Rectangle Flower Bed Ideas
If your vision of the ideal landscape tends toward crisp, straight lines and geometric shapes, you may want to emphasize a rectangle-shaped flower bed design. The design and size of these beds will depend on your preferences, climate, sun exposure, what you plan to grow, and the surrounding landscape.
Before making any decisions on your way to creating a beautiful garden, do some research. Look at gardens and peruse the internet for exciting landscape ideas and to see what types of flowers you might want.
Plan and Research
Yes, you can limit your garden design research to the internet, taking in gorgeous photo after gorgeous photo and reading blogs and lists of plants, but sometimes the library is also a great option. Take some books home, relax on your couch, and soak up the pix. What do you like? What landscape design talks to you?
You can also visit gardens in your area for flower garden ideas. Most cities have a university extension office that can be a helpful resource in identifying local gardens. You might also find local gardening clubs or events that tour gardens.
With an eye toward the symmetry provided by a rectangular garden bed, take notes about the types of plants you like, the material the beds are made of and the flowers that are planted in them.
Garden Bed Materials and Design
After you have a feel for your preferences, it’s time to move past the vision stage and start to plan. What will you make your garden beds from, how big will they be and where will they go?
Most rectangular garden beds are constructed from wood, either cedar or redwood. Don’t use treated wood, as it can introduce toxins into the soil.
Avoid using old railroad ties or any treated lumber for constructing garden beds, as the chemicals can leach into the soil and damage the plants.
You aren’t limited to wood. Almost anything can be used to support a raised bed, such as concrete blocks, bricks, plastic or resin blocks or steel, usually available as corrugated.
Your choice depends on your budget and how you think the material will look in your landscape.
Placement: Consider the placement of the beds. In a home garden, a flower bed might be against a fence, along one side of your house or outbuilding or bordering a walkway. If you have a large yard, you could use rectangular flower beds to separate your yard into “garden rooms,” avoiding the visual boredom of an expanse of lawn evenly lined by a fence and plants on all sides.
Don’t place a bed directly against a wood fence or the siding of your house, as this can result in rot if the soil comes in contact with the wood.
Size: As for the size, decide how large the beds should be. In most home gardens, especially those with a small space, garden border beds from 2 to 3 feet wide make the most sense. You need to be able to access the bed to care for the plants, so avoid making it so wide that you have to walk into it.
On the other hand, traditional English perennial beds were quite large, usually 6 to 8 feet wide, to accommodate an enormous array of shrubs, perennials and annuals. In this case, you might place pavers in the bed so you can avoid compacting the soil while tending the plants.
Hardscape: If the beds are quite large, don’t hesitate to add some hardscape, such as bird baths or flower pots containing annuals, which is an effective way to help a bed span the growing season when the perennials are looking tired and spent.
Plants for a Rectangular Garden Bed
Selecting plants for a garden bed is a topic that could, and does, fill books, but here are a few considerations.
Sun or Shade
The first concern is to discern the amount of sun so that you can acquire the right plants for your location. Most plants prefer full sun, but many plants like partial sun, partial shade or even full shade.
You may not need to be concerned with soil texture and type if you are creating raised garden beds that you will fill with purchased soil. Otherwise, plant selection also depends on the type of soil.
Color, Texture and Size
Finally, you select plant color, texture and size. This is the fun part! Most beautiful flower beds are a mixture of perennial flowers and annuals. Perennials have a shorter bloom period but anchor the bed year after year, while annuals might last throughout most of the growing season but have to be replanted yearly.
Larger beds might also incorporate shrubs, especially evergreen shrubs, for year-round appeal.
Creating a Dynamic Flower Bed
While your goal might be a plant bed full of colorful flowers, don’t forget the importance of contrast. Different plants provide not only color but also texture; you might combine large-leaved plants with those that have smaller leaves.
Create a balance of different plants in terms of height. For example, mix taller plants with shorter ones or cascading flowering plants to create visual interest. Add a trellis at the back of the bed for tall plants.
There are other ways you can design a bed. You might want a bed of wildflowers that will attract pollinators. Herb gardens are a great addition, especially if the bed is situated near the kitchen. You might mix ornamental grasses or succulents with flowering plants, which is often an effective strategy.
Don’t forget bulbs, such as daffodils (Narcissus group, zones 4 to 8) and tulips (Tulipa group, zones 3 to 8).
I garden in the Pacific North west, previously Hawaii where I had an avocado orchard. I have a Master Gardeners certificate here in Eugene, Oregon.