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  • Writer's pictureDASHA HERVEY


Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Us designers don’t do anything until we’ve created a plan. It's also how I recommend designing with plants for exterior entertaining areas. With fall around the corner, now is the ideal time to bring out the notepad to create your ideal space with plants. We follow this road map until the big reveal.

You’ve seen plenty of media posts on how plants make a positive design influence in the home. They invite wellness, bring a sense of calm, and can even lift our mood and senses.

So, let’s take all that goodness and take these benefits to our outdoor entertainment areas.

Step One: Consider your sun, soil, and watering needs. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a plant only to have it look like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree thirty days out. My fav go-to book is The New Sunset Garden Book; It will help define micro ecosystems in the yard and the nuances from the coast to the inland areas about your future plant’s success.

Once you’ve defined your planting conditions, you can now identify what will grow in the space. Follow these basic principles and you’ll have an area that will provide the impactful wow you might be seeking from that tad bit of planning.

Step Two: Consider scale. Whether it’s a pretty pot or petite tree, larger plants look best when taking the back seat in the scenery. Think of a family photo, the tall person is always in the back.

Double Headed Geraniums Create a Pop of Color

Step Three: Identify a color theme. My go to is red and I’m in love with double headed geraniums for their hardiness, ability to rebloom, and lasting color. They are ideal for every holiday and are especially beautiful when combined with the soft lacey leaves of a Dusty Miller. Red’s color complement is green, which makes this color an automatic stand out in the garden. Not a fan of red, consider white, a classy neutral that illuminates in the evening light.

Varied Leaf Texture Provides Added Interest

Step Four: Texture and contrast: Plantings don’t always have to have flowers. You may want to consider plants that have varying leaf size, texture, and contrast like chartreuse, dark velvet purple, and variegated leaves. Consider layering plants. A good guide for potted plants is to identify a tall thriller, filler, and a spiller. This guarantees height, fills in blank areas, creates texture and extends the visual vignette with a spiller.

Image Swansons

Designer Tips

· Be water wise. If possible, consider drip irrigation to minimize water evaporation

· Know your zone. San Diego is zone 8, 9 & 10. Each of these zones are distinct for your plant’s success

· Create compost. Good soil is your plants best friend

· Pots in the same color hue help to create a consolidated look and allows the plants to take center stage

· Monarch butterflies need us. Consider a milk weed plant that will invite them to propagate, stay and play

Author Dasha Hervey, Sea and Pine Interior Design

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