12 steps to the ideal flower bed
12 steps to the ideal flower bed
Do you dream of a colorful flowerbed? Here is a guide in 12 steps from planning, preparing, selecting and designing to planting an ever-blooming flower bed.
Do you also dream of a flower bed in which flowers bloom all summer and the colors are coordinated? This idea doesn’t have to remain a dream, because with a little planning you can create a flower bed like something out of a gardening book.
Step 1 – first thoughts
Before you get down to work in the garden, you should come up with some thoughts and a plan. Because with spontaneous plantings after a visit to the nursery, there are certainly many beautiful flowers in your bed, but the overall picture often looks restless and inconsistent. A harmonious picture results if you limit yourself to a few plant species and the eye can rest on larger areas with the same plants. As a rule of thumb, no more than five different types of plants should grow on 10 square meters, but several specimens of one type. You will achieve the best effect if you plant an odd number of plants, i.e. three or five perennials of a type and the spacing between the plants vary.
In beds in which you limit yourself to two or three types of plants, you can achieve a natural character if you distribute these randomly in the bed.
Step 2 – location, shape and soil condition of the bed
Note the location of your planned flowerbed. Depending on whether it is a sunny, partially shaded or shady bed, this restricts the choice of plants. The same applies to the nature of the soil. Also make sure not to place plants that are not growing vigorously next to tender ones, as the latter cannot assert themselves next to these neighbors.
If you are creating a completely new bed, you can use the garden hose to “draw” the outline of new beds in the garden so that you can better imagine the size and shape. Look at the planned bed from every side in the garden and consider whether you can reach all plants from the edge of the bed or whether you need stepping stones or a small path in the bed.
Step 3 – The Plan
The best thing to do is to draw the outline of your bed on a piece of paper. The bed does not have to be drawn to scale, but the proportions should be roughly right. Now you can draw in the different groups of plants that you would like to have in your bed. You can shape your future garden style simply by arranging the plants. If you have a formal garden, the groups of plants should be arranged in geometric shapes. Elongated formations add depth to the bed, while planting in wings looks playful. Circular groups of various sizes that can be combined with one another are also popular. The colors of the flowers also determine your garden style. Combinations with pink, white and blue look romantic. The groups of plants should not be rigidly demarcated from one another, but rather form a smooth transition. When you have drawn in the planting areas, color them in the colors of the planned flower colors so that you can imagine the effect of your bedding.
Step 4 – Establish guide plants, accompanying perennials and filler plants
Drawing a plan is pretty easy once you know which plants to put in the bed. But it is precisely this question that is difficult to answer. A tried and tested standard rule is that tall shrubs grow in the back of the bed, medium perennials in the middle and low plants in the front form the end of the bed. With this arrangement, bare stems are covered, all flowers are clearly visible and the view is directed to the tall perennials, the so-called splendid perennials.
Guide plants When planning your bed, start with the guide plants. These are mostly the large splendid perennials, such as delphinium, water dost, astilbe, grasses, torch lilies and many more. These are usually placed in the back of the bed at irregular intervals. These large perennials attract the most looks, the other plants are subordinate to them and help them make their grand entrance. How much the leading perennials shape the bed depends on how many and where they are in the bed.
Medium-high plants Medium-high plants characterize the middle part of a bed. Low and medium-high perennials are suitable for this area of the bed. The shape of the flowers and their colors should be adapted to the leading perennials. Examples of accompanying plants are stonecrop, yarrow, maiden’s eye, daylilies, ornamental sage, splendid slits, daisies or the purple coneflower.
Filling plants Filling plants are ground cover or low perennials that fill the space between the accompanying and magnificent perennials. These form the background against which the others can play with their blossoms. Hence, they shouldn’t be very dominant. They usually have small, delicate flowers or decorative foliage. Catnip, cranesbill, elf flower, bergenia, lady’s mantle or the low gypsophila are tried and tested as filling plants. They are planted in large numbers and usually form the border.
Tip: You can also give the bed a boost if you mess up the order from low to high with the round flowers of the globular leek. The balls seem to float above the bed without obscuring the design of the bed.
Step 5 – note the flowering times
But not only the height of the perennials, the shape and color of the flowers should be coordinated. When choosing the plants for your flower bed, the flowering time of the respective perennials or bulb flowers is also important, so that flowers bloom in the garden throughout the entire gardening season. Here is a small selection of flowers sorted according to the flowering time as a suggestion.
Spring bloomers Typical spring bloomers are the onion flowers, such as crocuses, winter lumps, snowdrops, grape hyacinths, tulips or spring cups. The advantage of bulb flowers is that their leaves move in after flowering and their place is taken up by other plants. In addition to the onion flowers, there are also a number of beautiful, early-blooming perennials, such as columbines, bergenias, blue pillows or forget-me-nots. You can find a list of early flowering perennials here.
Summer bloomers The list of perennials that bloom in summer is long. Beautiful examples are roses, dahlias, bellflower, coneflower, rudbeckia, ornamental sage, phlox or gladiolus. You can find more examples of perennials that bloom in summer here.
Autumn bloomers Many of the summer flowers bloom into autumn, such as the dahlias, or bloom in summer or autumn depending on the variety. Other examples of flowers that bloom in autumn are autumn asters, sedum plants, chrysanthemums and the autumn anemones. Grasses also look particularly beautiful in autumn and winter and should therefore not be missing in any flowerbed.
Step 6 – fill in the gaps
The leaves of some perennials such as the bleeding heart, columbines or poppies move in after flowering. Plant them in the back of the bed so that the gaps that result are not noticeable. You shouldn’t have large numbers of these plants in your bed because of their short flowering times. To hide the gaps, either surround them with ground cover or place perennials in front of them that will bloom in the fall.
Step 7 – Pay attention to permanent bloomers
Variety is good, but consistency is also important. So that something always blooms in the bed, there should always be at least one permanently blooming plant species in the bed. Plant examples are the autumn anemone or the catnip. Roses that bloom more often should not be missing in a bed that will bloom continuously. You can find more ideas here.
Step 8 – Include shrubs
In addition to bulb flowers and perennials, shrubs and bushes are also an important part of a continuous flowering bed. On the one hand, shrubs that bloom early, such as winter forsythia, can start the flowering of flowers in early spring. On the other hand, evergreen small shrubs, such as boxwood, but also evergreen perennials, such as the purple bells, are important as eye-catchers for the bed in winter.
Step 9 – Create a shopping list
When you know which plants you want in your bed, you need to work out how many plants to buy. This depends on the one hand on the expected final size of the plants and on the other hand on your patience and how long you want to wait until the plants are large. You can place ground cover plants or plants of one variety closer together so that they form a closed plant cover more quickly. Large perennials need more space to develop well. As a rule of thumb, you need two to three leading perennials, four to six medium-high perennials and nine to 12 low perennials per square meter.
Step 10 – Prepare the bed
Before you put the first plant in your bed, you have to prepare the soil well. That means digging up, removing stones and wild herbs and generously incorporating compost. Then smooth the earth with the rake – now the new plants can come.
Step 11 – Spread the plants on the bed
When the bed has been prepared and the plants have been bought, the plants in the top are distributed on the bed according to the plan. It will be easier for yourself if you mark the outlines of the planting areas on the ground with a string or a stick. Before you plant the plants, check the effect of the plants in the bed again. Now you can easily make corrections and rearrange plants until you are satisfied with the result.
Step 12 – After Planting
When the plants are in the ground, water them well. A watering edge around the newly planted plants is recommended. In the next three to four weeks, the newly created bed should be well watered once a week, and more often in dry weather. In the first one to two years you should also pull weeds regularly so that the young perennials do not grow too strong competition from wild herbs. In the first winter, covering with brushwood or leaves is recommended.
You can put annual summer flowers in the gaps until the young perennials have grown together to form a closed blanket and the bed is weed-free.
These garden ideas were written by the Freudengarten editorial team.
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Do you dream of a colorful blooming flower bed? Here is a guide in 12 steps from planning, preparing, selecting and designing to planting an ever-blooming flower bed.