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Six Designs for Flower Beds and Borders

Before you put in your beds and borders, reflect on how the location of your garden can give you viewing pleasure throughout the season. Plant annuals where you can most enjoy their color and fragrance during their relatively brief life. Almost everyone’s yard has some features that are ready-made for planting beds and borders

Find the situation that most closely matches your yard and discover how to re-create a design or adapt it for your own garden:

  • Sunny patio bed: Many homeowners have a backyard patio that they use for various summer activities. Creating a flower bed between the patio and the lawn is easy — and a perfect way to show off annuals during the warm months. Plant the tallest flowers in the interior of the bed so that your bed looks nice from both the patio and the lawn. If the bed is so large that you can’t reach the middle to weed or water, create a meandering path of a few stepping stones through the bed. When choosing your own annuals for a border around your sunny backyard patio, you can use the following criteria to limit your search.

  • Shady bed around a large tree: Trees are usually the largest and often the most distinctive element in a garden. One way to show them off is to plant a circular flower bed around their trunks. A mix of pastel colors looks great in the shade, particularly with the addition of plenty of white and an accent of green lawn. A nicely pruned specimen tree, encircled by a flower bed, can serve as the main element in creating a stunning front garden. Make the bed large enough to really accent the tree and to allow for a pleasing complexity of plants. A circular bed 10 feet in diameter serves nicely in this situation.

  • Border for a formal walkway: Annuals can brighten up the skinniest of spaces providing bright color and a sweet scent you can appreciate as you pass by. A 20-foot-long brick walkway between your entry gate and your front door may have only a 2-foot-wide border along each side. In such restricted spaces, consider a simple color scheme with a minimum of different kinds of plants. Typically, formal walkways are in full sun.

  • Border for an informal walkway: When you’re edging a curved walkway made of irregularly shaped paving or stepping stones, you’re likely to want different styles and colors of plants than you’d choose to line a straight brick pathway. The most appropriate planting choices for curving walkways are a loose variety of annuals that duplicate the appearance of a cottage garden border — even within such a confined space as a 3-foot-wide walkway border.

  • Border for a modern-style walkway: Front pathways leading to ranch-style houses, or more modern-style houses, often stretch from the driveway along the front of the house to the porch and doorway. Such pathways are usually made of poured aggregate or smoothly laid stone. The border running alongside this pathway is best planted in just one kind of flower. Your goal here is to completely fill the border. This simplicity of single-variety planting suits both the sleekness of the path and the style of house.

    Even within such a simple scheme, you have plenty of choices. Consider planting zinnias in cool colors or gloriosa daisies in warm colors. Space transplants 6 to 8 inches apart, staggering them to avoid the look of soldiers lined up at attention. Deadhead and water the plants throughout the growing season, and they’ll provide a dramatic, colorful walkway border that belies the simplicity and ease of your planting scheme.

  • Border against a backyard fence: Large borders consisting mainly of trees and shrubs usually form a backdrop in most gardens. You can call on annual flowers to fill in bare spaces between the permanent plants and to brighten the view across the garden. A border that radiates outward from a fenced-corner and is curved in front is likely to include a variety of shrubs and maybe a small tree or two.

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