off point for incorporating more texture into your garden!

texture in the garden

Boldly textured plants usually have large leaves and are real attention grabbers.


Coarse textures and/or large foliage often adds a tropical touch to gardens – even in colder climates!

texture in the garden

Bold tropical-looking foliage of Tropicanna canna stands out in this Chicago area garden.

Fine textures, including leaf textures and soft colors, can often accentuate nearby plants.

texture in the garden

In the foreground, the bold shape and colors of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’  are set off nicely by the soft foliage and colors of nepata (cat mint).  In the background, the soft ornamental grasses work nicely against the stronger foliage of a Fringe Tree and a mix of annuals and perennials.


Plants with small leaves and/or blossoms are generally fine-textured plants. They give a light and airy feeling to a garden.

Lady's Mantel plant

The airy, chartreuse blossoms of Lady’s Mantel soften the combination of Flower Carpet roses and spikes of Blue Storm agapanthus.


Using a variety of textures within a give space adds impact and interest to your garden. The textures and shaped of nearby trees and shrubs should be taken into consideration as well.

garden ornaments

This garden features a great combination of textures, using both plant materials and garden ornaments.


Gardening in small spaces

Fine textured and/or lighter colored plants, when planted with medium or coarse-textured plants, often recede into the background and can make small spaces appear to be larger as seen with Flower Carpet Pink planted next to lavender.


Finer textured plants often allow motion to play an interesting role in the garden, where even a slight breeze will send them swaying gently.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

Ornamental grasses planted next to Festival ‘Burgundy’ cordyline and palms in Auckland Botanic Gardens.


great container plants

This simple horizontally striped container sets off the cascading foliage of Festival Raspberry quite nicely – simple, elegant and low-maintenance!


Add contrast by combining coarse-textured plants with medium or fine-textured plants.

garden design

Coarse-textured Burgundy Spire and canna Tropicanna in the background combine with medium-textured Storm agapanthus and Flower Carpet Amber.  A shiny, smooth container adds to the overall interest.


Garden ornaments and furnishings can also help to add texture to the garden as seen above and in the next photo.


The bold foliage of palms and Festival ‘Burgundy’ contrasts nicely with the hardscape and softer lambs’ ears, lobelia and mixed annuals.


Bold forms in the garden

Bold colors and forms add drama to the garden, so use them sparingly.


Using texture in the garden

Various textures and colors combine for a stunning overall look in Wisley Gardens.


As we’ve seen, a combination of shapes and forms can easily add interest and “texture” to any garden.  Give it a try yourself!

using texture in the garden

This garden features vertical sages combined with solid blocks of boxwood and softer forms of Flower Carpet roses. The airy chartreuse Lady’s Mantel blossoms soften the overall look and pull everything together.















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One Response to Using Texture in the Garden

  1. Phillip Townshend February 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Texture (read shape or form) seems always to be a secondary consideration when it comes to garden design with so much emphasis on the flower or foliage color. Texture can be an incredible design element when it comes to garden design and can offer so many options when it comes to maximising the show in a space by taking into account the options for vertical and horizontal presentaton.

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