We tend to think of trees and shrubs in layers of only green, but by taking into account their colorful characteristics, the view can change dramatically over all four seasons. Fall tends to bring out the most drama in a landscape.
1. CANOPY LAYER
Think of the tall trees— your own or from a neighboring property—as the backdrop for your yard or garden, and layer on the color. In this design, the dark bronze-to-burgundy leaves of Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’ set off the bright red foliage of Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia).
2. EVERGREEN LAYER Evergreen trees and shrubs may not change color very much, but combining them with plants that do gives the garden structure and year-round permanence. Tall or short, dense or loose, they can become either background color or accents in the garden.
3. SHRUB LAYER
Shrubs with spring or summer flowers and attractive foliage provide the greatest range of color and texture choices in landscape plantings with the least amount of maintenance. Read plant labels and make sure that mature height and width are proper for your available space, and you’ll prune less often.
4. HERBACEOUS LAYER Perennial and annual plants have a place among woody plants, providing softness and connection to the ground and nearby structures. Blend heights, textures, and colors at this level, just as you would with the taller trees and shrubs at the back of the planting.