Learn2Grow has created a great free program that can help you get that amazing outdoor living space of your dreams, and it’s as easy as “planting by numbers.” Best of all, you don’t need to be a plant expert, experienced gardener or even have a design background to create a gorgeous garden all on your own! It doesn’t even matter how large or small your outdoor living space is. If you’ve got an ordinary back yard, a boring patio, an empty window box – any outdoor space you want to beautify – Design by Function is for you, because it’s about you.

Design by Function front entrance

This front bed makes for an inviting entrance with great curb appeal.

Photo Credit: Mark A. Miller

Let’s face it: Dreaming of the perfect garden is easy – creating it from a blank sheet of paper can be downright intimidating. Design software can be just as frustrating, and hiring a professional might not be within your budget. The fact is you already know what plants and colors you like – you just want to know how to group your favorite ones together in a pleasing and functional design without spending too much time or money.

Well, now you can. Here’s how it works:

Take a look at the free professionally-designed garden plans on Learn2Grow, and find the one that best meets your goal. Our designs range from window box and patio gardens to themed planting beds and an entire front foundation plan, so there’s bound to be an idea (or more) that works for you!

Once you’ve picked your ideal plan, just print it out (yes, as in, “take it…it’s free!”) and bring it to your local garden center. Each plan identifies plants according to their specific function or habit in that particular design (a list of examples follows).

Using your design as a guide, you just need to pick the plants that you like that match up to the function indicated on the design – creating a personalized “design by function” that matches your tastes and regional needs, no matter where you live. When you get your plants home, use your design plan to follow where your selections should be planted. It really is like “plant by numbers” – and it couldn’t be easier!

Here are the definitions for the “Function” you’ll find on Learn2Grow design plans:

Feature – These plants are the focal point of the landscape. They’re placed in prominent locations to provide interest and a unique look. Smaller selections are often used near entryways or courtyards. Larger selections are used at the corner of buildings or in stand-alone beds within the landscape.

Screening – These plants typically grow more than 6 feet tall and have evergreen foliage from top to bottom. Their most common use is to divide property lines, provide privacy or create a windbreak.

Flowering – Known primarily for their blossoms, these plants bring a strong visual appeal to the landscape. Their most common use is to group several together, creating an amazing color show with a lot of impact.

Accent – These beauties typically offer unique foliage and/or an interesting growth habit. Unlike many flowering plants that have a short bloom period, accent plants provide season-long interest.

Hedge/Foundation – These plants grow naturally below eye level or can be easily pruned to stay at that height. The most common use is to plant them near the house to soften the foundation’s appearance. A less common use is to create a boundary between properties or to segment a portion of the landscape.

Here are the definitions for the “Habit” you’ll find on the Learn2Grow design plans:

Mounding – Annuals and perennials that grow into a full rounded or mounding shape.

Trailing – Rambling plants that trail nicely and work well in the landscape as a groundcover, in a hanging basket or as the base for a container planting.

Upright – All plants that grow tall and have an upright shape. (Grasses and irises would fall in this category.) The plants add the “exclamation point” to a landscape.

So print out your plan, take it to your local garden center, and go shopping for the plants that you like best that fit the particular plant functions and habits specified in your design. When you get home, just plant your picks according to the design.

And note: While all plant tags offer general care instructions, don’t stop there! Once you pick your plants and bring them home, detailed care and maintenance information can be found by entering either the common or botanical name into the search box of the Learn2Grow Plant Database. Never again will you have to wonder when to fertilize or if you need to prune – our Plant Database has it all, with over 57 fields of information at the click of a mouse!

You know what you want your garden to be and how you want to use it. Why pay someone else to create a vision for you? Design by Function will get you growing in the right direction so you can enjoy your outdoor living space the way you intend to. Check out all of the design plans you have to choose from, and find the right one for you!