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20 Ways to Work White Magic in Your Yard
Create enchanting outdoor spots with fresh white fences, florals and furniture
Houzz Contributor. I'm a Vermont based garden writer and designer with a background in public horticulture. I love experimenting with plant combinations and am inspired by the colors of plants, their forms, and beauty.
Houzz Contributor. I'm a Vermont based garden writer and designer with... More »
Like a perfect white shirt or a string of pearls, white gardens exude a timeless charm. They're classically elegant and never seem to go out of style. If you're looking to spruce up your property or try something new this year, it isn't hard to add a touch of white with flowers, fences and other elements for some oh-so-sweet cottage style, to create a soothing backyard retreat or dress up your front yard.
1. Welcome with white. This beautiful entrance is balanced with a white flowering dogwood (Cornus kousa, zones 5 to 8) and framed by a split-rail fence. The look is formal but not stuffy, and the fence matches the style and scale of the clapboard buildings.
2. Install a white fence for curb appeal. A low fence like this is both playful and proper. Dressed with roses and fronted with mounding perennials, it makes a welcome entry from the street or sidewalk. The fence can be strung with greens and lights in the winter season.
3. Screen a driveway with white pickets. This curved picket fence mitigates unwanted views of cars that may be parked in the driveway, giving the yard a cohesive look. A mix of sun-loving plants softens the hardscape along its exterior.
4. Top white fence panels with lattice. Let's face it, white fencing can be hard on the eye, so soften it with lattice panels like these. Note the sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora, zones 5 to 9), a great white flowering vine, on the brick pergola.
5. Mark an entrance. Arbors make great focal points. As an alternative to traditional wood, which needs regular upkeep, look for structures made from a white composite material, like Azek, for easy care and durability. Experiment with scented roses and string white lights for nighttime garden wayfinding.
6. Build a white pergola. There's really nothing like a well-built pergola to offer shade and respite outdoors. If your home is white, consider a matching pergola — a bonus room from which to enjoy the view. Flank it with silver and white plants, framed in a classic boxwood parterre for classical elegance.
7. Frame a garden room. White climbing roses on an arched metal arbor form a romantic entry to a lawn enclosure at this San Francisco residence. Light-colored fabrics catch the eye and keep loungers cool in the heat while a background of mature cedars helps make the blooming roses stand out.
8. Make chairs a focal point. This pair of white sling-back canvas chairs pops out of the dappled shade in this cottage garden in Portland, Oregon, where chic meets hip amid the green foliage of hostas, azaleas and white variegated brunnera (Brunnera 'Jack Frost', zones 3 to 8).
9. String a white hammock. Got a lot of color in your flower borders? White goes with everything, and a traditional rope hammock is a practical way to enjoy the scenery. It's also easy to take down and store at the end of the season.
10. Mix white with water. Classical urns with white chaise longues balance nicely with the creamy blooms of smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', zones 3 to 9) in this Connecticut poolside garden.
11. Install a white bench. I love the simplicity and elegance of this beautiful bench placed beneath mature trees. It's a work of art, with ornamental appeal, but offers comfort and relaxation.
12. Make a small space feel bigger. Short on space? Make it feel a little less cramped by using white, as shown in this rooftop garden. The crisp fabric of the seat cushion allows for a constant scene change with bold colored pillows, cut flowers and decorative accents.
13. Go for classic style. White roses are a girl's best friend (or is that diamonds?). Whatever your taste, a lush urn overflowing with blooms can make the heart swell. And did I mention the scent?
14. Grace a door with climbers. White clematis shows off with style. Give it support and shade its roots with smaller plants around the base of the container, like variegated sedge (Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance') or cool chartreuse coleus.
15. Mount a white birdhouse in a flower border. A whimsical birdhouse makes a good companion to white lilies, garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'David') and smooth hydrangeas in this coastal Maine garden.
16. Anchor tall plantings. In this San Francisco garden, white tulips lend a pristine formality to a brick-edged, curved stone walkway. Punctuated with columnar evergreens, the look is understated and timeless, and can be easily switched once the flowers fade.
17. Fill a space with shrubs. Use panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight', zones 3 to 8) with frothy Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macro 'Aureola') to screen a fence and create a full border with lots of visual interest.
18. Build a border with trees. When designing with white, remember that trees provide big impact, as shown in this Toronto garden, which has a line of white birch set against a building as a naturalistic screen with harmonious repetition.
19. Design for seasonal impact. In Vancouver, Washington, a stately grid of white flowering trees lends timeless appeal to a formal garden parterre centered around a single blue focal point. The look is pure and fresh, crisp and deliberately restrained — elegance redefined.
Ideabook updated on Feb. 5, 2013.
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