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How to Design a Perennial Flower Bed

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017

Gardeners have a wealth of choices when it comes to choosing perennials to add to a flower bed design. One of the most important things about working with perennials is they either will last throughout the next year or will come back by reseeding or sprouting again in springtime. Designing a perennial flower bed is not difficult. The best thing you can do is get to know the plants you are interested in adding to the garden. Knowing their growth habits and requirements will ensure your perennial garden is a success.

Consider the look you are trying to achieve when designing your perennial flower bed. Perennial designs include gardens that have a country cottage look, ta ropical feel or a natural look using native wildflowers. This will help you decide where to place plants and what type you require.

Figure out how much space your planting area encompasses. That allows you to calculate how much space you have to place your plants and how many plants will be required to fill the garden and not be overcrowded.

Consider the amount of light the planting site receives during the day. Choose plants that will tolerate to the light conditions. For instance, do not plant perennials that prefer living in shade in an area that receives full sunlight.

Plant perennials with the same requirements grouped together in the flower bed. Placing a plant with high water needs next to plant that prefers dryer soil eventually can result in one or both plants dying off.

Research the particular plants you desire to add to the perennial flower bed. Get to know their growth requirements, height, width and special needs plants might have. This will help you place plants appropriately into the bed, giving it a uniform look. Place plants that will require lots of care in a place with easy access.

Stagger the plants according to height. Place tall perennials, such as blazing star, which can reach a height of 2 feet, in the back. Place medium-height and dense-growing perennials, such as rudbeckia or bee balm, in the center. Place ground covers or free-flowing flowers, such as cosmos or blue daze, in the front. This will give the garden a more balanced look and better flow.

Consider the blooming season of the perennials you want to plant. Combining plants that have various seasons of blooming will ensure the garden is colorful throughout the entire year. Use perennials that will bloom in the spring, summer and fall.


Things You Will Need

  • Perennial plant guide

About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.