Landscaping ideas for a 12-by-16 three-tier flower bed

Written by deborah stephenson
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Landscaping ideas for a 12-by-16 three-tier flower bed
Raised flower beds are attractive and make gardening easier. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Tiered flower beds offer efficient space in a small yard or garden, but they can also make for elegant or unusual displays when thoughtfully laid out. Using tiers, you can transform a basic rectangle into other smaller shapes for a variety of interesting designs. By positioning the bed at different angles with regards to light, you can divide the planting areas to favour sun or shade loving flowers for a further range of possibilities.

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Centred Rectangles

Position landscape timbers or build simple raised beds of rot-resistant wood such as cedar or redwood in a 12-by-16-foot rectangle, and fill the space with well-rotted compost or top soil, smoothed and levelled with a rake. Center another rectangle of similar construction measuring 8-by-12 feet on top the first, filling it as before. Finally, top that rectangle with one measuring 4-by-8 feet. Put shrubs or tall plants in the top bed, and plant each bed below with successively shorter plants. Such a configuration gives you access to all sides for maintenance, and makes a pretty display you can enjoy from any angle. Place the beds in full sun for sun-loving plants, or use shade-tolerant plant varieties on north-facing sides in semi-shade areas.

Three-Tiered Divider

Instead of centring them, make tiers flush along one long side of the bottom rectangle, and you can back the resulting beds against a shed wall or house for a one-sided display. You could also use them as a divider between your yard and anything you may prefer to block -- such as the view of a busy street or ugly utility areas. Face the bed toward the south for sun, and plant lower growing flowers at the bottom as before. This is a good configuration for including a small waterfall, cascading from the top tier into a pool in the lowest level. Hide pipes and electrical components inside a building or in back of a wall or fence behind the beds.

Fountain Flower Bed

Start with the basic 12-by-16-foot rectangle using stone or bricks to layout the shape. Fill with soil, then top with a stone or brick circle measuring 12 feet in diameter -- centred in the rectangle so that there are two semi-rectangular beds measuring 2-by-12 feet on either side of the circle. Make a top circle 8 feet across in the centre of the larger circle, and install a recirculating fountain made from a 4-foot rigid pool liner and fountain kit, following the manufacturer's instruction or online tutorial. Plant flowers attractive to birds and butterflies, who will also enjoy quenching their thirst at the convenient fountain.

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