Winter blues got you down? Unleash your green thumb with this garden layout guide! Design your dream oasis & watch it bloom come spring. Read on to dream and plan your green space’s potential!

Are you eager to get outdoors in the garden again this year? I’m a huge flower garden fanatic with a passion for all things leafy and lovely so I get you! January might seem like hibernation season, but true plant whisperers like ourselves can ignite that creative spark by putting our dreams to paper.

Instead of waiting for winter to end, let’s dream big about the next growing season, plan it out, and get ready for it. Have you thought about what you want your gardens to look like this year?

Before we dig into the dirt, it’s a good idea to plan it out. Because planning your garden layout and choosing the right plants is the holy grail for a thriving, happy garden.

So, grab your journals or notebooks, unleash your inner garden designer, and let’s dive in!

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Why Plan Your Flower Garden Layout in the Winter

Think January and February is all about hibernation and hot cocoa? Think again! While the world outside might be slumbering, January and February are like the hidden gems for planning your dream garden. Here’s why:

  • Clear Canvas: It’s much easier to envision your garden working from a blank sheet of paper than it filled with flowers (and maybe a few weeds). Sketching out paths, positioning focal points, and playing around with your garden layout is much easier to do in the theoretical sense than while we’re in the midst of the gardening season.
  • Plant-tastic Foresight: By planning, you can research planting times and your hardiness zone, ensuring you have the perfect plant palette ready for spring. No more last-minute panic or impulse purchases when shopping online or in garden centers. You’ll already know what you are doing and won’t succumb to over-buying what you don’t need.
  • Budgeting with a Bloom: Designing your garden in winter gives you time to research, compare prices, and hunt for deals on seeds, tools, and garden supplies. Your wallet will thank you come spring planting season.
  • Beating the Rush: Local nurseries and garden centers are less crowded in January, giving you one-on-one access to expert advice. Soak up their wisdom and avoid the spring-time frenzy!
  • Winter’s Spark of Inspiration: While the world outdoors sleeps, your imagination can run wild! Cozy up with garden books , browse Pinterest boards, scroll your socials, or watch a few YouTube videos, and let the creative juices flow. You might just design your most stunning garden yet.

So give yourself something to look forward to this spring. When you embrace the planning power now, your garden will blossom into a gorgeous outdoor space you’ll never want to leave. And you’ll feel grateful for the time you invested in thinking it all through so you grow things and create your outdoor living spaces with a lot more intention.

view of our 1850 farmhouse with front porch and beautiful flower gardens from the pool garden with green fence - has roses, bearded iris, buckeye tree, viburnum, and baptisia

January Garden Layout Guide: How to Plan Your Best Garden

If you are as eager as I am to get back outdoors in the garden, let’s do a little preplanning to prepare for our best year yet.

Last year, my husband built these incredible raised garden beds for me in the potager garden. I use some of the beds for growing my vegetables and herbs, and the other beds are for my cut flower garden. Since last year was the first year growing anything in them, I wasn’t sure how it would go and experimented with a few things.

But now that I have a better idea of where I want things? I want to spend time preparing the cut flower garden and vegetable garden layout in this garden room.

Since I’m ordering dahlias, as well as seeds to start them both indoors and through winter sowing, I want to calculate what I really need, so I don’t overbuy again this year. (Who am I kidding? I’ll still buy more than I think I need LOL!)

dahlia thomas edison and zinnias with fountain in the cut flower garden with arbor

Step 1: Know Your Landscape – Understanding Light and Soil Conditions

Think of your garden as an open-air stage. First, you gotta map your light conditions. Is it a sun-soaked balcony or a shady haven beneath towering trees? Understanding your light conditions is the key to choosing the right plants that will thrive.

Don’t forget to look at the USDA Hardiness Zone map – it recently changed for some localities like mine this year. If you are unfamiliar with it, the hardiness zone map is like a weather forecast for your garden that tells you which plants can handle your neck of the woods’ winter blues.

Next, get down and dirty with your garden space. Understand your soil conditions. Is it clay, loamy, rocky, acidic, alkaline, well-draining, etc.?

Stacy Ling with her book the bricks n blooms guide to a beauitful and easy care flower garden

If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

Remember, soil isn’t just dirt; it’s the foundation of your flower beds and growing spaces. A quick soil test can reveal its secrets, helping you choose the right amendments to turn it into a plant paradise.

Do you have any existing structures, slopes, drainage, and wind patterns that can become allies or arch-enemies if ignored? Because now is the time to embrace them.

Build raised beds around that old brick wall you want to plant but the soil is terrible. Or sculpt terraces down a gentle slope, create a windproof haven with strategically placed shrubs, and design a new garden room that you will enjoy year after year.

cut flower patch with calendula, larkspur, snapdragons in potager garden by fountain

Step 2: Plant Personalities: Finding the Perfect Match

Now, for the fun part: choosing your green and flowering companions. Remember, they’re like tiny roommates, each with unique needs and preferences. Sun-worshippers like marigolds and lavender will bask in the spotlight while shade-loving ferns and hostas crave dappled light.

But don’t forget to pair them based on their soil needs. Roses will thrive where zinnias might sulk. Check out plant databases, blogs, and local nurseries for expert advice – they’re your plant matchmakers!

But wait, there’s more! Don’t just stop at flowers. Think veggies, herbs, fruits, and even trees (if you have the growing space). Imagine juicy tomatoes ripening beside fragrant basil, or a cherry tree raining blossoms over your outdoor picnic.

Explore companion planting partners (think plant BFFs!) and plant succession (keeping the party going all season) for a garden that’s not just beautiful, but bountiful as well.

gomphrena rudbeckia and sedum autumn joy by front porch in fall
One of my favorite plant combinations for summer to fall: rudbeckia, sedum autumn joy and gomphrena

Step 3: Putting It on Paper – From Blueprint to Blooming Masterpiece

Grab your pencils, it’s time to sketch your masterpiece! Don’t worry about Picasso-level perfection – simple doodles or online garden planning tools are your friends.

Play with different garden layouts, try curved paths for a whimsical touch, or create a central focal point with a stunning sculpture or bubbling water feature. Remember, flexibility is key. Adapt your plan to your space and your dreams.

Speaking of paths, they should be wide enough for easy access (think wheelbarrows and excited gardeners!), yet meander gracefully through your garden oasis. Edgings like can add a touch of personality and define your garden spaces. So let your creativity flow.

How to Measure Your Garden

If you want to be more precise (and probably save time and money) when laying out your garden this winter, here’s how to calculate how many plants will fit and grow in your space.

  • Determine the length and width by measuring the area with a tape measure.
  • To get the total square footage, multiply the length by the width.
  • Look at plant tags (if you have them) or read plant descriptions online to determine the recommended spacing between plants based on their overall mature size.
  • Then, divide the total square footage by the recommended plant spacing to figure out the most plants that will fit in the given space.
  • Keep in mind, that number will depend on your garden’s shape as well as the design you choose. Round up or down if necessary to account for any gaps between plantings.

In my gardens, I lean towards rounding up, because to me, there’s always room for one more plant somewhere in the beds. And I’d rather have too many than too little plants when I’m working.

I also like to work a landscaping template because it helps you estimate the size of your plants so you know what will fit in your garden space. .

August cottage garden by the front porch with gomphrena, sedum autum joy and black eyed susans

Step 4: Planting the Seeds of Success

When spring arrives, it’s time to put your plan into action. Remember the key takeaways: match plants to the space you have and your growing conditions. Embrace diversity, and prioritize flowering times, heights, colors, and textures for a year-round symphony of color.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help at your local nursery, cooperative extension or master gardener hotline, or even your gardening friends on socials. They’re your garden gurus and may have some tips and tricks that you may not have considered.

The Final Bloom: From Sketch to Sprout

Congratulations! You’ve laid the foundation for a garden that’s not just green, but bursting with life. Remember, every great garden is a work in progress. They don’t happen overnight and take time to evolve.

Embrace the unexpected, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, have fun! Keep exploring, keep reading, and keep asking questions. My website, social media channels, and all the amazing resources out there are your garden guideposts.

So, what are you waiting for? January might be cold, but your garden dreams are hotter than chili peppers! Unleash your inner green thumb, and let’s turn those blank canvases into blooming masterpieces. Happy gardening!

zinnias in the potager by the cottage

More About Planning Your Garden Layout in the Winter

Are you planning your gardens for 2024? What are you hoping to grow this year? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

dahlia fleurel and labrynth in the cut flower garden
Dahlia Fleurel and Labrynth

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

Stacy Ling with her book the bricks n blooms guide to a beauitful and easy care flower garden

If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

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Garden layout guide with close up of different dahlia flowers in cut flower garden
chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

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vintage farmhouse with daffodils and flowering crabapple with stone wall and beautiful front porch in new jersey

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Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me?

I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden

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