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6 flower bed ideas that will beautify your yard

Decorate your yard with gorgeous flower beds

An assortment of colorful flowers in a flower bed. Credit: Getty Images / RobertSchneider

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Flower beds can make your yard look beautiful and smell heavenly, but first, you have to plant the flowers. Looking for flower bed ideas? There are hundreds of types of flowers available to purchase online and in-store at your local garden centers. What you plant will depend on where you live and what kind of floral scape you're after. Here are six different flower bed ideas to beautify your yard.

Flower bed ideas for your yard

Use carpet bedding to create unique garden designs

Close up of three colorful flowers.
Credit: Proven Winners / Costa Farms

Carpet bedding can be an easy and colorful way to add geometric designs.

Pros: Easy to plan and plant
Cons: May need to replant every season

Carpet bedding is just one name for the flower garden style popular in theme parks and universities used to create geometric designs or words. Carpet bedding is easy to plant because you stick to just one type of plant in different colors instead of worrying about a layered look. Victorian-era gardeners made clocks, crosses, circles, American legion badges, and dozens of other designs from petunias, verbena, geraniums, and other annual flowers that found in South America and Africa.

As the season goes on, your plants may start to look scraggly. Large theme parks with carpet bedding often swap out the plants several times a year. You may need to swap out your petunias for ornamental kale or other cold-hardy plants come fall.

Plant pretty native flowers to feed the bees and butterflies

A butterfly and a bee sit atop a pink flower.
Credit: Getty Images / db_beyer

Offer the local bees and butterflies a spot to munch.

Pros: More butterflies and birds, low maintenance
Cons: Time-consuming to prepare the site

Want to feed the butterflies, birds, and bees? Plant a native garden that will give your local critters plenty to munch. Native wildlife gardens include easy-care plants, like milkweed flowers, which attract beautiful Monarch butterflies.

Native plants are easy to grow since they've already adapted to your local climate. Check your local native plant society for lists of great flowers for home gardens and where to buy seeds and plants.

One challenging aspect of installing a native plant garden is getting rid of the competing plants. Weeds that originated in Europe, like thistles and quackgrass, grow a lot more quickly than many native plants and will overwhelm and smother native seedlings. Either remove all the existing plants or be prepared to spend a lot of time weeding.

If you have a site that gets a lot of runoff from roofs, driveways, or a steep slope during rainstorms, you may want to install a rain garden, a type of native plant garden with species that can handle periodic soakings.

Grow a cutting garden for bouquet-worthy stems all season long

A bouquet of flowers sits in a vase.
Credit: Getty Images / MaskaRad

Treat yourself to a bouquet of your own flowers.

Pros: Bouquets all season
Cons: Limited variety of flowers

Do you love bringing flowers into your house? Plant a cutting garden with sturdy-stemmed flowers that bloom for the entire season. Easy-to-grow cutting garden flowers like zinnias, sunflowers, and dahlias for big summer blooms, or airy pink and white cleome.

For cool-season color, consider snapdragons, stock, and dianthus flowers. Keep in mind that some lovely flowers are tricky to keep fresh and full once they’re cut, including most roses.

Sow a sensory garden that anyone can enjoy

A child's hand reaches out to small flower buds.
Credit: Getty Images / Marta Nogueira

Provide an immersive sensory experience.

Pros: Accessible to people of all ages and abilities
Cons: Limited choice of flowers

A sensory garden is designed to appeal to all your senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Sensory gardens are a great choice for gardening with kids. (Although you may not want to introduce eating flowers to children under 5).

For sight, think about flowers with different forms like the Dr. Seuss-style celosia. Other unique flowers like purple brains, bright blue cornflowers, or tall spikes of blue delphiniums or sunset-colored hollyhocks. There are dozens of scented flowers and plants, from sweet pea vines (not to be confused with edible peas) to lavender and lemon balm.

For touch, consider fuzzy lamb’s ears, chunky chive flowers or cottony-seeded milkweeds. Another good option is an obedient plant, where you can push the flowers around the stem to different positions for hours of wholesome entertainment.

Sound can mean rustling grass stems, wind chimes, or rattling dried seed pods. For taste, you can use edible flowers like chives, peppery nasturtiums, or feathery dill.

Start a night garden that glistens under the moonlight

Three images of white flowers in a garden.
Credit: Burpee

Thought white flowers may be bland during the daylight hours they'll stand out like stars at night.

Pros: Looks great in moonlight
Cons: Can look a little dull by day

If you love sitting outside in the moonlight, a night garden could be the right flower bed for your backyard. These gardens feature collections of pale and white flowers that brighten and perfume the night. You have plenty of options like Iceberg roses, white gardenias, and coneflowers to white moonflowers, which only open in the evening. Another option is Baby’s breath, which is unscented, but the masses of tiny flowers look a little like a galaxy of stars on a summer evening.

Cover your flower bed with mixed border and cottage garden

Three images of colorful flowers in a garden.
Credit: Burpee

Going for a traditional garden look may require frequent maintenance.

Pros: A traditional garden look you can customize
Cons: Needs frequent maintenance and advanced planning

A mixed border garden combines perennial and annual flowers and shrubs. These gardens also sometimes include other plants like bulbs, ornamental grasses, and foliage plants. Hence the name, the plants are placed alongside walls or walkways.

A cottage garden is a small, informal garden, usually near a house. In American yards, mixed borders and cottage gardens have a natural look, with plants overlapping and forming layers and mounds instead of being planted in separated squares.

These gardens can be complicated to grow, but a flower seed kit that comes with a flower planner and a sample garden map can help simplify the planning and planting process for you.

How to pick plants for your flower beds

Close ups of three colorful flowers in a flower bed.
Credit: Burpee

It's important to consider how much sun your flower bed will receive.

Consider the amount of sunlight your flower bed gets. Some flowers require "full sun,” which means at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, or “full shade," which means an hour or less of direct sunlight. There's also “light shade” (a.k.a "partial shade”), which requires roughly about three to five hours of daily direct sunlight (or a longer period with dappled shade). Choose florals that will thrive in the amount of sunlight that your flower bed gets.

Water requirements should also be taken into consideration when drumming up flower bed ideas. Is your site sunny and dry, or shady and damp? Choose the plants that will thrive and look great in your yard.

Blooming times for annual and perennial flowers is another factor to consider when planning your garden bed. Annual flowers like marigolds sprout, bloom for months at a time, and die in one season. Perennial flowers like lavender survive the winter and regrow the next year. A calendar can help you easily manage which flowers will bloom and when.

Take a look at the height of the flowers you’re selecting too. Cosmos are great flowers for bright and summery bouquets, and they can grow up to four feet high. Aim to create a layered look for your garden with short plants in the front of your flower bed and taller plants in the back.

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