Many things make up a garden and contribute to its beauty, but one of the most popular elements is a flower bed. For many people, a flower bed is the heart of the garden, with other elements working around this timeless method of growing flowers and greenery.
Types of flower beds
There are many types of flower bed, but in this article we’ll concentrate on two: border and island.
Border flower beds are mostly grown against the backdrop of houses, fences, lawn edges, and pavements, and can only be viewed from one side. They are usually designed with taller plants placed at the back, and shorter plants placed at the front. Border flower bed designs are often not very deep, with a lawn running up to them.
Island flower bed designs don’t have backdrops and can be round, square, rectangular, or any other shape, depending on your choice. Island flower beds can be seen from all sides, and taller plants are usually placed in the middle of the island with smaller plants around the edges.
How to design a flower bed
Typically, flower beds enhance the beauty of any garden. However, if a flower bed is to look its best, there are a few things you need to know when designing it.
1. Determine the shape and size of the flower bed
Flowering plants are usually arranged in beds of different shapes and sizes, and can be expansive, from large rectangles to small corner beds. To better understand how your flower bed will fit into the rest of your landscape, it’s a good idea to outline the lawn edging with a garden hose before you start digging. You can see examples here.
Once you’ve outlined your proposed flower bed, you can walk around it and look at the garden edging from every viewpoint. Your design can then be tweaked as you work out what looks best.
2. Select flowering plants
Once you’ve settled on your flower bed design, shape, and size, the next thing is to do a little bit of plant research. Think about show-stopping plants for a focal point, flower sizes, flowering time, colour combinations, and budget.
It’s also important to consider other qualities like fragrance, whether or not the flowers are wildlife friendly, and any issues around toxicity if you have children or pets.
3. Decide the style and design of your flower bed
Personal preference plays a very major role here. Nonetheless, in some situations, the architectural nature of your house will determine the best design. In any case, these two parameters should be the guide to deciding your flower bed style and design.
Different flower bed designs are more suitable for different types of plants. For example, a contemporary home might suit hard lines and a minimalistic pattern or planting, while a cottage-style flower bed can adopt a mix-and-match approach with meandering paths and bed shapes.
Whatever flower bed design you go for, make sure you incorporate good border edging to keep things looking neat.
4. Consider plant size
You need to consider the full height of a plant when you design a flower bed. Check the plant label to work out how big it will eventually grow, and allow enough space for it to spread out. Bear in mind also that plants at the front of the bed will spill out onto the lawn or path if you plant them too close to the edge of the bed.
A good approach is to go for a range of heights, with larger plants positioned at the back of a border flower bed and in the middle of an island flower bed.
5. Pay attention to flowering times
When you design a flower bed, you naturally want it to look good all year round. To achieve this, you need to include a variety of plants with year-round interest and staggered flowering times. You don’t want to create a garden that blossoms and is full of colour in summer, but bare in autumn.
Take some time to research which plants complement each other, and which ones will take over with flowers as others die back. This will allow you to cover all the seasons.
Have you got any tips when it comes to designing garden flower beds?