Gardening Basics

How to Create a Layered Bed

That blank space, whether curbside, across the foundation, or below the porch is a masterpiece of color, texture, and form just waiting to happen. Yes, it can be daunting and you might not know where to begin. We’ve put together a simple layout that’s easy to replicate and a quick video to show you how it all comes together.

We started with fairly mature plants and planted for instant curb appeal. With the shrubs at the back, we planted them closer than we would a hedge for quick, seamless coverage. All of this provides year-round structure and waves of color (viburnum in spring, fringe flower and hydrangea in summer, fall color from foliage of a Japanese maple). But we also wanted BIG color, so we doubled the number of annual bedding dahlia (spacing closer than the figure advised on the plant tag). All plants and materials are available at Lowe’s, #ColorDoesIt.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • We started with a row of viburnum shrubs across the back. They’ll top out at about 4-5 feet which will provide privacy without the neighbors wondering what you’re hiding.
  • Below those shrubs we installed a row of fringe flower in a variety that grows short and wide. This helps hide the bases of the viburnum shrubs and adds summer-into-fall color when those have finished flowering in late spring.
  • Next we added a Japanese maple chosen for its fall foliage, but also for its ultimate height (8-ft tall in 10 years) which will never overwhelm the house.
  • Because every garden needs a few surprises, we planted groups of hydrangeas at the edges to form a frame. We then tossed in a few blueberries at the very outer edges for fall color and well, for berries all summer!
  • Moving toward the center, three conifers in a soft gray-green hue add texture to break up all that leafiness. Added bonus is how great they’ll look all winter (even under a bit of snow).
  • When it turns blazing hot in August we can count on the groups of purple salvia to still be putting on a show. These are a perennial variety so they’ll look even better next year.
  • Then comes the bling! We used several flats of bedding dahlia in hot pink. We chose that color because rich pinks look great in the soft morning sun but also don’t wash out under direct, midday rays.
  • Finally, we capped the whole thing off with a sedum that’s tolerant of extremes (heat and cold) and that blooms in late summer to early fall–just when the dahlia are tapering off.

If you just think about a garden bed as a room where you first get the walls and floors right before adding furniture and decor, you’ll be off to a good start.

If you need help or have questions, leave a comment below. We’re happy to help you make a bed!

Watch it come together!

Image: Roger Foley, Roger Foley Photography

Containers and rocking chairs (on porch): Lowe’s

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