27 Unique Flower Bed Ideas for Your Garden
Need some inspiration for your flower beds this season? There are many different ways you can bring creativity to your garden beds this season. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss provides some of her favorite flower bed ideas to keep your garden interesting this year!
The seasons change, and with them, so do the flowers. And so it goes, out with the old and in with the new. A new season is a new opportunity to create something new and beautiful. Or perhaps you have a flower bed that you love, but you’d like to upgrade your edging or add some fun new elements to your garden space.
Whether you like a well-defined, modern look in your garden or you prefer something more whimsical and low maintenance, it’s always helpful to begin a garden project with a plan, which can take many forms.
An inspiration board can help determine a beautiful color palette and textural direction. A photograph of the desired result is a great thing to take along to the nursery to help choose the right elements for the project at hand.
There are so many wonderful and creative uses for found items in the garden and even more opportunities to create outdoor living spaces with flourishing florals and graceful grasses. Here are some inspirational ideas to bring new life to your flower beds and keep your life full of fragrance, fresh air, and possibilities.
The Fairy Garden has become quite popular in recent years, particularly with children. There is a certain magic about fairies that transcends reality and turns a simple flower bed into a tiny woodland escape for the imagination. You don’t have to be a child to enjoy the idea of itty-bitty magical beings in your garden just ask any garden gnome!
Some fun ideas for a fairy garden include either a tiny house or a miniature door that can be attached to the side of a tree or on a fence leading to a neighboring yard. Collect plants that have the appearance of being miniature-sized versions of larger plants or that can be pruned into small tree shapes.
My fairy garden has three fairy sisters who live in a large clay pot and tend to their chickens, just like my own girls do! A string of tiny lights can bring a special enchantment to your fairy garden in the evening.
Secret Flower Garden
You don’t have to have a special, locked courtyard with a long-lost key to create the feel of your very own secret garden. Bamboo makes an excellent barrier to conceal a bed that’s just for you and those with whom you choose to share your secrets.
Or maybe you have a small spot between a window and fence where you often look out and want to transform into a special place.
Any spot that is tucked away and out of view can be turned into a special place to escape to. In an unexpected corner of the yard, or just beyond those trees, there are lots of spaces just right for a secluded oasis. Who you choose to share your secret garden with is entirely up to you!
Al Fresco Dining Area
If you would like to spend more time in your flower garden, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, why not create a dining area amongst your flower beds? Dining al fresco feels luxurious, and it plants you right where you want to be, enjoying the fruits of your labor daily if you so choose.
My outdoor dining area is on a raised deck, so I love to keep lots of flowers in hanging pots, as well as larger perennial plants around the edges so that we can enjoy looking down on them while we share our meals.
A pergola covered in jasmine or grapevine makes a space feel intimate and refined. I love vintage wrought iron furniture in an outdoor dining garden because it is so versatile and holds up to the weather. A beautiful, rustic teak dining set evokes an elegant vineyard feel in the garden.
Morning Coffee Spot
If what you want is a more intimate space than an outdoor dining area, perhaps you like to take your coffee outdoors and enjoy the first stirrings of the birds while you plan your day. A simple bistro set in a semicircle of your favorite seasonal flowering plants is a delightful spot to rest before the hustle and bustle.
A dwarf citrus tree would provide an invigorating fragrance for the morning, and flowering ginger has a zest that is sure to get the creative juices flowing.
I find inspiration in watching the first foraging bees of the day industriously gathering that sweet morning nectar. Salvia is a pollinator favorite and flowers for a long period, and daisies are so cheerful.
Cicero said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” I say the garden is a wonderful place to read. There are lots of ways you can transform your garden into a reading spot or turn your favorite reading spot into a garden!
Any garden meant to spend time sitting in should have at least a few hours of shade so that even on a hot day, it can be a comfortable place to work and relax.
I find it much more pleasant to garden during the shaded hours, as I’m able to see the colors and textures more clearly, and moving plants around just seems a bit gentler in the shade, as well.
If you have a favorite spot already, your job at hand is easy. Just be creative. Even if your reading spot is on a porch or patio, there is so much you can do with container gardening, and flower boxes are wonderful.
If you are starting from scratch, a great place to begin is with your resting place. Is it a swing you want to sit on, or maybe a hammock? Maybe you have a charming chaise that needs a starring role.
Whatever you choose as your perch should be the foundation of your reading alcove, so choose the thing that will make you want to sit and stay awhile. This is a garden bed that you can really be creative with and put the plants you love to look at most in.
Raised beds have a fun rustic feel, and they are practical as well. A raised planter will significantly cut back on the amount of maintenance your garden requires.
They also help contain your plants, so they work great in smaller spaces and on patios or balconies. Raised bed planters are a great option for city dwellers that have limited space and still love gardening.
Some of the benefits of planting in raised beds include better water retention, better drainage, and fewer weeds to pull. The soil warms faster in the spring as well, which means you can plant earlier and enjoy your flowers longer.
In a raised bed, you control the quality of the soil completely, so you can be sure that the soil quality is high, which means bigger, healthier, more floriferous plants.
An old wheelbarrow can have a sweet, nostalgic feel to it. Before you retire that faithful old friend, think about repurposing it as a moveable flower bed. If you have a neat vintage-style cart, a few holes drilled in the bottom are all you need to get started.
I love a can of spray paint for outdoor pieces. The paint helps preserve wood or metal and keeps things looking fresh and intentional, but I also understand the sentiment in raw materials, so a clear coat will help keep that natural look, looking fresh. Fill it abundantly!
Repurposed Tire Planters
Any tires will do the trick here, but if you happen to have a tractor tire, you could really go all out on this one. Here is another instance when the sky is the limit. There are lots of things you can do with a stack of tires. You can leave them in their natural state for a more mechanical vibe.
Tires in a children’s garden painted with bright colors and patterns are super fun. And if you like a more boho, naturalist feel, you can wrap the tires with jute rope and make it look like a cute ottoman with a flower cushion.
A Literal Flower Bed
Another piece you can repurpose to create a garden with a whimsical vibe is an old bed frame. Before you put that old frame out on the curb, think about the possibility of a flower “bed.” This is another project where creativity can run wild, creating a quilt for your bed using flowers.
A platform bed can make a great raised bed as well. Keep an eye out for used metal bed frames that can be painted or stripped and have a vintage charm.
This one sounds elaborate, and in fairness, it could be a very involved project if you have the time and space to create an actual garden maze. On a smaller scale, you can create the look or feel of a maze with a little bit of planning and the right type of plants. Shrubby plants work very well for constructing the walls of a maze.
If you like the look of a maze but want to be able to look out on the entire space, a low configuration of boxwoods or some other dense small shrub looks stunning and manicured with some pops of color here and there.
If you are looking for the feel of a maze, but without taking up a lot of space and frustrating visitors, a couple of strategically placed, tall hedges can create a lot of privacy and coziness to an entryway. Or you can go all out and create an amazing masterpiece.
Start with a plan, a map to scale is a great idea for planning a maze project, and using a rake to mark the ground can help you to visualize the view from above.
I adore the wild look of a bed of flowers that don’t stay in their designated spots but mingle together in a symphony of colors, textures, and sizes. It may seem like an uncomplicated shortcut, but I can tell you from experience that getting that wild, yet balanced appearance takes quite a bit of thought and planning.
Larkspur makes a wonderful foundation, mingled with some salvia and long ornamental grasses. Smaller plants can get lost in the throng, so they should be placed strategically near the outer edges of the bed. A nice feature of this type of bed is that it is quite low maintenance once your vision has been executed. The overgrown look is desirable in this type of garden.
Another bonus is that a stringent color palette is not needed for this type of flower bed, so you don’t have to pass over something beautiful because it doesn’t go with the color scheme.
The key to a beautiful wildflower garden is to combine different types of plants in such a way that it appears that they just popped up there on their own!
Is there any bird more adorable than a hummingbird? These sweet little friends of the garden are a joy to watch, and there is something special about sitting in the garden when they come to visit. It just feels special to have those beautiful little birds feel comfortable enough to share a meal with you.
There are lots of wonderful flowering plants that attract hummingbirds, even better than feeders can. My feeders always stay full while my porterweed is a veritable who’s who of pollinating critters. Some other hummingbird favorites include cuphea, fire spike, and all types of salvia.
Hummingbirds are drawn to the color red, and they like flowers that are tubular in shape because they hold lots of sweet pollen. My hummingbird garden is right outside my kitchen window, where I can be sure to catch those little darlings as often as possible.
Nothing brings me more joy in the garden than to see my honeybees enjoying a leisurely afternoon collecting pollen and nectar to take home and make delicious honey for me to harvest. But you don’t have to be a beekeeper to benefit from the labors of the gardener’s most industrious colleagues. You just have to like flowers.
There are thousands of different types of bees, and the honeybee alone pollinates 80% of all flowering plants, including more than a hundred fruits and vegetables. Building a bed with pollinator-attracting flowers next to your vegetable garden will significantly increase your yield.
Bees like to find a spot with many flowers to gather from and stay in that spot all day. The closer your veggie garden is to your pollinator bed, the better chance of those busy bees making their way to your squash blossoms.
Bees are preferential to yellow, blue, and purple flowers. They love zinnias and daisies, and no bee has ever turned down a purple coneflower. Lavender is another pollinator favorite and smells heavenly.
Is there a more beautiful and benevolent creature than a butterfly? Watching them float about on the breeze and flit amongst the flowers is one of my favorite garden pastimes.
The key to a bountiful butterfly garden that will see these wonderful creatures through their entire lifespan is to include both nectar plants and host plants in the same area.
Every species of butterfly has a host plant or plants. This is where they lay their eggs and, ultimately, the food that their larva (caterpillars) will munch on until they are ready to pupate. Host plants will draw butterflies to your garden. Nectar plants, like butterfly bush and zinnias will provide them with the energy they need to reproduce.
A garden with both host and nectar plants, as well as a water source, is a spot where you are likely to see butterflies go through their entire lifespan. Here is a list of butterflies and the host plants that attract them:
- Monarch – Milkweed
- Eastern Swallowtail – Dill, Fennell, Parsley, Rue, Queen Anne’s Lace
- Tiger Swallowtail – Cherry tree, Ash Tree, Willow Tree, Birch Tree, Tulip Tree
- Painted Lady – Aster, Hollyhock, IronWeed
- Gulf Fritillary – Passionflower
- Checkerspot – Black-eyed Susan
- Red Admiral – False Nettle
- American Lady – Pussy Toes
- Common Buckeye – Ruelia
- Mourning Cloak – Shasta Daisy
- American and Purplish Copper – Great Water Dock
- Sulphur Butterflies – Wild Senna
Bird Watcher’s Paradise
A couple of great ways to attract birds to your garden are with water features and bird feeders. A good fruit, nut, and seed mix will draw a wide variety of songbirds. Birdfeeders come in different shapes and forms, such as wire baskets or plastic tubes with small perches.
A birdbath will keep them coming around, too. Birds love water. A small fountain will be a favorite meeting place for neighborhood bluejays.
There are lots of flowering plants that attract birds as well with their ripening seeds. Suppose you adore finches, plant coneflower. For cardinal lovers, sunflowers of any type are failproof.
American beautyberry is a native favorite here in North Florida, where the brilliant purple berries are beautiful and draw birds such as towhees, mockingbirds, and robins. Other flowers that are attractive to birds include black-eyed susans, poppies, zinnias, marigolds, ornamental millet, and amaranth.
Audrey Hepburn once said, “To garden is to believe in tomorrow.” There are so many wonderful teaching moments to be shared in gardening with children. Every day in a garden is a science experiment and a new opportunity to see life and growth cycles in action.
Gardening with children opens the door to compelling communication and a shared sense of satisfaction in creating a special space together. There are so many possibilities in creating a children’s garden and a refreshing easiness in allowing creativity to overrule organization.
Adding imaginative elements to a garden bed that makes it feel welcoming to children is a great way to keep kids interested and engaged. A sweet pea teepee becomes a magical hideout for explorers and fairies alike.
Introduce flowers that are fragrant, plants with interesting textures, and flowers that attract butterflies. Let them make stepping stones, painted rocks, and plant markers, which will become keepsake heirlooms. Adding a dragonfly perch or two will add a whimsical touch. Kids love something they can pick and eat on the spot, too.
Herb & Flower Garden
Yes, herbs are quite popular to grow indoors. But if you love to cook with fresh herbs, consider turning a flower bed into an herb bed. This is especially nice for beds that are close to outdoor living spaces and entryways. I love to brush my hand over a rosemary plant and take the savory fragrance along on my travels.
Herbs have a different perfume than most ornamental flowers, and they aren’t stingy with it. Keeping these plants close to your living space is beneficial in many ways. The scents of many herbs are invigorating and soothing to humans but repel insects like mosquitoes and flies.
Most herbs also produce flowers that are highly attractive to pollinators, although this is not desirable to chefs. Herbs like a sunny spot and will fill a space quite quickly, so herb gardens work quite well in raised beds, as you can control the soil and drainage best that way, and if you intend to use your herbs in cooking, a raised bed will help control the spread and prevent bolting.
Once herbs flower, the nutrients are redirected away from the leaves, and the flavor of the herb is affected negatively. Some herbs, like mint, will spread and fill any space you give it and contained gardens make it possible to control the spread of this tasty vegetation.
Native Plant Preserve
There are many advantages to cultivating species of plants that are native to the area where you live and garden. Native plants help preserve valuable ecosystems and support local wildlife. Maintaining this balance will almost always mean attracting birds and pollinators to your garden.
Another benefit to native plants is that they tend to be the hardiest in the garden. They are living in a climate where they would grow in the wild, so they tend to reseed themselves and come back year after year, making them an economical choice.
If you prefer a very organized and manicured garden, this may not be the best option for you. Native plants tend to grow quickly and spread, and many native plants are likely to be considered weeds in the places they grow wild.
However, these are the very qualities that make them excellent foundational plants, so even if you prefer to plant flowering annuals every year, native plants make a great background for showier plants, and they help maintain species of birds and insects that are also native to the area.
Stone Edge Your Flowerbeds
There are many different materials that can be used to create a boundary for your garden beds. Small wooden fences are pretty, and gravel sets a nice boundary, particularly in areas that need some extra drainage.
A low stone wall is also a classic way to border a flower bed. While this is a more involved project than many other borders would be, it really has a beautiful, polished look. A little effort goes a long way here and creates a long-lasting element in your garden.
This is another area where the manner in which you start will depend on your space. If you are bordering a bed that already exists, your boundaries are already mapped for you, and choosing stones is the most important factor.
If you are creating a new bed, consider creating an aerial map to help create a space that has a nice, organic flow within your landscape and that you will enjoy as a permanent feature.
Built in Bench
This works nicely with raised beds in particular. If your beds are contained in some way, consider working a bench or other seating element right into the plan.
A bench made of poured concrete or wood with an attached planter has a nice permanent look, and pallets can be deconstructed and used to build a rustic bench or swing.
Terraced Flower Garden
If you have an incline to your space, terraced gardens are practical as well as attractive. Terraced garden beds can help prevent erosion and make use of space that you may not have considered a good garden spot.
They also have all the benefits of raised bed gardening, allowing control over soil and watering conditions and containing plants that tend to spread quickly.
Terraced gardens are wonderful for growing vegetables. A space that may have seemed unusable can become an attractive spot for neat rows of beautiful tomatoes, peppers, and greens and create a farm-to-table feel that is cozy and inviting near a patio or other outdoor dining area.
Patterned Flower Garden
If you love a challenge and have great spatial awareness, this one is for you. Patterned gardens are not for the gardener who wants to plant flowers and let them do what they will.
It takes a lot of patience and maintenance to care for this type of bed, but the reward is a garden that would get you a job at Disney World. Think of this as painting a picture with plants.
Whether you are planting a picture or a geometric design, or anything in between, a map is the best place to begin. Make sure that before you start digging, you know the scale and proportions of your design and have the right amounts of each plant.
This is a bed that will require regular trimming and pruning, so when considering which plants will work best, think about plants that don’t grow too quickly or spread too much.
Small format flowers and ground cover plants are perfect for this kind of gardening. While this is quite an involved project, it is likely to win you Yard of the Month more than once!
Classic English Garden
When I think of a traditional English garden, the word romantic always comes to mind. Well-thought-out beds bordering the space should be laden with fragrant blooms, larkspur, salvia, and foxgloves to create a middle ground.
Tulips, iris, and herbs border a perfectly trimmed, green grassy path. A quiet place to sit and enjoy the flowers is a must in an English garden.
When it comes to balance and symmetry in the garden, the English have perfected the art of gardens that are simultaneously manicured and whimsical. Well-shaped hedges of boxwood or yew make a wonderful foundation for a variety of well-cared-for perennial flowering plants, combining edibles and herbs with decorative florals.
Creating a foundation of perennials makes a traditional English garden much easier to keep up with, as layers of annuals can be a lot of work year after year, not to mention a huge expense.
If you live in a cooler climate, bulb flowers like daffodils, lilies, and hyacinths will come back year after year. Roses are practically a requirement, while lavender is easy to care for, and the payoff is substantial.
Flowering Succulent Garden
If you live in a climate that stays hot through most of the year and frequently experiences drought, you may have come to feel a bit discouraged about the difficulty in maintaining flower beds. Daily watering can be costly and time-consuming, as can frequently, replacing dying plants. Enter the succulent garden.
Many people think of cacti when they hear the word succulent, but there is a wonderful, wide world of thorn-free succulents that love heat and can withstand long periods without water and in fact, they rather prefer it that way.
If you are worried about missing out on flowers, I assure you many succulents bloom, and their flowers are stunning and last for quite a long time. My echeveria produces the most graceful stalks of salmon-colored flowers that bloom from late spring until the first freeze.
Aloe plants produce showy spikes of fiery red and orange flowers, in addition to their usefulness in cooling a sunburn. Kalanchoe and purslane are prized for their hardy blooms in a rainbow of colors.
Many succulents are perennial and reproduce through self-division, so they fill the space nicely in a short amount of time and require little to no care.
I recall a strawberry pot with a few echeveria plants that my mother set on a stone border wall (hens and chicks is what she called them), in a matter of maybe two years, the plant filled out all of the available space in the pot and continued down the wall, filling in cracks with its beautiful babies.
Rock gardens are another type of low-maintenance bed that can look quite manicured and elegant. These gardens provide the perfect environment for plants that need excellent drainage, like lavender and sedum, as well as many types of ornamental grasses.
Some herbs, such as thyme, perform very well in rock gardens. If your climate permits, agave plants (or century plants) thrive in this type of garden and create a look that is both prehistoric and modern at the same time.
Another type of attractive rock garden is the Asian-influenced Zen Garden. This minimalistic gardening method involves few plants and the use of stone elements that evoke a spirit of calm and meditation.
Many Zen gardens incorporate sand or gravel that is raked to give the feeling of water, and some contain bamboo plants that create a soothing sound when the wind blows.
Cut Flower Garden
If you have a larger space that you would like to fill, and it doesn’t make your heart hurt to cut your precious flowers and bring them inside, a cut flower garden is a delightful undertaking.
Cut flower gardens are a sustainable way of creating your own floral arrangements and require very little upfront expense. Most cut flower gardens start with a sunny space, some rich soil, and a few packets of seeds.
Long, narrow beds are best for this purpose, as you will want to be able to access the entire bed to harvest your flowers without trampling the rest of the plants. It’s also a great idea to create a map, and decide ahead of time, which flowers you want to plant, in what quantities, and where in your space each type of flower is planted.
Planting rows east to west will create an area of constant sun, and running rows north and south will create some periods of shade. Take this into account when you choose which flowers to grow, as well.
A water garden can be a soothing spot to escape to after a long day or a place to begin your day with a heart full of gratitude for the beauty of nature and all the life that water sustains. Including a water feature such as a fountain or pond in your garden opens a whole new world of water-grown plants.
A pond in the yard can be a home for fish and a place for frogs to gather and sing you to sleep with their night song. The soothing music of falling water is relaxing and meditative.
If you are adding a pond to your garden, don’t miss out on water lilies. Water lilies and lotus come in some of the most breathtaking colors and petal formations. The gentle meandering of a fragrant lotus atop a pond swimming with carp is a thing of daydream.
Don’t miss out on papyrus if you go with a water feature. This plant used by the ancient Egyptians to make paper has a lovely reed-like texture reminiscent of bamboo but on a smaller scale. The gentle sway of a cluster of cat tails recalls memories of summers by a lake and riverside fishing expeditions.
There are so many wonderful ways to bring creativity and innovation to a garden or, if you prefer, to create a beautiful, traditional, classic garden bed that transcends time and location. Perhaps you want to create a space that transports you to an English countryside or a fairy wonderland.
Bringing other elements of found items, rocks, water, and furniture to the outdoors makes a garden a place of joy and interest. These things all create visual interest, juxtaposition, and the opportunity to include other parts of life, morning coffee or an evening meal, in the garden.
It is well worth the time and effort to create a plan and invest, whether in time, money, or otherwise, in creating a flower bed that you can enjoy and appreciate for years to come.