The options are endless when it comes to designing a flower garden. With the swath of flowers available these days in stores and online, it can be quite overwhelming to decide which flowers to plant. Before you start buying or get the digging spade or garden auger out, take some time to sit down and come up with a garden design plan.
Design by Flower Color
In the flower world, color is everything. So many shades of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, white, and yellow to brighten your flower bed. Try picking a color scheme for your garden that expresses your individuality. Will it be all purple flowers? Or exclusively red, white, and blue flowers? Or big clumps of multi-colored flowers randomly arrayed about? Or a muted arrangement of colors with several spots designed to pop? For inspiration, look at a color wheel to see what colors go best together.
Garden Design By Flower Type
Flowers can be planted by bulb or seed. Tulips, lilies, daffodils, and hyacinth are all bulb flower types. Wildflowers are always from seed. Seed varieties will need to be planted new every year (unless you let the flowers go to seed) while bulb varieties last many years. Some bulb varieties will be more work if you live in a cool climate because they need to be dug up every winter before the ground freezes. Other flower bulbs need the cold freeze in order to induce growing and will need to be chilled artificially in warmer climates.
Another way to design by flower type is to plant all the same flowers. For example, a flower bed entirely composed of lilies. There are over 800 types of lilies to choose from, all with different colors and patterns, which would make for an intriguing garden design.
Garden Design by Flower Size
A garden that features flowers all the same height isn’t as visually interesting as one that has height and depth variations. There are flowers that grow 2-3′ tall and others that are only a few inches tall. The small ground cover flowers, like lilyturf or moss phlox, are great for filling in spaces in the front and drawing the observer in.
Flower buds also come in different shapes: buttons, daisies, globes, spires, and plumes, to name a few. A combination of these will add depth and interest to the flower bed too. If all the flowers have the same shape, the garden will look flat even if it has a wide variety of colors.
Design by Flower Bloom
The time it takes for a flower to go from seedling to bud to flower is as varied as the types of flowers themselves. Most wildflowers take 45-60 days. Tulips may not bloom the first year at all. For a more enjoyable and visually appealing garden, plant flowers that have different bloom times. They don’t all have to be different but diversity is best.
Although it is stunning to see varied and colorful flowers all blooming at the same time, it means they will likely all die at the same time too and then the blooms for the year are done. Plan three successive blooms, if possible: the spring blooms, summer blooms, and fall blooms. The bees and butterflies also appreciate having food sources on a consistent basis.
Best Garden Design Practices
1. Choose a focal point. Whether this is a type of flower, a shrub, or a wooden resting bench, the flower bed design should draw a persons’ eyes to the central point.
2. Arrange the flower sizes shortest to tallest so the small ones don’t get obscured.
3. Start off small: 6-10 flower varieties are more than enough for a beginning garden. Every year, you can add new ones to enhance it, make it fresh and be innovative.
4. Include flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year so your flower garden continuously has blooms.
5. Have backups! It happens on occasion that some seeds or bulbs don’t produce flowers as you planned. Write down a few backup flower ideas so you don’t have to scramble in the middle of the season to replace any unsuccessful plants.
6. Plant at least 3 of each type of flower so it can be easily seen in the garden. Single plantings may end up looking sparse or lacking in cohesiveness.
7. Don’t be shy about incorporating other design elements into your garden besides flowers. For example, pottery, fountains, stonework, or wooden structures.
8. Depending on the size of the flower garden, you may need to arrange a path through the middle or out to the sides so you can access all your beautiful blooms.
9. Consider the pollinators in your area. What flowers do the bees like? Plant for them too!
The number one piece of advice to starting a flower garden is to have fun! Be creative without overwhelming yourself. It’s ok to start small and it’s ok not to have it perfect the first time around. Those to-die-for gorgeous gardens you see around town took years if not decades to build. Patience is rewarded with stunning displays.
Bonus Tip! – If you don’t like to spend hours hunched over planting your bulbs, consider using one of these flower bulb augers attached to your drill to make planting significantly easier!
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