Gorgeous flower beds and borders add vibrant colour and visual delight to outdoor spaces. A thoughtfully designed planting bed also helps define areas in your yard while providing curb appeal and privacy. With the right landscape positioning, plant choices, and ongoing care, you can create living works of art for all to enjoy.
This guide will walk through planning, designing, planting, and maintaining stunning DIY flower beds. You’ll get tips for choosing plants with year-round appeal, techniques for healthy beds, and our top picks for must-have gardening tools and accessories. Let’s turn your yard into a floral showpiece!
Benefits of Flower Beds and Borders
Here are some key advantages of incorporating ornamental flower beds in your landscape:
- Curb appeal – Beds along the entryway instantly boost aesthetics for guests.
- Define space – Beds and borders create designated areas for relaxation, play, and more.
- Screen views – Strategic beds block undesirable sights while allowing desirable views.
- Limit maintenance – Defined beds simplify mowing, trimming, and weed control.
- Improve ecology – Flowers support pollinators like bees and butterflies.
- Enjoy nature – Beds let you immerse in gardening and the beauty of native plants.
- Express personality – Mix favourite colours and varieties to reflect your unique style.
Thoughtfully placed flowering beds offer form, function, and endless delight. Now let’s get to the design!
Site Evaluation and Planning
Assess these key factors before breaking ground on your flower beds:
Chart sun exposure throughout the day. Most flowering plants need at least 6 hours of direct sun, ideally morning with afternoon shade. Arrange your bed layout accordingly.
Get a soil test to determine pH and nutrient levels. This influences what plants will thrive. Amend if needed.
Situate beds within reach of your hose or sprinkler system. Group plants by watering needs.
Slope and Drainage
Avoid depressions that collect water. Improve drainage by mounding soil and mixing in gravel.
Maximize enjoyment by placing beds and borders along high-visibility routes.
Complement or enhance other structures and elements like fencing, sheds, and seating areas.
Focus on key beds first, then add over time. Purchase young starter plants during sales.
Assess the maintenance level you can realistically handle. Seek hardy, low-care varieties if needed.
Designing for Year-round Interest
The most effective beds intermingle plants to provide multi-season appeal. Follow these tips:
Combine Perennials and Annuals
Perennials return each year from their rootstock while annuals live one season. Including both extends blooming periods.
Stagger Peak Seasons
For continuous colour, plant varieties that peak at early, mid, and late season. This ensures something’s always in flower.
Variegated leaves, colorful stems, and interesting textures keep beds looking fresh after blooms fade. Try astilbe, coral bells, coleus, and ornamental grasses.
Unify the look by repeating plants throughout the bed or other areas of the landscape.
Replace bland grass with flowering groundcovers. Lawns offer no interest when not actively growing.
Vines, trellises, tall perennials, and container plants add height and architecture for multi-dimensional designs.
Let some plants self-sow for a relaxed cottage garden effect. They pop up in perfect natural combinations.
Edge for Definition
Use pavers, rocks, or metal edging to delineate beds from lawn. Curves and free form shapes add whimsy.
Best Practices for Planting Flower Beds
Follow these tips when placing plants to get beds established quickly:
- Loosen soil 12-18 inches deep and mix in compost to improve drainage and nutrition.
- Space plants are closer together than their mature width. This prevents early weeds. Fill gaps as plants grow.
- Place taller plants toward the back or centre. Medium height in the middle, short in front for visibility.
- Cluster groupings of the same variety together for greater visual impact. Repeat through the bed.
- Set plants at the same level they were growing in pots to prevent burying crowns or leaves.
- Water thoroughly after planting. Apply mulch around plants to retain moisture and reduce weeds.
- Stake tall or fragile plants with bamboo stakes for support until established.
With proper preparation, planting, and care, your beds will take off! Now let’s get down to the fun part – picking flowers!
Top Performers for Flower Beds and Borders
Here are some of the best options that offer beauty and reliability:
- Black Eyed Susan
- Coral Bells
- Lily of the Valley
Part Sun Perennials
- Bleeding Heart
- Cardinal Flower
- Coral Bells
Annuals and Tender Bulbs
- Sun Patiens
- Wax Begonia
- Elephant Ear
- Fountain Grass
- Maiden Grass
- Feather Reed Grass
- Blue Fescue
- Ribbon Grass
Extend Seasonal Interest
A common gardening pitfall is having beds that peak in spring and summer and then fade. Try these plants for late and early season appeal:
- Anise Hyssop
- Ornamental grasses
- Sedum seed heads
- Rudbeckia stems
- Echinacea cones
Early Spring Blooms
- Bleeding Hearts
Design Inspiring Flower Bed Shapes
Beyond traditional rectangles, consider these creative shapes and edge designs:
- Freeform ‘kidney bean’
- Contoured island beds
- Oval or round
- Serpentine curve
- Whimsical cutouts
- Inset stepping stones
- Collections of potted plants
- Low boxwood hedges
- Lettuce leaf-edging plants
Don’t be afraid to get creative with shapes and textures for a unique garden flair.
Must-Have Tools for Planting and Maintaining Flower Beds
Equip your flower gardens for success with these gardener-recommended tools:
Bypass Pruner – Makes clean cuts on stems when shaping beds or harvesting flowers.
Action Hoe – Shallow blade cleanly slices weeds off at soil level.
Ergonomic Hand Trowel – Comfort grip eases digging and transplanting.
Garden Fork – Loosens soil with minimal disruption to plant roots.
Watering Can – Gentle spot watering for seedlings and delicate perennials.
Soil Knife – Slices cleanly into the soil to take soil samples or divide clumps.
Garden Kneeler – A portable foam kneeler protects knees during close-up tasks.
Weed Popper – A handheld tool pulls weeds by the roots without bending over.
Soft-Tie Plant Ties – Secures tall plants to stakes without damaging stems.
Gardening Gloves – Quality leather gloves withstand rough and sharp debris.
Maintaining Flower Beds Through the Seasons
Keep your beds blooming with simple seasonal maintenance:
Spring – Cut back dead stalks and foliage. Refresh mulch. Divide and transplant overgrown plants.
Summer – Water 1-2″ per week. Stake tall plants. Deadhead spent blooms. Shear leggy annuals for reflush. Watch for pests and diseases.
Autumn – Continue deadheading. Leave seed heads for winter interest. Plant spring bulbs among fading perennials.
Winter – Mulch tender plants. Clean up fallen leaves and debris. Prune back dieback but leave most for insulation.
Regular weeding and deadheading are musts year-round. With some easy TLC, your beds will thrive season after season.
Seeking Professional Landscaping Services?
While DIY flower beds are very rewarding, they also require quite a time investment. If you are looking for a full-service gardening crew that can handle all your garden needs then you have to make contact with Letitia Bruwer Landscapers.