How to plan a flower bed layout – 13 tips to design like a pro

Flower beds that turn neighbors heads with saying -Aww, aren’t born by accident. Creating a balanced scenery which plays with perfectly matching colors and pleases the eye year around, requires a little of diving into garden design basics. This article will help you to figure out how to plan a flower bed layout with

First, become familiar with growing conditions on your site

How much sunlight your site gets daily? Choose plants which thrive in your light condition.

Soil quality? Do you have sweet or acidic soil? Is it clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, loamy or a mix of these?

Excessive moisture or drought on your landscape? Think also about the year around conditions. You can find suitable plants for both extreme conditions.

Strong winds? Tall plants can get damaged and suffer in strong winds and require staking.

You can read more here, how to build a flower bed.

Choose a focal point for your flower bed

A focal point is something where the eyes are first drawn to and will anchor them. Big boulder or a tree can be as good as any water fountain or statue. You can buy one, or even better, be creative and do it yourself. I think self-made decorations give a lot more character for your garden.

Planning with plants which will thrive

If you’re a beginning your gardening journey, I recommend getting started with plants that are easy to grow. It makes a lot more fun to see your flower bed thriving from the beginning. From nurtures pick up only plants with good labeling and suitability for your growing conditions.

Visit your local garden center and ask what they recommend, or talk to your gardening neighbors and find out which plants thrive in their yards.

Planning by the need of care

How much time or resources you’re willing to invest for your flower beds care and upkeep? Even the best-designed flower bed never lives up to what it’s creator visualized if it’s poorly maintained.

If you’re thinking more of a low maintenance flower bed, look things like,

  • cold hardiness
  • heat, humidity and moisture tolerance
  • not invasive
  • doesn’t require numerous pruning to maintain acceptable foliage or habit.
  • Doesn’t require frequent division
  • doesn’t require stalking
  • insect and disease resistance or tolerance
  • doesn’t require heavy fertilizing for growth
  • a lifespan of 5 or more years

Plan with gardening style

Are you in love with a certain style of gardening? If not yet, check out some styles. You can get an idea for a style from your house architecture to match it. See here in Wikipedia full list of types of garden

Here are some examples of the most popular ones to mention.

  • Coastal
  • Formal Garden.
  • Gravel and Rock Garden.
  • Informal and Cottage.
  • Japanese Garden.
  • Mediterranean Garden.
  • Modern Garden.

Planning with colors

Colors in your garden will significantly affect the ambiance in it.

Are you looking for a calm and relaxing feeling? Then you should pick cool colors and keep restrained contrast.

Do you want vivid and energetic vibes? Choose warm tones of colors and increase the contrast.

Explore different color combinations and find your favorite combos. Return to the color wheel from school years and bring back some basic combinations. You can see in this video how to use a color wheel

Analogous – Three color next to each other on the color wheel

Complimentary – Two colors, opposite from each other on the color wheel.

Complex – Three colors next to each other, combined with an opposite complimentary color on the color wheel.

You can get ideas from already existing colors, like from the color of your house. For your front yard flower bed you could select a complementary color of your house and create a mouth dropping scene for bypassing walkers.


Planning with layers

Is your project a border or an island. A border will have it’s the highest part at the border close to the back. An island will have the highest point in the middle.

Start by placing the shortest plants, called “borders” on the front, close to the front line.

After that, place middle-sized plants called “fillers” in order by height so that tallest ones will be as a backdrop.

To create a natural look and avoiding church choir kind of arrangement, you can break this rule by placing some airy and transparent plants like ornamental grasses somewhere in the middle ground.

Notice that plant height is marked in the label with blossoms so if a plant have also pretty foliage, think how you can show it the best.

Plan with repetition

Repeating colors and shapes of plants in different parts of a flower bed, will create balance, serenity and bind it together.

Choose for plants to repeat, ones that look good and healthy through the whole growing season.

These plants can also easily been used to bring together bedding next to each other and add flow when your eyes move through the garden.


Planning by mixing different shapes and combinations

Perennials have many shapes of blooms and leaves. You can create unity or contrast and layers with combinations of different textures, dimensions, and sizes.

Planning with the ambiance

Both color and style play important roles in designing a perennial garden that creates a particular mood.

What kind of mood do you want to experience in your garden?

For my sunny south side terrace, I wanted to have a holiday resort kind of tropical feeling. I picked for the color scheme vibrant yellow, orange and red and planted the surrounding flower beds with tropical plants like Banana Trees and Elephant Ears and flowers like Tropical Cannas, Hot Pokers, Asiatic Lily’s, just to name some. Can you already see me sipping a cocktail in a hammock?

Planning with interest for the season

When do you spend the most time on your patio or deck? You can design around it with flowers which are at their best exactly when you can enjoy them the most.  Spice up your spring with planting spring bulbs right in front of your kitchen window, where you often stop during the day and look outside. Mix flower beds with evergreens, grasses, and trees to add interest for all seasons.

Planning for wildlife

Do you love butterflies, hummingbirds or bees? Invite them to your garden with adding flowers they favor the most.

Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors and they especially love red. Their long beak fits perfectly to tubular-shaped flowers which hold the most nectar they feast on.

Example of flowers for attracting hummingbirds to your flower bed;

  • Daylilieshow to plan a flower bed layout
  • Foxglove
  • Lupine
  • Honey Suckle vine
  • Phlox
  • Petunia

Beautiful butterflies are drawn for the most to colors orange, yellow, pink and purple. If you wish to keep butterflies in your garden through the whole summer, make sure you have continuous blooms in your flower bed at all possible times.

Some flowers for example to invite butterflies;

  • Shasta Daisyhow to plan a flower bed layout
  • Dahlia
  • Aster
  • Candytuft
  • Dianthus
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Butterfly Bush

Buzzing bees are guaranteed way to add some life into your flower bed. Lure them with flowers of white, yellow and blue and purple colors. Bees favor native flowers which they are “grown up” with, so simply add native wildflower seed mix into your flower bed and you make them happy.

When selecting flowers, keep in mind that bees are in a hunt for pollen and flowers with a single row of petals have it little more than others. Planting flowers in mass make it easier for them to collect.

Seduce bees for instance with flowers like;

  • Roseshow to plan a flower bed layout
  • Sunflower
  • Lavender
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Rock Cress
  • Oriental Poppy
  • Zinnia
  • Allium

Draw a sketch

Begin your flower bed draft with “specials”. Choose a tree, boulder or whatever you like for focal point to anchor the eyes.

Add the “bones” of the flower bed. Use these evergreens or even a hedge to create year-round interest.

Keep filling with “decoratives”, flowering shrubs and tall grasses.

As the last thing, fill spaces in between with “pretties”. Spring and summer blooming perennial and fillers such as bulbs, annuals, and biennials.

The purpose of a flower bed is to spread joy

Now we have come to the end of a long list of important things to consider when designing a flower bed. You’re probably beginning to see, what is the thing you will put the most value on.

For me, important are colors and balance. I must confess, I might be even little obsessed with colors, everything else comes after that.

Maybe you want your flower bed blooming all summer through.

Maybe for you, it’s about flowers with a lovely scent.

Maybe you’re ready to do whatever it takes to have the most stunning formal garden style flower bed, including all the work it requires.

Remember it’s all about you! Listen to your heart, what brings you joy? Your flower bed will be as unique and personal as you are.

How does your favorite flower bed look like? I would love to hear it in the comments down below.

Let’s make our gardens bloom together                                                                  ~Mari~

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