Transform your backyard with a new garden bed

Well-planned garden beds can give your backyard both structure and beauty, and solve all sorts of tricky problems, from screening out your neighbours to disguising an ugly fence. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Make a plan

Think about what you hope to achieve. Do you want an edible garden, a pretty focal point or simply to block an unwanted view? Does the bed need to be easily accessible, such as from the kitchen? Knowing its purpose will help determine the location, size and shape of your bed, and help you choose the right plants. “Don’t forget to consider your garden style,” says garden expert Matt Carroll of Hortiman. “A formal garden demands order, symmetry and defined borders, while a cottage garden calls for a kaleidoscope of colours and loose, relaxed edging.” 

garden bed

For impact in a green bed, opt for plants of different heights, with a range of forms and leaf shapes

Pick the perfect spot

Identify how much sun your garden receives, which will determine the garden bed layout and plant choice. A north-facing garden enjoys full sun for most of the day, but hot afternoon sun will scorch a west-facing bed. “There are plant options for most situations, so it’s just a matter of understanding your light conditions,” says Angie Thomas, horticulture consultant to Yates. “Roses and citrus love full sun (at least six hours), whereas daphnes and hydrangeas prefer dappled sun.” 

garden bed

Curved beds suit an informal style, while dense plantings will help crowd out weeds and fill the space with colour and interest 

The size of it

Accessibility, proportion and, of course, available space will all play a part in the overall size of your bed. Width wise, you should be able to reach across it comfortably for weeding and planting, so for a border that might only be accessible from one side, up to 100cm is about right, double that if the bed is centrally positioned. A handy trick to find the right proportions to suit the size of your garden is to use a hose to map out your proposed plot, and adjust it until it looks right from all angles, near and far, This is also a useful tool if you want to create a shaped bed.

lawn with garden and fountains

Trimmed box hedging makes a neat green border for a formal space

In-ground or raised garden beds

In-ground beds are better for larger shrubs and trees, as the depth of a raised bed may not let roots spread. A raised bed is great for a border, especially if you want to get a head start on screening out next door. “Raised beds can be installed on most outdoor surfaces, whether grass or concrete,” says Angie. Plus, if your soil is hard to work with, you can fill the bed with quality bagged garden soil and soil improvers, while you work at a height kinder to knees and back. For the bed itself, kits are an easy option. Metal-framed models such as those from Birdies and The Organic Garden Co come in a range of sizes.

Check your soil before you plant

Not all earth is created equal, but it can be improved. Before planting, fork in a mix of a general plant fertiliser, organic compost and well-rotted manure and incorporate well. For clay soils, apply a gypsum product to help improve drainage. Soil health is important, so ensure you look after it and apply products at least twice a year. Edging will help stop grass wandering through the beds. “Bricks are classic, while timber stakes keep things natural,” says Angie. For a more modern look, slimline edging such as Tuff Edge aluminium is virtually invisible when installed. 

Layer your plants

Defining your garden bed with clever plantings will help to give it structure. Look to create layers and depth with a mix of height and forms, adding interest and texture with different leaf and flower shapes. “For a formal look, choose shrubs that can be trimmed into neat and straight levels, like English box or westringia,” suggests Angie. “For a relaxed feel, select plants with varying foliage colours and flowers, like grevilleas, lavender and loropetalum.” When planting, watering in with a tonic such as Seasol can help get plants off to a flying start. 

Recommended shrubs

Give your new bed form and structure with a well-chosen shrub or two.

Camellia (Camellia sasanqua):

Camellias have gorgeous blooms and evergreen foliage to 1m (dwarf variety). 
Suits: warm and cool temperate climates.

camellia flower

Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica):

Hardy, grows to 2m and thrives in coastal areas are some features of the Indian hawthorn. 
Suits: subtropical, warm and cool temperate, and cool climates.

indian hawthorn plant

Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’:

Long-flowering, bird-attracting shrub. Grows to 1.5m.
Suits: subtropical, warm and cool temperate climates.

grevillea plant

Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’:

Mona lavender is fast growing (up to 80cm) adds colour to semi-shade. 
Suits: subtropical and warm temperate climates.

lavendar

Acacia ‘Limelight’:

Dwarf variety grows to around 1m with unique, lime-green cascading foliage. 
Suits: warm and cool temperate, and cool climates. 

acacia plant

Get started on your new garden bed

Now you know our tips and tricks on how to create a garden bed, head into your local Bunnings store to pick up everything you need to complete this project.

How to build a garden bed 05:37

Planting & Growing How to build a garden bed Transform your outdoor area by learning how to build a garden bed. It’s easy to do, just follow our step-by-step guide.

philodendron

Planting & Growing Discover 12 plants that are the best for indoors Striking foliage and stunning colour isn’t just reserved for the garden. There’s a wide variety of indoor plants you can use to bring colour and life to your home explains Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katrina Gatt.

Person planting spinach 03:11

Planting & Growing How to grow vegetables Watch our step-by-step guide and find out everything you need to know about how to grow fresh vegetables in your garden.

Person trimming the hedge with battery shears 01:28

Planting & Growing How to trim hedges Hedges are an excellent way to add shape to your garden. Here are a couple of tips to effectively trim and maintain a hedge.

Person putting on protective edging on the raised garden bed 01:38

Planting & Growing How to build a raised garden bed Building a raised garden bed is a simple project you can do yourself. Learn how to build a raised garden bed with this guide from Bunnings Warehouse.

Person adding compost and manure to the soil 02:01

Planting & Growing How to improve sandy soil Good soil is the foundation for any healthy garden. We can show you how to improve sandy soil to retain more nutrients and water.

succulents

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for succulents Succulents come in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes, will grow just about anywhere and don’t need much looking after, making them a plant that’s perfect for even the most novice gardener. If you’re new to succulents, here are some tips from...

Person cutting the corrugated edging 03:08

Planting & Growing How to install garden edging Garden edging can help to make your garden beds look neat and tidy. We’ll show you how to install plastic or corrugated garden edging around your garden.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pallet coffee table

Outdoor Living Five D.I.Y. ideas to update your outdoors Autumn is a great time of the year to tick off a few D.I.Y. projects from your to-do list. Here are a few good ideas to get you started.

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

orchid

Planting & Growing How to care for orchids Orchids are a low-maintenance flower that can be grown indoors or outside in a protected location. And, with a little care, they will provide you with lots of colour.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content