Experienced flower garden designers take several key steps when developing designs for their borders. First, they unceremoniously remove anything that doesn’t suit their design goals.
At first, they assess sunlight and soil conditions before placing plants according to height, with taller ones in the back and shorter ones up front.
Measure the Space
Accurate measurements are key when it comes to creating the perfect garden. To make sure there’s enough space for your flowers, sketch a rough diagram of the space you intend to cultivate noting any existing features such as paths or retaining walls.
Knowing the mature size of plants is also key in designing an appropriate flower garden design. If you don’t know their exact measurements, use the on-center spacing recommendations in this chart as a rough estimate of size.
Once you have your measurements and rough sketch completed, walk around your proposed flower garden to gauge its impact on the surrounding landscape. For instance, it may be beneficial to situate it near a water source like a pond or pool in order to save yourself the hassle of carrying heavy watering cans or hoses around.
However, you should avoid planting too close to paths or fences as this makes your garden harder to navigate and could result in damaged or pulled plants. A wide path between flower beds is ideal so you won’t accidentally step on any flowers while walking through.
Consider the Height of the Plants
Patchworks of plants don’t make for the most pleasing flower gardens; expert gardeners know to repeat plant types throughout their beds to achieve an integrated appearance, choosing flowers of various heights for visual interest and fullness.
Tall plants should be placed at the back of a garden bed, while shorter ones in front — except those with delicate sprays or tops that cannot withstand being stepped on by mowing equipment, which should be placed closer to the middle. Experienced gardeners also consider flower color and bloom time so their gardens remain vibrant year round.
Peonies and tulips, perennials with long blooming periods, can be combined with annuals that provide fall and summer colors (zinnias and impatiens). Garden designer Piet Oudolf suggests selecting flower shapes that complement each other to achieve desired effects.
Think About the Color Palette
Color choices in a flower garden can have an enormous effect on its overall style. Experienced garden designers often rely on color wheels as an aid when pairing plants and creating balanced color schemes.
Contrast between complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) can provide striking visual interest and draw the eye. They’re particularly suitable for plants that bloom at different times throughout the season, providing plenty of color throughout.
Analogous colors (those located next to one another on the color wheel) tend to blend more seamlessly together and reduce visual impact, providing elegant yet relaxing combinations or vibrantly energetic ones, depending on which side of the color wheel they fall on.
Monochromatic color schemes use one hue with all its tints, tones, and shades as part of its palette. They’re easy to create and pair well with plants with diverse textures and growth habits – such as pink Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum) or blue delphiniums (Delphinium purpurascens). White flowers such as moonflower or night-blooming jasmine make good options when selecting monochromatic hues.
Create a Focal Point
Focal points draw the eye to one specific part of your garden. From flowers to hardscape features such as arbors or pergolas, focal points should draw people’s attention toward an area. Too many focal points, however, could overwhelm the space around them and become competing elements competing for consideration.
Focus points should look good year-round, which is why experienced flower garden designers include an assortment of plants with staggered bloom times and color combinations in the design of focal points.
If you want your garden to always feel lush and full, try implementing hardscape features, such as trellises or pergolas, that allow for additional flower planting up to the window sill. Or add an attractive, colorful urn or bench near a path or stairs so your guests are welcomed as they enter from outside or from their yard.