Landscaping a flower-bed strip in the front yard


Hello Master Gardeners,

I have recently moved to a new place, and in the front yard, I have a long (6m) and narrow (0.5) flowerbed. I would like to plant some evergreen bushes + seasonal flowers. Any recommendations on how to plan this and what to plant ?

Many thanks in advance!


Landscaping a flower bed strip in the front yard

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with this interesting question on what evergreen bushes and seasonal flowers we recommend for your 6m by 0.5m new flower bed in your front yard.

Master Gardeners are not necessarily equipped to provide advice on garden design but rather, best practices in areas of horticulture, soil science, and pest control – i.e., more science-based topics. There are lots of resources available that can provide inspiration. Looking at photos and plans of different gardens can give you ideas for your garden. Landscape Ontario has some garden designs online, as well as a comprehensive list of garden designers whose websites provide inspiration:

Looking at your photo, I have made the following presumptions, to give you a start:

  • The front yard flower bed strip is south facing and is a sunny location (at least 6 hours of sun a day)
  • You will want hardy, salt-resistant plants since the flower bed is bordering the street
  • You only want ornamentals and not edibles
  • It would be preferable to grow native plants and good pollinators
  • You would like flowering during spring, summer and fall
  • That repetition of the same kinds of plants is an attractive design feature

Early spring is an excellent time to be planning your flower bed. The first and most important thing to do is ensure that you have good soil. The soil you have will be depleted and potentially may have some pollutants in it from run-off from the car driveway and the street. Please obtain some fresh topsoil and compost and lay at least 8” (20 cm) of fresh soil on the bed. Dig it in, so that there is a nice mix of old soil and fresh new soil.

Building a mixed border is a lot like preparing your favourite recipe. Since we spend most of our time enjoying our garden in the summer you should think about including ¼ of your perennials which flower in the spring, ½ that flower in the summer, and ¼ of them to flower in the fall.

For your shrubs, why don’t you consider a couple of native roses? Smooth Rose (Rosa blanda), or a Climbing Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera). Another suggestion, since they can look so lovely in the winter, is to have some ornamental grasses.

The following are a list of easy-to-grow perennial flowers. All are perfect for the beginning gardener, as they do well in sun or partial shade and in any decent soil. None of them require any special care

Plant Bloomtime Height Exposure
Candytuft April 10-25cm Sun
Columbine May 30-75cm Sun/partial shade
Bleeding Heart May 25-30cm Partial shade
Iris May 30-60cm Sun
Dianthus June 10-45cm Sun
Lupine June 60-120cm Sun/partial shade
Daylily June 30-90ccm Sun/partial shade
Astilbe July 30-120cm Partial shade
Delphinium July 150cm Sun
Shasta daisy July 100cm Sun
Purple coneflower August 60-150cm Sun/partial shade
Black-eyed Susan August 60-90cm Sun/partial shade
Sedum August 30cm Sun/partial shade

Note: the height is the height at time of flowering.

For more suggestions on flowers you may want to grow, may I suggest that you also refer to the following Toronto Master Gardener Guidebooks:

  1. Pollinator Garden: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide.
  2. Drought Tolerant Perennials: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide.
  3. Perennials for Full Sun
  4. Perennials for Shade in Dry or Moist Areas
  5. Long blooming Perennials

To get ideas for the shrubs you might want to grow, here are a couple of reference:

  1. Walter Muma. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. (Last updated 2012).
  2. City of Guelph. Healthy Landscapes – Plant List Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants