Flower beds are an easy way to increase curb appeal and make your home more welcoming. With a well thought-out garden design, it doesn’t have to be a lot of work, and you can have continual color and interest all year long. I’m going too show you my garden design plan and why I came to my decisions, plus how to plant a new flower bed.

5 garden design tips

*Disclosure: Veseys seeds sent me bulbs and plants for my garden, which I will link to throughout this post. The rest of the plants and shrubs I got from local garden centres, plus from “shopping” in my mother-in-law’s garden. If you know someone with an established garden and is willing to give you some perennials, you have a great head start!*

1. Make a plan

I thought all winter long what types of plants and shrubs I wanted to have in my garden. I have learned a lot about gardening by trial and error at each of our previous homes, but I’ve also gleaned a fair bit of information from my friend IRL Erin, who owns her own garden design and landscape business (Create It Landscaping). This is the garden design plan that I came up with for my flower bed.

Top tips for designing and planting a low maintenance perennial garden bed I’m first going to show you how I planted my new garden, then get into some of my design tips and the reasons why I chose the plants that I did.

2. Remove existing sod

Once you have a plan that you’re happy with you can get your garden ready for planting. Here is our house in the very early spring. This was one of the first nice days this spring and I was just itching to get outside and to start digging. I worked off my plan and removed all the sod in the areas I wanted to plant. I dug down about 3 or 4 inches just to remove the top layer of grass.

plan a garden

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

3. Add garden soil

Once I removed all the sod, we got a few loads of garden soil to fill it back up. I wanted the garden to be just slightly higher than the rest of the lawn to allow for proper water runoff.

plan a garden garden planning

4. Plant your shrubs and perennials

Plant away from the foundation about 18 inches. This allows more moisture and air flow to get to the plants. Dig a small hole where you want your plant to go, plop it in, and pack the soil around it.

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

5. Water, weed, and fertilize

After the plants are in the ground, water them well for a few days, and then occasionally all summer. I also threw on some slow release fertilizer to give the roots some extra help. If you want you can add a thick layer of mulch to keep the weeds down, but otherwise just pull the weeds as they come up.

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

Now here are my five top tips for coming up with a great garden design:

1. Add color all summer long

I wanted to have blocks of color throughout the season, so I chose plants depending on their flower color and bloom time:

  • April (Yellow, pink, purple) – spring flowering bulbs that I don’t have yet but will plant in the fall
  • May (Purple) – I bought a really cool dwarf lilac shrub that’s supposed to bloom multiple times a summer, called Bloomerang Lilac. I’ve never seen that before and was curious if it was true! I also got some Bing Bang Boom allium bulbs, and a few different irises including the Beautiful Blue Eyes iris.

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

  • June flowering plants include a pink peony and pink and white mixed astilbe. I also have several hosta which get a small purple flower in June. Towards the end of June my Japanese Lilac tree will bloom with white wispy flowers.
  • July (yellows and pinks) – can you get a sense of what colors I like? A mix of pinks, purples and yellows are my favorite colors. For the late summer I have multiple colors of daylillies, and a Banana Cream shasta daisy, which is supposed to get a yellow flower.
  • August (maroon) – And then towards the end of the summer and into September is red flowering plants, including Jose Aubergine sedum and a deep pink hydrangea.

plan a garden for a perennial flower bed

2. Include plants for winter interest

It’s a good idea to add an evergreen shrub in your garden design to give some interest in the winter. I love the variegated leaf of euonymus, so that’s what I chose in my garden. I also planted some ornamental grasses, including red switch grass and blue dune lyme grass. If you wait until the spring to prune the grasses, it gives some nice interest in the winter with the tall grass plumes.

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

3. Add a variety of foliage colors

I usually like to have multiple different types of foliage colors and textures, including dark green, lime green, blue tones, and red. I didn’t follow my own advice very well, but I think next year if I find some space I’ll add a few more plants with red leaves.  My favorite low maintenance plants and shrubs with deep red leaves include Heuchera (coral bells), Barberry shrub, and Purple Leaf Sandcherry.

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design

4. Plant in odd numbers

Whenever possible I also planted in groups of three. This adds repetition and cohesion. For the remaining plants, I just planted one of each.

plan a perennial flower garden

5. Have one statement plant

I included one statement piece, a Japanese Lilac tree, with is meant to be the focal point of the garden.  I’m still not sure if I picked the right tree or not, because apparently this tree gets pretty big. Has anyone used one of these trees in their front flower bed so close to your house? What is your experience? I’d love to know, so if I need to I can move it before the roots get too big! Do you have any other garden design tips? What are some of your favorite low maintenance perennials?

tips for planning and creating a new perennial flower bed tips for beautiful garden design


3 thoughts on “The best tips for designing and planting a low maintenance flower bed”

  1. I am envious of all the rich dirt. We just don’t have great dirt like that for our gardens here. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma’s House We Go!

  2. Looks great. You put a lot of hard work into this project but it looks so worthwhile. You deserve a gold star!! Now don’t forget to cover the soil with mulch to protect your plants and to prevent hard rains from splattering that black soil on your walls. The mulch will also help to keep down weeds. ( I say “help” as you will need to pull weeds from time to time. But please, after all your hard work, get the mulch!

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