Donna Hackman, retired garden designer, recommends that if you want your flowers to spill over in a natural way, but don’t want them within reach of the mower’s blades, install rectangles of flagstone around the beds. Also, keep paths between flower beds wide, so flowers won’t be trampled underfoot when walking through the garden. Hackman also suggests choosing smaller cultivars to reduce pruning work and planting shrubs at the center of your flower beds to provide year-round structure. May 13, 2020 Use a shovel to remove a section of grass from the center of your planned bed, then continue to remove turf by wedging the shovel (a hoe also works) under the edges of the grass. Then lift and peel the sod away. Once you have removed the grass, you can prepare the soil for planting. Make a flower bed without digging. Highlight its beauty by adding a ringlet flower bed filled with clusters of perennials, annuals, and evergreens. Perennials thrive in environments where both sun and shade go together. You have the option to add pavers as edges or natural stones. Or if you may place potted succulents or evergreens as edge on a tree ringlet to give it more charm.
There are not many free online 3D garden planners available, but for you, we have found them! Three-dimensional planners allow you to view your design as it will look in reality rather than as a 'flat' rendition, although often you will put the plan together in a 2D view, before switching to a 3D view to see what it will look like, because rendering the design in 3D takes a lot of memory and will slow the software down significantly. If you prefer to work in a downloadable software planner that can be used offline, you should check our collection of garden planner downloads.
Unless you're striving for the sort of wild, chaotic look that typifies English cottage gardens, it's a good idea to have a color scheme in mind when planting flower beds. The color scheme in our sample flower bed is created with plants with blue, purple, and gold flowers. Also consider the. Space your flowers out so that the tulips stand taller than your shorter, low-growing annuals and perennials. Your tulips will return for several years when winters are cold, but may not survive when grown in warmer, moist climates. This stunning flower bed has a unique blend of red and yellow tulips.
Yates garden planner
The Yates Virtual Garden free online planner has an extensive catalogue of items to be used in your design, from flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs to sheds, benches and tables and even includes fountains and ponds. The design elements come with articles and expert advice to help you get the best from each item, and helpful tips as well.
BBC Virtual Garden 3D
The BBC Virtual Garden is a beautiful 3D garden planner that enables you to create the landscape for your new dream garden, placing the various elements as you want them and then displaying the result in three-dimensions to see how it should look in reality. This online 3D planner is not only free, it can be used without even registering on the site!
Marshalls garden planner
Marshalls' Garden Visualiser does exactly what it says – it is a sophisticated tool that enables you to see for yourself what your dream garden will look like when it is finished. The catalogue includes a wide selection of different paving and wall options as well as all the standard plant and furniture items, and allows you to create custom sets of less common things like steps and pillars as well – you can even add a representation of your actual house to see how it goes with the design.
MegaWood 3D Terrace Planner
A convenient-to-use online terrace planner, MegaWood makes it easy to create your dream terrace. Enter the measurements and shape of your space, including where it meets the walls of your home, and then you can use the extensive range of wooden flooring options and matching furniture to get your perfect design. Finally, with one click, you can view the design in 3D.
3D garden planning tools
These free online 3D garden planners are a great help in bringing your dream garden plan to life, but if you prefer to work offline you should look at our collection of downloadable software planners that work entirely on your own computer.
Wanted – 3D online garden planners
Have you found another good free online 3D garden planner that you recommend? Or perhaps you have uploaded one to the internet yourself? If so, send us details and a link via our contact form and we will look at adding it to our collection.
This article will cover the basics types of garden beds and plant layout.
Gardens should always be considered highly personal works of art. As in any kind of art, taste will vary greatly with every person having a different opinion of what constitutes beauty. I think understanding basic design principles, is important for two reasons. First, if you know the rules you can break them in an intelligent way. Second, it helps give you a comfort level that what you design won't be a complete disaster. However, in the end the only thing that really matters is that you love your garden - your opinion is the most important one.
There are two basic types of garden beds; island beds and borders and two basic styles of gardens; formal and informal. We will start by covering the two types of beds and then move onto the two styles.
A border is anchored by a backdrop and I think these beds are easier to visualize than island beds, at least for me, since the background will help define the size of your new bed. The backdrop might be a house, a hedge row, a fence, or anything else that gives you a fairly solid background. Borders are viewed from only one side.
A flower border is generally, but not always, long and narrow. How deep your bed needs to be will partially depend on how long the bed is. The proportions of the bed are important. A short bed doesn't need to be as deep, a 3 foot by 8 foot bed will look right at home. A longer bed will need more depth, if possible. A 12 foot by 100 foot bed will look proportional.
Most home gardens are more likely to have beds that fall between 5 and 50 feet long. In this case depth should range between 3 and 6 to 8 feet deep. Any bed that is deeper than 4 feet (you can only reach so far) will need to have access to the interior of the bed for weeding and other maintenance purposes. Paths or stepping stones are common ways to provide access. Here are some examples of borders:
The photo on the left shows a narrow border at the Missouri Botanic Garden, in the center is a border along my front porch, and on the right is a great orange-toned border.
Island beds, on the other hand, are not anchored by a backdrop and can be viewed from all sides. They often have a center anchor. This anchor isn't necessarily right in the middle. It can be offset to one side for an asymmetrical look. Center anchors can be anything from a tree, shrub or large perennial to a piece of statuary or a large container, even a bench or trellis/arbor can work as a center anchor.
Island beds tend to be more round, square, rectangular or amorphous. They are rarely long and skinny. As with borders, their length and width needs to be somewhat proportional, so longer beds need to also be wider. Island beds can be small, a mailbox planting for instance, but are more often large. Since island beds can be reached from all sides; only beds larger than 6 to 8 feet across will need access for maintenance. Here are some examples of island beds:
The photo on the left shows an island bed with a tree as the anchor, the structure on the right is open so you can see this bed from all sides. The photo was taken at the Boerner Botanic Garden in Hales Corner, Wisconsin; a great garden if you get a chance to visit. In the center is a butterfly wing shaped bed taken at the Michigan State Children's Garden. The photo on the right shows a series of small island beds that use mailboxes as their anchor. The photo was taken at the Missouri Botanic Garden.
In general, plants in borders are arranged with tall plants (taller than 2 to 3 feet) placed in the back, mid-size plants (10 inches to 2 to 3 feet tall) in the middle, and short plants (less than 10 inches) in the front of the bed. It is best to use groupings or drifts of plants for a natural feel. Look at the border planting plan below. Tall plants are in brown, medium-tall plants are in blue, medium-short plants are in teal, and short plants are in dark green. Note that the plants are grouped rather than in rows.
Help Me Plan My Flower Bed
The other thing to consider when planning your plant placement is that it is often best to use groupings of at least 3 of the same plant together. One plant alone often does not have enough impact, where a grouping of 3, 5, 7 or more will have good impact. Odd numbers tend to look better than even numbers. This is especially true of smaller plants where groups are necessary to have impact. Short plants can be used in long narrow plantings to create borders on the edge of a bed.
There is an exception to the plant 3 or more plants rule. In general, if a plant is large enough, think shrubs or large perennials, it can hold it's own without being grouped with other plants. Usually, only back of the border plants can stand alone. Scroll back up to see photos of borders.
Island beds work on the same principles as borders, but rather than having the taller plants in the back. The taller plants are in the middle of the bed or centered on the anchor plant. In the design below, the bright blue dot is the anchor, the brown are the tall plants, the pink are the medium plants, and the dark blue are the short plants.
You will note that the plants are grouped in drifts with the taller plants in the middle of the bed and then getting progressively shorter as you get toward the edge. Your design doesn't need to be rigid, you can see above that some medium sized plants come to the edge of the bed and some short plants are right next to tall plants. The tall to short progression is simply a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule. Scroll back up to see photos of island beds.
Let's talk now about the two styles of garden. Gardens generally are either formal or informal. Formal gardens tend to use distinct geometric shapes for their layout; circles, rectangles, triangles or long straight lines. Plant spacing, color, and layout are all very precise. Here are some examples of formal gardens:
On the left is a circle knot garden, in the center is a formal garden with lots of color, but very geometric shapes, and on the right is a formal garden with a clipped boxwood hedge to create the form of the beds. All of these photos were taken at the Missouri Botanic Garden.
Informal gardens tend to use curves and free flowing forms. The color combinations are more relaxed and varying plant heights will mingle together. I think most home gardens tend to be this type. Here are some examples of informal gardens:
How To Plan Flower Bed
The photo on the left is from the Ball Seed Company garden in West Chicago, Illinois and shows, more or less, a wildflower meadow. The center photo is from the Boerner Botanic Garden and shows a curving walkway bordered by colorful plantings. The photo on the right is from The Champaign County (Illinois) Master Gardener Demonstration Garden and shows a great informal garden using bright colors.
Learning the types and styles of gardens and the general principles of plant placement will help you design gardens for your own home. To learn about using color in your garden click here. Of course, once you design a bed you have to actually dig and prepare it. For more information on actually preparing your bed for planting, click here.
Flower Bed Plans And Layouts
*Planting plans developed by the University of Missouri Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program.