Get the most from your beds
Following just two principles of design when planning a flowerbed or border will help you to create a pleasing effect. First put most of your tall plants at the back of borders, or in the centre of beds that have been cut out of the lawn, to offset smaller plants at the front of the border. Second, always group an odd number of flowering or foliage plants together. Groups of three, five or seven will give a more natural effect in a planting scheme than groups of two, four or six.
Weird and wonderful
Add height and excitement to a low-lying flowerbed by growing annuals over structures made from bamboo or wire mesh. Spheres, cones or even animal shaped structures will be covered quickly by Cobaea scandens (cup and saucer vine), nasturtiums, sweet peas or other climbers to give the flowerbed an unusual appearance.
Year round interest
Make your flowerbed a centre of interest throughout the year by choosing plants that flower or produce decorative foliage at different times. Include bulbs that will bloom at the end of winter and in early spring, and add some late flowering perennials to brighten up the garden in autumn.
Cutting out a straight edge
To cut out a straight border, lay down a plank and, using the edge as a guide, cut through the soil using a sharp edging iron. Even if you are standing on the plank, the pressure applied by the edging iron being levered backwards to define the edge can still move the plank out of position. To stop this happening, stabilise the plank by hammering a long nail into the ground through each end.
Cutting out a shape
To cut a curved or shaped border, lay a hose on the ground to trace a shape. Cut out a shape with a lawn edging tool by following the contours of the hose.
Edging a path
If you want to put a flowerbed next to a path made of gravel or ground bark, it is best to separate them by an edging of stones, bricks, tiles, strips of treated timber or low growing shrubs and perennials to prevent the gravel or bark from overflowing onto the bed.
Bordering on a vegetable patch
Make the most of a small garden by growing some herbs and vegetables in your borders. Chives, carrots and parsley all have attractive foliage. Red cabbages, purple Brussels sprouts and bronze fennel all make colourful splashes.