While many designers consider curving lines in the garden more aesthetically pleasing, straight lines like those in a rectangular bed are often the norm when dealing with existing beds. You may not have the ability or desire to change the shape of the bed, but that doesn't mean you can't have a garden that adds curb appeal. Garden design ultimately is up to your taste, budget and desired amount of upkeep.
If you are looking to create a permanent flower bed with little maintenance that will look great year after year, consider designing with trees, shrubs and perennials. Choose ornamental trees that fit the size of your bed. Research options that will work best in your growing zone, soil and sun conditions and proximity to neighbours and/or foundations. Flowering trees such as dogwood, flowering cherry and weeping crabapple are popular choices, as well as varieties of Japanese red maples. Think of textures and colours when designing your bed--if your heart is set on an azalea bush, do you want a tree that would flower at the same time such as the weeping crabapple or the vibrant red leaves of the Japanese red maple giving the azalea blooms a gorgeous backdrop? Do you want interest in your bed all year long? Choose a conifer tree or evergreen bush as the focal.
Once you've anchored your tree and shrub, look at perennials that love the shade you've created. Ferns and hostas add more texture. Flowering perennials such as astilbe and bleeding heart add splashes of colour. Finish with a ground cover such as ivy or forget-me-nots and you have a rectangular shade bed that will keep going for years.
Formal European garden design is the perfect sophisticated look for a rectangular garden bed. Planted to give a tapestry-like effect from a distance, European gardening is not for the gardener who wishes to create a low-maintenance space. Annuals such as marigold, petunia, begonia and others that bloom profusely are the backbone of this design, planting in large, sweeping designs of like colours to create areas that look like one big colour block from afar. Meticulously pruned boxwood or holly shrubs outline the designs and give unity to the space. When planting and designing in the European garden form, think symmetry. Annuals are heavy feeders, needing a lot of fertiliser, rich soil and regular watering to look up to par and hedges need to be kept up to pull off this design.
Turn your rectangular garden bed into a wildlife sanctuary. Consider planting a butterfly- and bird-friendly space with native plants. Visit your local full-service garden centre for ideas on native plants for your growing zone that are inviting to wildlife. Many plants such as purple coneflower, shasta daisy and black-eyed Susan are favourites of both birds and butterflies and are native to a large portion of North America. Plant annuals such as zinnia and cosmos, herbs such as dill and carrot and a shrub such as butterfly bush or lilac to provide shade and shelter. Use a shallow birdbath or place a rock in the centre of a deeper one to provide a place for butterflies to drink. Add a birdfeeder to finish off the bed. Don't forget to put up a chair or two nearby to enjoy the show.
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