Gettin' The BluesIdeas for incorporating blue into your outdoor spaces
Between the deepest Prussian to the palest azure lie dozens of specific shades of blue. Some are touched with green to create aqua, teal and turquoise. Others are neon cobalt and sparkling sapphire. What all blues have in common is they are the color of sky and water, but otherwise rare in nature. Sure, there are lots of blue flowers, but they are ephemeral, present only in the growing season. The rest of the year must depend on color from man made elements that bring the exact shade you have in mind into the landscape. For lovers of blue, here are some non-fading, long-lasting ideas to accent warm architectural facades, add color to outdoor spaces and visually cool a hot climate.
Find the perfect shade of blue and use it wherever you can to integrate the entire site.
Aqua blue is the color of swimming pool water if the plaster is white. Adding permanent aqua tile to the waterline, this freestanding wall with fountain, and its extension under water all bring this cooling color to temper the glare of white and concrete details. Aqua is also a color well recognized in Art Deco style as well as some ultra modern detailing like this.
See other uses of mosaic tile outdoors.
Wall panels with blue tile
To maximize the intensity of blues, use tile veneer for powerfully permanent color.
Without the solid fields of blue tile, this arched water feature would not stand out so crisply in such a small space. It is powerful hue, used by the designer to draw the eye down and away from multistory neighbors just a few feet away. There is a naturally exciting dynamic when cobalt is used with terra cotta accents and paving due to visual contrast of these two colors. Here they've selected a simple Mexican tile to carry a more subtle hint cobalt into the rest of the landscape and adjacent structures.
Big blue pots
Use pots for instant spots of blue this season without waiting for plants or construction.
Big pots and urns are the quickest way to integrate hot blue spots throughout the landscape without construction. There are endless shapes, surface textures and shades to choose from. Narrow neck urns lend themselves to unique rod-like contents with no maintenance. Another approach requires pots with a wide mouth that can hold a five gallon nursery pot. This allows a seasonal plant such as a potted bougainvillea tree from the nursery to be set into the opening for the summer without transplanting. It also helps to protect the pot and its glaze from discoloration and leaves a lighter container to move in for winter protection in colder climates.
Use blue foliage plants and succulents to provide affordable color year around.
The latest trend in landscaping uses plants that bear colored foliage, so there's interest for most or all of the year. After blue flowers cease to bloom, there is little of this color left unless it is part of the foliage scheme. In colder climates this may be blue ornamental grasses, or where it's warmer, there are many fabulous succulents that offer a range of forms from architectural specimen agaves to masses of low growing, drought resistant Senecios. There is no better way to create large masses of blue that are both affordable and low maintenance.
Blue shade sails
When ordinary problem solvers are colorful, they become the perfect combination of form and function.
Shade sails are a study in shadows and space that have really caught on for their seasonal benefits. These unique deep blue colored triangular shapes become an airy space-changer that easily links into other spots of blue within the overall landscape. Shade sails are an excellent problem solver where shade structures are problematic, and when they are selected in blue, they blend into the sky beyond in a more natural way than the former earth tone versions.
Outdoor furniture in just the right shade of blue helps bring carefree color to landscaping.
Whether you're using traditional Adirondack chairs or high tech aluminum seating, select them in just the right shade of blue to suit your overall design palette. The ability to specify powder coated metal furnishings provides opportunities for really intense colors that don't fade. When the furniture itself is a weather proof color source, there's no need to fuss with blue cushions that must be brought in before the rain or wind during transitional seasons.
Use outdoor fabrics for bright, color-rich accessories that make spaces pop.
In landscapes with built in seating or unique furnishings, cushions and pillow upholstery fabrics bring a wide range of blue options. There is no better way to link indoor and outdoor spaces. When the same shade of blue that drives the interior decor is used in outdoor living space, there's a stronger connection. The ability to bring solid blue or bright prints in a range of patterns lends a decidedly festive feel to the patio or terrace. It's important to utilize UV resistant fabrics to ensure your compositions retain the same shade of blue without fading.