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Feeling All White: The effect of colour on landscape design

19/05/2020 - Case Studies and Inspiration

I’m noticing a distinct trend for very pale or white landscaping products this year and so I thought I’d take a closer look at the power of white and how it makes people feel.

Putting fashion to one side for a moment, white feels quite topical at the moment. With COVID-19 disrupting so many lives in so many ways, the colour is super relevant right now.  In colour psychology, white has several associations – all of them based around newness, purity, space and cleanliness.

  • White is the colour of new beginnings (think wedding dresses, christening robes)
  • Use this colour to create space – to make a garden feel bigger
  • Creates highlights
  • Associated with good stuff (unicorns, ice cream, spirituality)
  • Offers a sense of purity, peace, hygiene and yes, safety
  • Gives the impression that there’s nothing to hide
  • Invokes a feeling of simplicity, efficiency, neutrality
  • Some feel that white is harsh and hard to look at (white light contains all of the colours of the spectrum and for some, forcing all of that into their eyes at the same time is too much)
  • Great for strong contrasts but can make warm colours look garish

Historical uses of white in the landscape

Incorporating white into the landscape is nothing new. For as long as people have been able to afford ornamental gardens they’ve been adding wonderful white ornaments, water features, follies, furniture, terraces etc.
The first thing that springs to mind is Rita Sackville-West’s white border at Sissinghurst Castle where all of the planting is either white, green or silver.

Then of course, there’s the Court of the Lions in Alhambra dating back to the 14th century. Was this an attempt to create heaven here on earth? We’ll never know for sure but it seems likely. Whatever the concept this garden is living proof that white gardens really can stand the test of time.

How is white being used in garden design today?

This is my favourite bit of this article – the chance to share with you some of the amazing projects out there. In these images you'll see UK garden design and landscaping at its very best. Lots of clean lines, beautiful lighting, places for relaxing, entertaining and simply escaping from the pressure of life.



bespoke water cascade in white stone

Beautiful bespoke water feature in Radlett, Hertfordshire. Installed by Sullivan Brothers

Swathes of white hydrangea's as part of a project by A J Gardens of Borehamwood

white pagoda lit for evening use

swimming pool with white porcelain paving

Beautiful pagoda in a spotless white setting proudly lit so that it glows in the moonlight. Part of an ongoing project by Unique Projects Devon

Poolside entertainment space - it looks like somewhere in the Mediterranean but is actually in Hertfordshire.

Products to make your projects look more than all white

The Arbour Landscape Solutions website is heaving with products to create and enhance white landscapes. There are porcelain pavers in various shades of white and some with white accents. If you prefer natural stone, then granite or limestone is a great choice. They may not be pure white but they give a similar aesthetic.

Project in Solihull designed by Jack Dunkley  and built by The Greatest Scapes using ALS Yorkshire Setts

White is considered a strong colour in the ancient art of Feng Shui and it's usually associated with metal and glass. Now I'm not an expert in feng shui but I do agree with this particular combination of materials, and what could look better in a contemporary white garden design than a glass ballustrade?

Here's one I made earlier

glass ballustrade in 21st century poolside garden

Timber and natural products work well with white accents - somehow this mix is softer and less harsh.

garden with lateral timber fence and white accented walls

However you choose to use white in the landscape - be it the dominant colour or as bright accents to bounce the light around and draw the eye to specific features - it's sure to be a success.  I'd love to see your designs (especially if they incorporate ALS products).

Please send pictures and videos and I'll happily promote your work via my social media accounts. I'm looking forward to seeing them!

Useful Links

If you feel inspired by any of the ideas in this article, here are some links to beautiful products available to order online

Need something tailor made? Don't forget that Arbour Landscape Solutions is here to help - tell me what you need and I'll help you to find the bespoke products that will make your next project truly unique.

Check out our range of  Porcelain Pavers