How to arrange garden plants?

There is a lot to consider when choosing and arranging your garden plants. For example,

  • How tall and wide will they grow? How much space should you leave between plants and will they fit in the designated area?
  • How much space do the roots need to grow?
  • Will they do better in a pot, flower bed or rockery ?
  • What colour flowers do they produce and what time of year do they flower?
  • What will they look like during dormant period or throughout the winter? Will they need to be brought indoors throughout the winter?
  • What are the best growing conditions for the plants? i.e. what type of soil do you have? Is the soil very damp or dry? Is it shady or a sunny area? It is sheltered from the wind?
  • Is your plant likely to spread or become invasive? Does it need to be contained?
  • What kind of wildlife could these plants attract to your garden?
  • How much maintenance will your plant need? and will it be easy to access if you need to prune or water it? or clear fallen leaves in the winter. 

When choosing plants consider what style garden you would like and add some

fresh compost or well rotted manure to your flower beds to improve the quality of the soil. 

Step by step guide on arranging garden plants.

Step one

Begin by working around any well established plants, for example trees or large shrubs.  If you are starting with a blank canvas consider which plants you would like to be your focal point in the garden. You then want to consider from which angle you will be looking at your garden from. For example you may be looking out from your window or walking down the path or looking from a seating area.

Step two

You want to consider any parts of the garden that may need to be hidden. For example a scruffy old fence , or maybe you need to create a boundary hedge or a privacy screen from neighbours.  

Step three

Once you have your backdrop/ hedges or screening and focal point plants in place you then want to consider ground cover plants for flower beds and borders. The general rule of thumb is that there shouldn't be any open soil in a flower bed as this allows unwanted weeds to fill the gaps around your plants. If you are choosing to use perennial ground cover plants instead of evergreens consider how this will look during winter. 

Step four

Once you have the basic shape of your garden laid out, then you can look for smaller plants such as flowers, sub shrubs, ornamental grasses ect to bring more colour to the garden. Consider how these will look once they reach their full potential and height. Also bare in mind you may want to keep invasive plants in pots or plants that may need to be protected from frost in pots where they can be moved indoors during winter. Don't forget plants in pots will need watering daily throughout the summer season.  

Step five

Fill the gaps. A fuller flower bed can prevent unwanted weeds growing, will help retain water in the soil and create some shade to smaller plants which can be protected from sun scorch in the summer. Green leafy plants such as herbs, chives, ferns and succulents  and ivy make great gap fillers.

Other ways to fill the gaps is to use stepping stones, large rocks, ornaments or a mulch or gravel.  Mulch or gravel is also a great  way to keep flower beds looking neat use during winter when some plants have died right back.