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Inspiration for Your Next Garden Project

    Inspiration for Your Next Garden Project

    I love incorporating fresh flower bed ideas in my yard. I’ve built a pollinator palace in my front yard garden, added a raised bed among perennials, dug in herbs in a border planting, carefully positioned garden art among the flowers, and more. Neighborhood walks, garden tours, both local and international, and of course social media are all great sources of inspiration. When figuring out your garden, there are so many options: symmetry vs that wild cottage garden look, a riot of color vs a more classic, monochromatic palette, low maintenance vs a garden that needs lots of attention, etc. Today I’m sharing a variety of flower bed ideas that I’ve tucked away for future gardens that I’ll create—or existing ones I’d like to overhaul.

    Narrow down flower bed ideas and map out a plan

    Before you get started, it’s important to make sure the garden’s conditions are conducive to your master plan and creativity. That means building healthy soil that will help the plants you choose to thrive. Or, it means choosing plants based on the soil conditions. For example, if your garden is being built on a part of the property that does not drain well, you’ll want to consider plants that don’t mind wet feet. In this case, a rain garden plan may be helpful.

    The outdoor space at the very front of my property is very dry. I’ve been working to amend the soil, but my plant choices for that area are drought and heat tolerant. The plants closest to the road are salt tolerant.

    An interesting flower bed with a sculpted shrub
    I love how there is a wilderness to this garden—but with a formal, sculpted shrub sitting among all the plants! When you’re planning what to plant, think about adding these types of visual surprises.

    On lush, leafy, tree-lined streets, you may be dealing with shade—or tree roots! That latter challenge may impact how you plant the annual flowers and perennials you choose.

    One other thing to always be mindful of is the location of any underground lines or cables. It’s always a good idea to make use of your local “call before you dig” program before you start moving any great quantities of dirt around. Now let’s dig in to these flower bed ideas!

    Work with a slope

    Building a new garden on a slope can be a challenge. You want to make sure all your efforts aren’t washed away after the first significant rainfall! Tiering your garden with patio stone or rocks can create flat levels in which you can plant.

    a rock garden planted with canna lilies on a slope
    This rock garden on a slope is in a hot, sunny location, allowing the canna lilies and dwarf zinnias to thrive and shine.

    Turn your whole backyard into a flower bed

    Backyards are generally edged with flower gardens, keeping a vast expanse of grass in the middle. But what if you did the opposite? As in make the majority of your backyard the garden, with grass pathways in between. This is something to consider as more information about the benefits of rewilding start to make their way into gardening articles and designs.

    backyard flower beds with grass pathways
    This Irish garden features a mix of ornamental grasses and perennials, with grass pathways in between. It’s the reverse of a traditional yard, which is usually ringed by a garden, with most of the land remaining as a lawn.

    Create a private nook among your flower beds

    What a shame if you create a garden, but don’t establish a seating area where you can enjoy its various vantage points! Position a flower bed, so that you can nestle a bench among the flowers or build a larger seating area as part of the planting plan.

    a private seating area in a garden
    This private seating area is surrounded by lush foliage and vibrant flowers. It’s topped with an arbor, providing the perfect shady place to curl up with a book on a hot summer day.

    Choose bold flowers and foliage

    In some gardens you can just tell there is a painterly green thumb behind the planting scheme. Think about bold pops of color when planning your garden and perusing the garden center. Coleus and heuchera, for example, come in a fabulous range of leaf patterns and colors.

    an orange garage door surrounded by colorful garden folaige
    This gardener clearly has a thing for orange! I love the bold hue on the garage door and the riot of color in the flowers and foliage that surrounds it. Generally I like to choose a color scheme for my containers each year. However I think I may have to devote some time to thinking up a palette for a flower garden.

    Light up your flower beds at night

    Add solar lights to your gardens so you can admire them when relaxing outside on a hot summer night and when you’re entertaining.

    solar lighting in a garden
    Install solar lights in your flower beds to illuminate your gorgeous gardens at night.

    Add texture to your planting

    One big tip that I’ve taken away from gardens in the UK is the use of texture when choosing plants. Fennel is often used for that light, fluffy look. That aesthetic can be achieved with flowers, too—think astilbe and goatsbeard.

    texture and color in a flower garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
    Add feathery, delicate foliage to your gardens to complement strong flowering perennials and differently shaped flowers.

    Create a carpet of plants

    Depending on the angle of your flower garden, you may have an opportunity to really play with ground covers to create a mosaic design. This is similar to the idea of ​​a groundcover quilt, which I mention in my article about front yard garden ideas.

    colorful garoundcover in a sloped garden
    Use groundcovers to create patterns in a flower garden. I fell in love with this sloped groundcover garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens. This idea could be replicated in a home garden—maybe on a backyard slope—on a much smaller scale.

    Grow a mix of food and flowers

    Consider the ornamental qualities of edible plants, like kale and various herbs. In my front yard garden, I have a border of lemon thyme. The lovely, variegated leaves are ornamental, but available to my herb scissors when I’m cooking dishes throughout the year. I’ve also snuck a small raised bed into that same perennial garden, where I can take advantage of the sun and grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, or whichever patio varieties of plants I choose.

    raised bed in a flower garden surrounded by dianthus and other plants
    Supra Pink dianthus are hiding the front of this live edge raised bed in my front yard garden. The bed itself features a couple of pepper plants and columnar basil. The rest of the perennial flower bed features pearly everlastings, rose campion, catmint, and coreopsis, as well as some cosmos that like to reseed themselves every year.

    Add shelter for pollinators

    One of my favorite things in my front yard garden isn’t a plant, it’s my pollinator palace. There is so much inspiration out there now to fashion your DIY project. Or, you can easily find one at the garden center.

    an insect and wildlife hotel in a garden
    This “creature tower” was displayed among the alliums, elderberry, and other perennials. It’s part of Nigel Dunnett’s “Greening Gray Britain” display garden at the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This structure is meant to shelter both birds and insects that frequent the garden.

    plant your boulevard

    Whether you call it a hellstrip, a boulevard, or a verge, depending on your street, that empty space is just begging to be planted. Check with your town or municipality’s bylaws to make sure you’re allowed to plant in that space. You also don’t want to block any sight lines that would impede your view of traffic when backing out of a parking spot. And see the aforementioned “call before you dig” tip.

    a flower bed on a hellstrip
    This boulevard featured on the Garden Walk Buffalo route has that dreamy, haphazard cottage garden look.

    Keep an orderly edge

    Whether you use old bricks to create a mowing border, or you’re out in the garden each spring with an edger, a neat and tidy garden border allows the plants to shine.

    a well-edged garden
    A neatly edged garden outlines a flower bed featuring a mix of shrubs and perennials. I like the garden art, too!

    Make do with large trees

    One of the most common questions I get when giving talks about my book, Gardening Your Front Yard, involves how to plant around the base of a big old tree. In most cases, the ground may be very hard to work with because of the roots. In other instances, if the tree is a black walnut, for example, you’re looking for juglone-tolerant plants, if you can even dig into the soil to plant. Clever potscaping with a variety of planters can solve the issue. This would also work around an old tree stump that can’t be removed.

    containers of plants around a tree
    This front yard gardener has used flower pots as the flower bed to “plant” around the base of a large tree.

    Create a special garden for spring flower bulbs

    Tulips, daffodils, fritillaries, snowdrops, and other spring flower bulbs are harbingers of spring. They’re always very welcome after a long, gray winter. Create a flower bulb “mix” by choosing several bulb varieties or go for the impact of a single variety. Plan for continuous blooms by checking the packages for flowering times.

    daffodils in a spring garden
    Dedicate a flower garden to spring bulbs. You can plant it up afterwards with colorful annuals. Or, plant perennials between the bulbs, like hostas, which will take a while to come up in the spring.

    More garden design ideas

    flower bed ideas - inspiration for your next garden project

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