Planning Planting
Garden Flower Bed Design

Garden Flower Bed Design

Help for planning your planting. How to create structure, color and style in your garden flower bed design. Which plants to use. How to draw a planting plan...

planning planting for flower bed design - a strong framework of trees for structure

Plants are a vital part of any garden, and are what makes your garden come alive!

Even if you've no interest in plant names, or complicated growing requirements, I'm sure you'll still want to include some plants in your garden - else it's just a yard!

Plants soften the look and feel of a garden. They can make a garden:

  • formal
  • relaxing
  • vibrant
  • colorful
  • playful
  • informal
  • food productive
  • full of nature and wildlife

Whether you've a specific style or 'look' in mind for your garden, or just want a garden that's attractive to look at, pleasant to be in, and easy to care for (don't we all!), plants will surely be a vital ingredient...

Plants are an important part of the garden, but look on your planting and flower bed design as the final stage of the garden design process.

Before you start thinking about planting, and designs for garden flower beds, you should make sure that you have already planned the shape, structure and framework of your garden...

If you'd like to look at this again, go back to our main How to Design page for starting a garden, to pick up the garden design process at an appropriate point for you...

Of course, your planting is, actually, a very important part of the framework and structure of your garden...

planning planting for flower bed design - use trees, shrubs and evergreens for structure in your garden

Flower Bed Design - Planting for Structure

When you considered your garden shape, and prepared your garden layout, you might already have considered how you would use planting to create your garden structure...

These might be hedges, or existing (or planned) trees and garden flower beds.

Your garden needs to have a good, solid framework or 'structure' of planting...

By this, I mean a selection of large, and/or evergreen, plants, that form the basic 'bones' of your garden.

These are the plants that hold your whole garden design together, and they are probably the only plants that will be visible in your garden, in the depths of winter... unless you want your garden to be flat and bare from November to February, you really should consider this carefully!

planning planting for flower bed design - think of your garden in winter to plan a planting framework

How to use plants for structure in your garden flower bed design

Some planting ideas you might like to consider:

  • Large, medium, and small trees
  • Focal point trees and gardening shrubs
  • Evergreens for year round (winter) color
  • Hedges, or rows of trees and shrubs
  • Climbers (against walls, or up obelisks or old posts and trees in the center of your flower beds design)

planning your planting garden flower bed design - use trees as a framework for height, interest, focal points and structure - think about where to position them

Remember to look at the garden design ideas in the page on the principles of good design, as these will come in very handy when planning your designs for garden flower beds...

In particular, think about the ideas of:

  • Balance

    • Balancing out bulk in one area of the garden with a matching, or similar, bulk, in the opposite area.
    • This is especially relevant for evergreen plants, which should be balanced around the garden, and not clustered together in one corner.
  • Proportion and Scale

    • Choose plants the correct size for your home and garden
  • Rhythmn

    • Repetition of planting shapes, sizes and colors
  • Direction and Movement

    • Particularly, careful positioning of focal point plants, to move attention around the whole garden.
  • Unity, Harmony and Theme

    • Making sure the styles and themes of plantings look good together - we'll look at this in more detail, in the section on themes and styles.

The framework planting is the most important part of your designs for garden flower beds - and it should be looked at first, in your planting plan.

You can draw these onto your main garden layout plan, or draw them onto a separate planting plan. We'll look at how to do this, later...

How to go about creating your planting plan

Think about how the garden will feel when it's bare in winter, and plan your larger structural planting around this.

You should also consider your soil type and other site considerations, when choosing plants for your designs for garden flower beds.

Once you've thought about plants as a 'framework', we'll move onto all the other plants you'd like to use in your garden, the 'infill planting'. More about this on this next page on Designing with Plants...

More about how to go about creating your planting plan, here

More about how to use color in your garden

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Plant I.D. and Basic Care

I know it can sometimes be tricky knowing which plants to choose, and how to look after them - that's why I find my friend Mike's website so useful...

He's compiled a list of easy to grow star performers for your flower bed design - all 'perennial plants' too (my favorite kind - as they come back year after year, with minimum effort!)

Check out his Perennial Flower Identification pages for some great plant suggestions to get your garden started.

Thanks Mike!

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