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Tending a garden is like painting: You start with a blank slate and layer on colors and textures. But unlike painting, no garden is ever really finished.
Like all living things, your garden needs regular tending, and will continue to evolve and change over time. Whether you’ve got a new brand new flower bed you’d like to plant or a more mature garden that could use some sprucing up, there are plenty of ways to update your garden with our flower bed ideas.
How to Start Planning a Garden Bed
The first thing to consider is what kind of light you have so you can choose the right kinds of plants. Watch your yard throughout the day and determine how much light the areas you’re planning to use get each day. Most plants are labeled as needing full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight every day) partial sun (about half that) or full shade (little or no direct sunlight).
This changes slightly throughout the growing season, of course. Sunny areas in spring may be shaded by deciduous trees later in the year, or may receive more sunlight as the days lengthen and the sun rises higher in the sky. Remember, too, that morning sun is more gentle while blazing afternoon sun is the most intense.
When choosing a garden plan, remember that you can — and should — think about how the space will look throughout all four seasons. One way to do that is by combining annual flowers that bloom at different times with perennials. (Here’s more about the differences between annual and perennial plants.) Adding in shrubs and small trees can take your flower bed from average to show-stopping.
Don’t forget to layer your plants, as well! Placing taller plants in back, shorter in front, will offer depth and privacy to your garden.
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This flower bed uses gentle curves to create a shape that naturally draws the eye to the entryway and makes the space feel more welcoming. To achieve this look, lay out a garden hose to outline the pattern first before digging the bed.
Use Edging to Define a Space
Incorporate Natural Stone Accents
This bed is accented with stacks of natural stone, which provide texture and structure. You don’t necessarily have to build a wall; one or two well-placed rocks our small boulders add interest to any bed when artistically placed.
Read more: Why You Should Be Using More Stones In Your Garden
Mix Annuals, Perennials and Shrubs in Flower Beds
Add Containers to Flower Beds
Create Whimsical Accents
Raised beds allow you to plant in what may be otherwise unsuitable conditions, such as sandy, rocky or clay soil. They can be a few inches to a few feet tall, which make gardening easier on the back, too.
Read more: 15 Best Raised Garden Beds
Plant Edibles and Ornamentals Together
You don’t have to have a dedicated vegetable garden; combine edibles and ornamentals in the same bed for a pretty and practical garden. Here, tomatoes tumble alongside annuals such as flossflower. Flowers also attract and support pollinators, which is essential for some crops such as squash to form fruit. You even can incorporate edible flowers in your garden design!
Read more: 12 Beautiful Edible Flowers for Decorating Your Dinner Plates
Tall flowering plants, like those found in meadows, are beautiful and support pollinator insects. While it’s not practical to transform your entire yard into a meadow, you can convert a small portion, such as a narrow strip along the driveway or a small border area along your property line.
Read more: 20 Gorgeous Flowering Plants that Will Attract Bees
Your flower garden is already colorful, but adding an accent piece in an eye-catching hue, such as this sunny-yellow Adirondack chair, puts your personal stamp on it.
Read more: 21 Best Garden Ornaments That Aren’t Gnomes
Construct a Gravel Path…
Paths don’t have to be expensive; even a simple gravel path adds personality to any flower garden setting. It’s also a way to encourage visitors to wander through the flowers to enjoy the experience.
… Or Make a Natural Stone Path
Don’t want to bother with gravel? This path is even simpler to construct: Natural stones are sunk into mulch or lawn to create an attractive and wending path that makes you want to explore the garden.
Read more: 18 Stone Walkways That Will Beautify Your Yard
Instead of a large lawn with a small edge of flowers, consider expanding your beds and leaving just a small portion of lawn to serve as a grass pathway. It looks beautiful, helps pollinators, and with the right blend of plants will actually reduce work: Perennial beds also don’t need to be mowed like grass does!
Read more: 25 Best Perennial Flowers and Plants to Make Any Yard Beautiful
Window boxes are another way to enhance your flower garden. They’re also a great alternative if you don’t have the space to plant in-ground. Match them to your home’s style, as shown here with this picket fence-styled window box on a cottage window.
Read more: 20 DIY Window Boxes to Step Up Your Outdoor Décor
The repetition of plants provides continuous color and flow, which is far more appealing to the eye than one or two plants placed here and there in garden beds.
Use Unexpected Containers
Grow a Cut-Flower Garden
Part of the joy of gardening is adding flowers you can snip and bring indoors. Even a single stem makes a difference! You don’t have to create a separate space; just plant many different types of flowers, especially those with nice long stems for cutting, such as peonies, coneflowers, zinnias, and cosmos.
Read more: 60 Best Types of Flowers You Should Have in Your Garden
Hanging baskets are another way to provide vertical interest in your garden. They can be mounted to walls, off of decks, or on posts in the garden. Or use a shepherd’s hook so you can hang them anywhere you like.
Read more: 16 Best Flowers to Grow in Your Hanging Basket
Provide Water and Shelter
Every flower garden, no matter how big or small, should have a seating area where you can stop to enjoy the view. A small cafe table and chairs or garden bench work equally well in any setting.
Read more: 13 Best Lawn Chairs With Retro Charm
Use Flowers for Edging
Plants that spill over the borders of beds to overhang paths make a garden feel so cozy. Choose edging plants that will naturally drape over the path, and plant close to the edges of beds to achieve this effect.
Mulch not only keeps down weeds (less maintenance for you!), it conserves moisture so you won’t need to water as often. It makes beds appear more neat and tidy, too. Any organic type is fine including cocoa mulch, shredded bark or pine straw.
Read more: How Much Mulch Do I Need? Here’s the Easiest Way to Find Out
Include Seasonal Color
Even if you don’t have a large flower bed, a pot or two of seasonal color goes a long way to making your outdoor space feel lush. For example, display pansies and violas (as shown here) or flowering bulbs in the spring; begonias in summer; and mums in fall. You even can display potted evergreens in winter.
Read more: 11 Best Spring Bulbs to Plant This Fall for a Beautiful Garden
Dress Up Garden Structures
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