How to Design Flower Garden Beds


Once the lawn has been mastered, the trees trimmed and shrubs planted on a new property, gardeners are compelled to think about adding a flower garden, perhaps in beds or borders, to provide color and add interest to their landscape. The best time to begin designing your flower garden is actually when you are planting trees and shrubs on a new property. Those who move into a pre-owned property may need to plan their beds for a mature landscape.

Step 1

Draw your plan to scale using graph paper or with an architect's scale on plain paper; use measurements taken from your plat of survey, or measure the area yourself with a tape measure.

Step 2

Fit your flower bed into its environment. Place it where you can see it to enjoy its blooms and where the flowers will get plenty of sun. Plan gentle curves so you can mow around the bed easily, and leave enough room around the bed for other activity in the yard.

Step 3

Locate beds convenient to storage places for tools and a source of water. Design borders that are narrow enough that you can easily reach the center to pull weeds, and include aisles in garden beds for access.

Step 4

Choose a style: you may want a cluttered cottage garden, but the front yard of your midcentury ranch may be best suited to plantings with more symmetry and structured form. Spend some time looking at other properties similar to yours for ideas.

Step 5

Decide on a color theme and find flowers that fit that theme. Plan colors to complement and contrast, but try not to use so many colors that your bed seems jumbled. Arrange groups of flowers in masses of types or colors.

Step 6

Put tall plants in the back of a border or the center of an island bed. Consider adding an ornamental crab or other tree to provide dappled shade for shade-loving plants, or use tall plants to provide afternoon shade.

Step 7

Fill the bed with perennials that bloom at different times so that there will always be something in bloom. Use annuals to fill spaces until you can purchase perennials or until existing plants grow large enough to divide.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plant your bed with enough space to get between plants to weed and groom plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and pencil
  • Scaled ruler
  • Plat of survey or measuring tape


  • University of Illinois Extension: Designing Flower Beds
  • Arizona Cooperative Extension: Planning the Flower Border
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Low Maintenence Landsc
  • North Dakota State University Extension: Planning the Flower Bed

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University Extension: Flower Bed Planning
  • Yvonne Cunningham: Planning Your Garden Design
Keywords: designing flower gardens, flower garden beds, planning flower borders

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.