Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Do you like a meadow or a more formal garden design? You can create different designs in your yard just by choosing certain shapes for your beds and plants. Just like decorating your house, it is a personal choice and what appeals to you is what is important. There are a few guidelines that might help you.
There are two basic designs for beds, a border and an island bed. A border is usually long and runs along a house or a fence area which determines the size of the your flowerbed. They will be viewed from the front only. The longer the bed is the more width you will need to make it proportional. The minimum depth is usually 3’. If you decide to make it even deeper you will need stepping stones to access the back of the bed for planting, weeding and general maintenance.
A long bed will be planted with 3’ tall (or taller) plants in the back. The middle plants should be 1’ to 2’ tall and the border plants should be 10” or less. Plantings should drift into each other for a more natural feel and look. Group them together rather than planting in distinct rows, planting in odd numbers of at least three. The exception to the odd number rule is a plant that will be a stand alone plant and will be used to draw attention to the bed such as a large perennial, maybe a Butterfly Bush.
Island beds are altogether different since they will be viewed from all sides. The focal point and the tallest plant or plants will be in the center or just off center for a more asymmetrical look. The focal point can be a large statue, arbor, shrub or tree. Use your imagination and preference here.
It is a good idea to set your potted plants in the bed and step back and see what they look like up close and from the street or patio. It is easier to move them now than when they are planted and established. Also be sure to read the label for the mature plant size. You won’t want them blocking your windows or growing onto your porch or sidewalk. Always group plants together that have the same water requirements so you are not overwatering or under watering any of them.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information.