How to Design Flower Beds & Shrubs

You may already have a design in mind of the way you want your flower bed to look. Shrubs add interest to any flower bed and highlight the flowers planted with them. Evergreen, deciduous or flowering shrubs can add a functional element. Shrubs can add variety or provide a backdrop for the colourful blooms of flowers. Plan your landscape design with shrubs and flowers that will add lushness and beauty to any landscape.

Create a design of your garden on graph paper to scale. Assign a scale for the number of blocks that equals one foot of garden space. Divide the space into sections, noting what will be planted in each section and further divide that section to note what flowers and shrubs you will plant.

Use a garden hose or ball of twine to create the outline of the flower bed on the lawn. Experiment with different outlines such as oval, circular, irregular borders and straight lines.

Choose how you will mark the edge of the flower bed. Use a weed trimmer to trim the grass at the edge, or let the soil of the flower bed meet the grass. Choose edging material such as bricks, plastic, field stones or metal to create the border of the flower bed.

Look at how much sun your flower bed will receive throughout the day, and check the soil for drainage and richness. Have the soil tested for the pH levels of minerals such as phosphorous and nitrogen, and any soil amendments that may be needed before you plant.

Determine the hardiness of the flowers and shrubs for your area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone map will help you decide what is appropriate to plant in your garden so your flowers and shrubs will thrive all year.

Choose the colour scheme of the flowers and shrubs. Use a variety of complementary colours or shades of one colour. Take flowering, evergreen and deciduous shrubs into consideration when deciding on the structure and dimension they will add to your flower bed. Shrubs may be the focus of the flower bed or they can complement the flowers. Choose the texture of flowers and shrubs so they create harmony in the garden.

Determine the height of the flowers and shrubs. Evergreens keeps their leaves all year while deciduous shrubs lose their leaves in the fall. There are also flowering shrubs which have a blooming season.


The flower bed should be at least 4 to 6 feet wide. Consider the existing walkways, buildings and fences when planning the design. If the garden is on a slope, consider a mix of drought-tolerant flowers and shrubs for high on the slope and water loving plants to place at the bottom of the slope. For areas with limited space, place tall plants at the back and a mix of medium to small plants in the middle with short flowers or flowering shrubs in the front around the border. Consider adding stepping stones, a bench or birdbath if the area will be large enough to walk through.


Planting flowers and shrubs too close together could result in an overcrowded flower bed causing plants to die.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Garden hose or twine
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About the Author

Marie Louise is passionate about her writing, bringing personal knowledge and experience on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, chronic pain conditions, parenting, research, alternative medicine and animals. Her work appears on several different websites.