Flower beds that hug your outdoor house walls add a splash of color and a personalized look to your landscaping. It doesn't matter if your available space is large or small; with a bit of imagination you can fit those flowers in just about anywhere.
Best Side of the House to Use
No matter what type of flower bed idea you come up with, the first consideration should be where to plant. The way a house is positioned in relation to the sun determines how much sun each side enjoys. In the Northern Hemisphere, it breaks down like this:
- The north side of the house gets the least amount of sunshine, so chances are your plants will be in shade most of the time.
- The south side of the house gets the most sun, even in winter when the sun is lower on the horizon. This is the place to put your sun-lovers.
- The east side welcomes the morning sun, best for plants that like some sun but that don't tolerate high temperatures.
- The west side gets the afternoon sun, which tends to be hotter. It almost gets the same amount of sunshine as the south, but depending on the angle of your house there may be longer periods of shade. Plants that can handle full sun do best.
Other factors that determine the amount of sun the different sides of your house receive include whether you have lots of shade trees, covered patios or if your house is close to an adjacent one that could block the sun.
Flowers in a Vintage Boat
If you have nautically themed décor and a modest amount of space, an old dinghy makes the perfect flower bed. Any holes in the bottom can help with drainage. If the boat is in good shape, you might have to add a few holes of your own. You may opt to set the dinghy right on the ground, or build a pedestal and mount the craft. One idea that works well is to landscape an area with neutral-toned small pebbles, and then put the frame and the boat on top. Paint the boat or leave it natural. Add potting soil and your choice of flowers and you have an instant flower bed.
Old Log Flower Beds
Old log flower beds add a rustic look to your outdoor space. Aged logs work best because the wood is softer and it's easier to hollow out the inside. Choose a size that fits your space, hollow the log, add potting soil and plant away. Depending on the condition of the log, you may have to add a few holes along the bottom to help with drainage. Another option is to use smaller logs as a border for a flower bed. If you live in a place where collecting driftwood and logs from beaches is allowed, you're in luck. Otherwise you just might have to buy your log or perhaps find one at a recycling yard.
Boots on a Fence
If you have an old fence that needs some sprucing up and some vintage gumboots, you have a vertical flower bed in the making. Add a few holes on the bottom of the boots for drainage, unless they're already "holey" enough. Mount the boots on the fence, and then fill with planting soil and your choice of flowers or herbs. Another option is to use them as single hanging planters, or you can line them up on a raised bench or add them as accents in a ground-level garden. The boots work well in micro-gardens, such as those on condo patios or in postage-stamp-sized back or front yards.
Kiddie Pool Flower Beds
If you've got a leaky kiddie pool that you can't bear to get rid of, turn it into a whimsical flower bed alongside your home. Many of these pools are brightly colored and designed to look like giant frogs, butterflies or other animals, so the cute factor is already there. Kids might even get into gardening when they see their favorite toy is now a home for flowers and/or herbs. You'll most likely need to drill drainage holes in the pool before finding it a home. After placing, fill it with potting soil and plant. Let the kids get involved from the beginning so they get the full gardening experience.
Mix and Match Window Flower Beds
Window flower beds are different than window flower boxes. In a flower box, you have a single container filled with soil and plants that is attached to the bottom of a window. Once you plant something in the box, it's there to stay until it dies or you transplant it. Window flower beds are mounted in the same place, but they have cut out holes to hold flower pots. The holes are sort of like cup holders in a car, but without enclosed bottoms. Plant whatever you like in the pots and then mix and match them in the "cup holders." This set-up works well for small spaces and for plants that you might want to bring in during the winter.
Peaceful Zen Rock Garden
Traditional Zen gardens, called karesansui, use little if any greenery. Sand or small pebbles are spread on a flat surface to represent water. Larger rocks are positioned on the "sea" to represent islands. Even larger rocks can be used to frame part of the sea, creating mountains. The "sea" is raked to create the illusion of waves, or movement. Japanese lanterns or other statues are sometimes added, along with the occasional potted bonsai tree. A bonsai is a full-size tree or shrub that's been clipped and trained to maintain a miniature shape. Even if you only have a tiny space to fill, Japanese-style Zen rock gardens can add a sense of peace.
To learn more about enhancing your landscape with containers, see Using Containers in Flowerbeds.