Garden Design: How to Design a Flower Bed

Design beautiful flower garden beds with our guide full of tips for planting, layout and garden design. See what a beautiful flower bed can add to your home!

Colorful flower bed outside home

The Beauty of Flower Gardens

Flower beds can transform your whole yard and look of your outdoor living space. They can make your back yard a cheerful place to spend time and refresh.

And they can make your front yard look more appealing and inviting.

Choosing the Perfect Location for Your Flower Bed

The first thing to do is choose the best possible location for your flower bed. You need an area with plenty of sun, since most flowers thrive in full or partial sun.

Study your landscape, and note which areas have well-drained soil that won’t become waterlogged during heavy rains.

Your chosen location should also be easily visible from key vantage points. Do you want to see your garden from your kitchen window?

Or are you more interested in having it be visible from the road so passersby and guests can be impressed by it? 

Soil: A Key Factor in Garden Design

Once you’ve chosen your spot, you need to evaluate your soil. This is the foundation for your flower bed, so you need to be aware of its composition to create a thriving garden.

Different plants have varied nutrient requirements, pH preferences, and drainage needs. Therefore, knowing the characteristics of your soil will help you to select the perfect flowers for your bed.

Soil Test

Start by conducting a soil test to evaluate the pH level and nutrient content. This will tell you the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. 

Also consider the texture of your soil. Is it sandy, loamy, or clayey? How well does it retain water?

Once you have these answers, you can amend the soil with organic matter or fertilizers to optimize its quality for your plants.

Choosing the Right Flowers for Your Garden Bed

Here’s where you start getting creative. You need to pick flowers that will have the look you want, but also thrive in the soil and sunlight conditions you have for them.

Climate and hardiness zone

Before choosing any plants, familiarize yourself with your local climate and hardiness zone. This information will help you choose plants that can thrive in your region.

Height and spread

Plan the arrangement of plants based on their mature height and spread. Taller plants should be placed toward the back, while shorter ones can be positioned near the front.

Color coordination

Decide on a color palette for your flower bed. You may want complementary colors or contrasting hues to create visual interest.

You may want to look online or in books or magazines to get inspiration. Are you picturing flowers in soft pastels, or a burst of vibrant colors?

Think about how these colors will harmonize with each other, as well as with your garden’s surroundings. From fiery reds and sunny yellows to soothing blues and delicate pinks, there are endless options waiting to be explored.

Opt for Perennial Flower Gardens

Perennials are flowers that grow back every year on their own. That makes your life as a gardener simpler, because you won’t have to plant anew every year, as you do with annual flowers.

Pick perennials wherever you can. Many beautiful flower gardens contain nothing else. If you have an annual you really love, you can easily incorporate it among the perennials.

There are many low maintenance perennials that thrive in full sun!

Garden Design Ideas: Planning the Layout

Start by thinking about the overall shape and size of your flower bed. A rectangular or oval shape provides a sense of uniformity, while curved edges lend an organic and natural feel.

Or you might be planting alongside a walkway, or right in front of your home in a mulched area. Whatever the plan, aim for a layout that complements the surrounding landscape and architectural features.

Next, think about color schemes. A monochromatic theme is simple and classic, with different shades of a single color creating depth and variety.

Complementary colors create a more vibrant look – a riot of color. This makes a bolder statement.

Create Focal points

Designate one or more focal points in your flower bed using larger plants or shrubs, sculptures, or decorative features. These elements draw the eye and add interest.

Incorporating vertical elements

Use trellises, arbors, or tall plants to add verticality to your flower bed. Vertical elements can provide a backdrop for other plants and add layers of visual interest.

Creating pathways and borders

Define borders around your flower bed with edging materials like stones or bricks. Pathways can guide visitors through the garden and help separate different sections.

Blooming Seasons

Remember to take into account the blooming seasons of various flowers to ensure year-round appeal.

Plant Height

Arrange taller plants towards the back or center of your bed to create depth and provide a backdrop for shorter blooms in front. This layering effect showcases the beauty of each and every plant in your garden.


Choose different plants with varying leaf shapes and textures to add visual interest and tactile appeal. Mix delicate petals with bold foliage or include ornamental grasses for added drama.

Blooming Seasons: Planting for Year Round Foliage

To get year-round beauty in your flower bed, choose plants that bloom at different times. Consider the following tips:

Select early bloomers

Include plants that bloom in early spring to kickstart the season with vibrant colors. Examples include crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils.

Choose summer stunners

Fill your flower bed with summer-blooming perennials like roses, daylilies, and coneflowers. These plants will provide an explosion of colors during the warmest months.

Goldfinch perched on coneflower

Include some fall foliage

Add trees or shrubs that display stunning fall foliage colors such as maples, birches, or burning bushes. This ensures your flower bed remains visually appealing even as summer fades away.

Creating Height and Depth: The Power of Layering

We talked earlier about putting taller flowers behind or in the center of a bed so the shorter flowers can be seen. Now let’s get into some more detail.

The key to achieving this layered look is selecting plants with different growth habits. For taller plants, look at perennials like delphiniums or hollyhocks as your backdrop.

Then, intersperse mid-sized flowers such as coneflowers or salvias for a harmonious transition. Finally, add lower-growing plants like petunias or lobelias along the front edge to create a lush carpet that invites admiration.

Ornamental Grasses and Shrubs

While flowers undoubtedly steal the spotlight in any flower bed, there is a world of other possibilities to explore. Adding other types of foliage to your garden can make your flowers look even more stunning.

Consider plants with unique leaf shapes, sizes, and colors, such as ornamental grasses or ferns with their delicate fronds. 

Shrubs can also be a beautiful addition to your garden. Some examples of flowering shrubs that make gardens more beautiful include:

  • Hydrangea: Known for their large, colorful blooms, hydrangeas make a bold statement in any garden.
  • Azalea: These shrubs bloom in the spring and produce vibrant flowers.
  • Lilac: Not only do lilacs have beautiful purple flowers, but they also emit a delightful fragrance.
  • Forsythia: These shrubs are often among the first to bloom in the spring, with bright yellow flowers.
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia): As its name suggests, this shrub attracts butterflies with its fragrant and colorful blossoms.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus): This flowering shrub blooms in late summer and fall, adding color to your garden when most other plants have finished blooming.

Maintaining Your Flower Bed

Once you have designed and planted your flower bed, maintaining it is key. 

Regular watering

Water deeply and consistently. Aim for enough water to keep your plants hydrated, but be mindful not to overwater them. Different species have varying water requirements, so research individual plant needs.

Pruning and deadheading

Remove spent blooms regularly to encourage new growth and prevent the spread of diseases. Prune plants to maintain their shape and control growth.


Feed your flower bed with the right fertilizers to provide essential nutrients to the soil. You can look online for what your flowers need, or you can ask at a local nursery.

Applying organic fertilizers at regular intervals will provide essential nutrients that promote healthy growth. You can make your own homemade plant food and, for some plants, you can use used coffee grounds and eggshells for gardening.

Weed control

Keep your flower bed free from weeds that can rob your plants of nutrients and moisture. Regularly remove any weeds that pop up, taking care not to disturb neighboring plants.


Mulching around the base of your flowers helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature.