How to Design Flower Beds with Annuals


How you design a flower bed depends on the location of the garden. Flower gardens should complement the home landscape and incorporate similar colors to create harmony in the landscape. Annual flowers provide immediate color with sturdy blooms and bright foliage. These plants add dramatic color in the landscape and provide interest in a boring landscape.

Step 1

Determine the growing conditions in the flower bed. Check the sun exposure for the planned area over the course of the day. Nurseries group plants according to full sun, partial sun/shade and shade growing requirements. Shade annual plants prefer reflective or filtered indirect sunlight. Partial sun/shade annuals need no more than two to four hours of light daily. Full sun plants tolerate complete exposure in bright sunny locations.

Step 2

Sketch out your garden as close to scale as possible on paper. Planning ahead with a measured drawing will eliminate the purchase of too few or excess plants for the garden space.

Step 3

Collect soil samples to test the quality of the garden soil. Garden centers sell home tests kits for a general evaluation of soil quality. University cooperative extension services or some nurseries will perform a soil evaluation for a reasonable fee. The results of this test will provide exact information on required soil amendments. Annual flower beds should be cultivated completely and amended with organic material before planting. Build the cost of amendments into your overall flower bed budget.

Step 4

Determine the available views of the flower bed based on the planned shape. Gardens placed against a structure as a border garden have one basic viewing field. Centered or rounded annual gardens will be viewed from every side. Analyzing the view will help you decide on plant placement. Centered gardens generally require symmetrical plant placement for balance. Work from front to back in a border garden with the tallest plants in the rear portions of the flower bed.

Step 5

Select a color scheme for the flower bed that doesn't detract from nearby structures or other landscape features. Monochrome annual gardens provide stunning effect with a single color. The North Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Services suggests that designs should pair cool colors or warm colors for a pleasing effect. Cool colors include blue, green and purple while warmer colors are yellow, orange and red. Mixing warm and cool colors provide contrast that can overpower in a single flower bed. Select one to two colors for smaller gardens and no more than three colors for large spaces.

Step 6

Plan the spacing of the annual garden. Each annual plant comes with a recommendation label with growing requirements that include plant spacing needs. Annual plants look best when planted in groups of three plants to create visual impact. Plan to space these small groupings about 4 to 6 inches apart with a triangular placement.

Step 7

Lay out the annual plant arrangements on your drawing design. Draw annual plant grouping and allow 8 to 12 inches between groups for growing room. Count the number of individual annual plants to determine how many specimens you'll need to purchase from the nursery.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Soil test kit


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Annual Bedding Plants
  • North Dakota State University: Flower Bed Planning

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Annual Plant Listing by Common Name
  • Annual Flower Care
Keywords: annual garden design, designing annual beds, annual flower beds

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.