March 18, 2024

How to choose a garden that suits your personal needs

Starting a garden from scratch may seem daunting! But we've got you covered with tons of great ideas and free garden plans for every type of yard, whether it's big and sprawling or teeny-tiny. For starters, look at the area you want to plant: Does it get full sun, which is 6 or more hours per day? Or maybe it gets only part sun, which is about half that, or full shade. Watch that space for a few days to get a sense of what's happening at what time of day. Think about seasonal changes, too. For example, an area that's full shade in summer may be full sun in spring. That will dictate what plants will thrive in that area. It's also important to read plant tags and make sure a perennial, shrub or tree can survive winters in your USDA Hardiness Zone (find yours here).

It's also important to be patient because gardens aren't built overnight! They evolve through the years as you learn more about plants you love. And whether you're an experienced gardener or a complete newbie, Mother Nature will continue to throw you some unexpected twists and turns. The bottom line is you're never done learning about plants and your garden. So, embrace the challenges, enjoy the surprises, and read on to discover great garden plants and layout ideas for your own backyard.

1. Patio Garden Bed

beautiful small garden filled with flowers and two red hummingbird feeders on a shepherd hook

If you're constructing a new patio, create a planting bed as part of the patio to define the space and make it feel more like an outdoor room.

2. Ultimate Kitchen Garden

free kitchen garden plans

Say hello to the potager of our dreams, designed by renowned gardener Jon Carloftis. Overflowing with amazing edible plants handpicked by some of the nation's best chefs, this brings new meaning to farm-to-table dining because it's your own back yard!

3. Perennial Garden

ornamental garden, with grasses and various perennial flowers in mixed borders and flower beds designed in such a way to provide natural color patterns, and a sense of naturalistic landscape

Why plant new flowers every year? By incorporating perennials, which return for many years, you'll be able to build a garden that will need little care from you to bloom.

4. A Glorious Kitchen-Garden Plan

free garden plans

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL A. HILL

When faced with Linda Lipsett's 30-by-90-foot plot, garden designer Chris Fischer got crafty with organization. He denoted three prominent portions—a large middle area surrounded by two smaller sections—and adorned each with raised beds for better soil quality control.

5. Vertical Garden

mandevilla

Sometimes the only way to grow is up! Vining plants add interest and also can provide screening and privacy on a deck or patio. Vines in pots work just as well as those planted in beds.

6. Herb Garden

herb garden

Even if your space is limited, you can grow herbs right outside your door. Assemble a collection of pots and plant the herbs that you use most often, as well as some varieties that are less familiar to you (you may discover a new fave!). Plant both annual and perennial herbs for a good mix year after year.

7. Rose Garden

free garden plans

Every garden needs roses! And they're not as fussy as you might suspect. New shrub types are hardy and more disease-resistant so they're perfect even for beginners.

8. Water Garden

free water garden plans

This small water feature is suitable for a Zone 6 to 9 residential garden in the city or suburbs, where it could be placed on a deck, terrace, or patio.

11. Bark Appeal Garden

free garden plans

Does your garden lack color during the leafless season? Trees and shrubs with interesting or peeling bark make a great addition to your landscape.

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