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Flower Garden Design Tips

Whether you’re planning your first flower garden or your fiftieth flower garden, it’s always good to have a design in mind. How do you design your flower gardens – do you sketch them out on paper? Or, do your fly by the seat of your pants? I’ve done it both ways, and I’m always happier with the outcome when I take the time to sketch out a design. You don’t have to be a professional landscape designer to have a lovely flower garden. These Flower Garden Design Tips work for both a new flower garden, or making over an existing flower bed.

Bee Balm & Zagreb Coreopsis

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First off, let me say that there is not a right way or a wrong way to design your flower garden. If you love it, well then it’s good enough! Whether you like a cottage type garden, a formal garden or a hodgepodge garden, if it has flowers, it’s beautiful. I have to remind myself all the time that it’s nearly impossible to achieve perfection in a flower garden. But, part of the joy of gardening for me is rearranging and working towards perfection. With Flower Garden Design, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

If you are a beginner or you just need some pointers on flower gardening, please take time to read Flower Gardening 101. Also, we won’t be covering sun requirements in this post, but you’ll definitely need to consider this when you’re selecting plants for your flower bed. Again, please check out Flower Gardening 101 if you need help.

Let’s get started with some things to consider when planning out your Flower Garden.

Flower Bed Shape

Questions to consider when laying out your design: What is the shape of your flower bed? Does it border your yard? Will it run along a fence? Does it run along the foundation of a building? Does it stand on it’s own – like an island or peninsula type bed?

Be sure to add some curves to your flower bed.

Flower Garden Border | Flower Garden Design Tips

Color Combinations in a Perennial Garden

I like to mix things up when it comes to color. Some like monochromatic and that’s super easy, but that’s just not my style. When I’m sketching out my plans, I try to pay close attention to what colors I have next to each other. Definitely don’t stress over this. If you end up with three yellow flowers together and you don’t like it, you can always move them around. If you would like more information on designing with color in your flower garden, here’s an article on the Proven Winner website that you might find interesting: Basic Design Principles – Using Color in The Garden.

Plant Placement in a Flower Garden

Stagger your plants. Remember, you aren’t planting vegetables here, you’re planting flowers, so no straight rows.

If you’re working in an island or a peninsula type bed, you’ll want to plant taller plants in the middle and work your way down with the shortest plants on the outside borders. The goal here is to be able to walk around the bed and see all the different plants with none blocking the view of others.

If it’s a foundation or border bed, start with your tallest plants closest to the foundation or the back of the border and work your way down with the shortest plants on the outside edges of the bed.

Something to keep in mind when working with perennials is that they don’t reach their full height until their second or third year, and some take longer. Check your plant tag for the height.

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Simple Flower Garden Design Tips
 

Consider Bloom Time When Designing a Flower Bed

Try to spread your plants out according to bloom time. This is probably the most challenging part of flower garden design. To help you with this, I have spent several hours putting together (and updating) a list of over 60 Perennials, which includes sun requirements, hardiness zones along with some helpful notes. Pick up your copy of Designing with Perennials for Continuous Color List in the Gardening Resources Library today.

 

Definitely add annuals to your design to fill in gaps when you don’t have many perennials blooming and to maintain constant color throughout the season.

Liatris, Black-eyed Susan and Phlox in a Flower Garden. | Flower Garden Design Tips

Adding Character to Your Flower Garden Design

Be sure to add some finishing touches to your Flower Garden Design, like mulch and garden decor. I love all parts of gardening, but one of my favorite things to do in my gardens is to add character with garden art and decor.

Always be sure to work into your design some solar landscape lights. They create a certain ambiance in your garden when they come on in the evening. And, if you have the space, consider adding a little garden bench

Amazon has some super cute flower garden decor pieces, some of which I have in my own gardens:

 

A Few More Flower Garden Design Tips

When you get ready to plant your flower bed, place your plants (in there containers) according to the plan that you’ve drawn out. Now step back and take a look and make any necessary changes. It’s important to remember the plant you buy from the garden center is not full grown, so you can either arrange your plants by the height they will be, or you can arrange them by the height they are now if you’re willing to transplant them in a year or two. 

Be sure to take pictures- before, during and lots of afters. It is very gratifying to be able to look back and see how your flower garden has grown and evolved.

I would encourage you to take time, at least every couple of weeks, to take a good look at your garden and make notes on what needs to be moved and any changes you want to make. There are lots of resources in the Gardening Resources Library to help you out with this. If you’d like a little more instruction on starting a gardening journal, check out this post on how to create your own Garden Journal.

And don’t fret too much over your design. The beauty of perennial gardening is you can move most plants if you don’t like where they are. Trust me, I do this a lot. And, as I say, there’s always next year. At the bottom of this post, there is a link to Tips for Transplanting Perennials.

Happy Returns Daylilies & Jacob Kline Bee Balm | Flower Garden Design Tips

Flower Garden Design Plans

Over in the Gardening Resource Library, you will find a new printable – Flower Garden Design Plan. There is also an updated list of 60+ Perennials that is organized by sun requirements and zone to help you design a flower garden that has continuous color for three seasons. Using both of these gardening printables, take some time to sketch out your new flower bed, or redesign an existing one. This is an excellent activity for a rainy day, or on your lunch hour, when you can’t actually get outside.

Need more extensive help designing your perennial garden? 

Would you love to have a Perennial Flower Garden that has
flowers blooming from early spring right through fall?

Designing with Perennials for 3 Seasons of Blooms is a Workbook/Guide
to help you create a perennial flower garden that has a succession of
continuous blooms from early spring through fall.
The Guide walks you through each step from designing your dream
3-season perennial garden on paper to executing your plan in the garden.
The Plant Lists in the Guide include over 90 Perennial Flowers
categorized by bloom time, sun requirements, zone, deer resistant,
rabbit resistant, cutting flowers and pollinator friendly.
The Guide is very reasonably priced, so stop and get your copy soon.

Thank you so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you’re inspired to design a new flower garden, or to makeover an existing flower garden. Here are some additional posts to help get you started or for additional inspiration:

Tips for Transplanting Perennials
Essential Gardening Tools
How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden
14 Plants You Don’t Want In Your Garden – Even If They Are Free
Creating & Caring for a Low Maintenance Flower Garden
How to Grow & Care For Lilies
Flower Gardening 101

If you have a gardening question, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can. Come back soon!

Happy gardening,

Joanna

p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

p.p.s. You can pin these pictures by hovering in the upper left-hand corner. Pin away!

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Image of Flower Garden with Text Overlay - Flower Garden Design Tips

 

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24 Comments

  1. Thanks for the advice for a flower garden’s design. It’s good to know that You should try to stagger your plants and not in straight rows. This sounds really helpful if it can make a garden seem like it has some depth to it.

    1. Hi Taylor, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Happy gardening, Joanna

  2. How do you get a password? I am already subscribed but don’t have a password to open up the printables.

  3. Johanna, Your garden is so colorful and lovely to look at. Nice job on designing it. How can I get a copy of the guide book mentioned on this blog? I want to pick flowers that bloom at different times to spread out the season.

    1. Hi Denise – thanks so much for stopping by. If you complete the subscription form, you’ll receive an email with the password and then you can print any or all of the forms in the Gardening Resources Library. Of course, if at any time you don’t like receiving updates from me, you can unsubscribe. Thanks again and happy gardening!

  4. So many great tips & ideas for garden design. I will be featuring this in my Fruits, Veggies, Roses — It’s That Time + HM #188 this Friday at #HomeMattersParty

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Pictures of your gardens are what initially drew me to your blog. So simple yet so very beautiful. And, your photography skills are awesome.

  5. These are lovely ideas. I have popped over from Home and Garden Thursday. Lovely to meet a fellow gardener.

    1. Nice to meet you, Sophie. Now I can put a name to all those “oldhouseintheshires” pins I’ve pinned. Happy gardening and thanks for stopping by.

      1. Oh lovely Joanna! I think I’ve spotted a few of yours too and pinned them! Loveky to meet anyone that loves gardening! X

  6. I just found your website and love it! So many beautiful ideas! I moved to a house that had a very overgrown shade garden. I have moved the viable plants and am now left with a weedy mess! The stinging nettle is especially out of control! Any thoughts on killing off the weeds so I can start the garden over? I was thinking a year of plastic over the area,? Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

    Jocelyn

    P.s. I know some like stinging nettle for herbal uses…I prefer it to be gone!

    1. Hi there, Jocelyn, and welcome! Ugh, I feel your pain with the weedy mess. I’ve been there. If you have the patience to wait a year, you can cover the area. I wouldn’t use plastic though because it does nothing for your soil. I use what’s called the “lasagna” method. Basically you lay down cardboard or newspapers and then cover it with grass clippings and shredded leaves. Or, you can just start digging. 😩 I’ve done it both ways and the digging is the hardest, but seems to work the best at getting rid of the weeds. Good luck and happy gardening!

      1. Thank you! I appreciate your input! Think I’ll try the lasagna method until I decide for sure what I’m going to do with the space! I will look to your website to inspire my decisions!

  7. You’ve laid out some good advice. I’ve gardened both ways- but mostly seat of my pants. Every year I get so enthused I really have to hold back from buying too much. I have to have annuals for that continuous flower of flowers all summer long. Gosh I can’t wait to enjoy another season!

    1. Hi Liz, I’m not doing any planting yet. Mostly just cleaning and assessing damage. Some perennials are slow to wake up. I have to remind myself that we had 18” of snow just a few weeks ago. Happy gardening and happy spring to you!

  8. Joanna , TIhank you for the design advice. I’ve llayed out design s on paper and colored in the plants with magic markers & that works well (until you get sidetracked at the garden nurseries). I bought the cobra head weeder & the Japanese 5 tine cultivator & they are terrific tools .
    I saw 2 hummingbirds by the pond this morning. Looks like spring is finally here in central Md.
    Yhank you for the tips & good luck, Joe

    1. Hi there, Joe – thanks for your kind words. I always enjoy your comments. Yes, spring has finally arrived here too. I’m not planting anything yet, but doing lots of raking and cleaning. Happy gardening!

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