How to Create a Moon Garden

closeup of moon flower with full moon in the background

Too busy to stop and smell the roses? Plant a moon garden. A moon garden shines bright after a hectic workday, while other gardens disappear into the night. 

Learn how to create a moon garden so you can spend your evening hours admiring the moon garden’s sparkling reflections, fragrant perfumes, and moonlit flowers.

What is a moon garden?

A moon garden is a garden you can enjoy after sundown because the moonlight accentuates the plants. As your butterfly garden or wildflower garden fades into the darkness, the moon garden glows beneath the moonlight. 

The best moon gardens feature: 

  • White flowers
  • Night bloomers
  • Fragrant blossoms
  • Silver, variegated, or gray foliage

Remember that moon garden plants don’t need to fall into every category listed above. A white night bloomer is perfect for a moon garden, even if it lacks a strong fragrance. 

How to build a moon garden

Building a moon garden is like creating a calming paradise. Have fun and get creative with your garden design. Here are 10 tips on how to make the most relaxing and calming of moon gardens:

1. Pick the right location

Like building any other flower garden, you need to find the right location. But this time, it’s not only about the view. 

A key factor to consider is where the moon shines brightest in your landscape and at what time. You don’t want to grow your moon garden where trees or structures block the moonlight. If an area only receives moonlight way past your bedtime, that’s not an ideal location either. 

So, in a nutshell, the location for your moon garden should:

  • Be a nice view
  • Receive plenty of moonlight during the hours you want to enjoy the garden

2. Highlight white flowers

shallow focus of a white locus
young ho seo | Pixabay

White blooms are the secret to making your moon garden glow at night. The moon illuminates the white petals against the night’s backdrop better than any other color. As your eyes adjust to your surroundings, you’ll see these pale flowers create different hues in the moonlight than they do in the daytime. 

White flowers perfect for a moon garden include: 

  • Snowdrops 
  • Petunias
  • Shasta daisies
  • Hydrangea 
  • ​​Nicotiana
  • Phlox
  • Sweet alyssum

Pro Tip: Add visual interest to your moon garden by growing white flower vines up a trellis.  

3. Select night bloomers

Most plants close their petals at night, which doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy their beauty after a long day a work. When you grow night-blooming flowers in your moon garden, you’ll never miss a show. 

Stunning night bloomers to grow in your moon garden include: 

  • Four o’clocks
  • Moonflower
  • Evening primrose
  • Night-blooming jasmine

4. Include fragrant flowers

As you take an evening stroll through your moon garden, you may notice your senses strengthen in the dark, particularly your sense of smell. 

Turn your moon garden into a perfume wonderland by planting sweet-smelling flowers. These flowers will smell sweet during the day, too, but you’ll swoon over their nighttime potency. 

Give your nose a treat with these fragrant plants: 

  • Peonies
  • Lilac
  • Bearded Iris
  • Mock orange
  • Roses
  • Gardenia

5. Add bright foliage

The moon reflects beautifully on variegated, gray, and silver foliage. You can admire the shimmering leaves and various textures as you relax in your nighttime garden. 

Showcase these foliage plants in your moon garden: 

  • Variegated hosta
  • ‘Silver Mound’ artemisia 
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Moonglow Juniper
  • Dusty miller
  • Silver sage

6. Add soothing sounds

Not only will your nose smell more in the dark, but your ears will perk up, too. Adorn your moon garden with musical wind chimes and rustling ornamental grasses. Turn your moon garden into a calming musical paradise where you can ease your mind. 

7. Include water features

closeup of illuminated water fountain
S. Hermann & F. Richter | Pixabay

There’s something about the trickling sounds of water that humans love. Enjoy the calming effects of a babbling water fountain or small pond as you relax in your moon garden. 

But water features aren’t just meant for the ears –– they look spectacular under the moonlight too. As the full moon reflects off the pond’s rippling surface and the splashing fountain glitters in the night, the mesmerizing sights will turn your moon garden into a moonlit oasis. 

8. Install white walking paths

You might be wondering: How can you take delight in your moon garden when you can’t see where you’re walking? 

Like white flowers, white walking paths gleam in the moonlight. Installing a white paver walkway or river rock path is just what your garden needs so you can enjoy it safely. 

Brownie points: A white river rock path is an excellent choice if you want to hear satisfying crunches each time you step. 

9. Limit landscape lights

Bring the stars down to your moon garden with twinkling landscape lights. Hang string lights between the trees, light up the walkways with solar path lights, or add charm with golden lanterns. 

Pro Tip: You don’t want to overdo it with artificial lighting. Otherwise, the lights will wash out the natural moonlight and diminish its effects on your garden. Your senses also won’t be as enhanced. The right dose of landscape lighting should make you feel safe and cozy in your garden.

10. Sprinkle in garden ornaments

Give your moon garden some character with fun garden ornaments. Tell a story with two statue frogs in love, invite birds to nestle in brass birdhouses, or enhance the moon’s beams with gazing balls. 

Pro Tip: Add a bench to your moon garden so you can sit and admire your ornaments and flowering plants. 

What are the advantages of a moon garden?

A moon garden is a spectacular addition to the landscape. But so are many other gardens (they’re all pretty beautiful). Here are some reasons why you might prefer growing a moon garden over a different garden type: 

  • More time to enjoy the flowers: Most flowers close their petals at night, which doesn’t give you a large window of time to admire your garden after a long workday. Most moon garden plants open their flowers in the evening, which is excellent timing if evening hours are when you’re home the most. 
  • Nighttime pollinators: Nocturnal moths love to visit moon gardens, and their moonlit wings look stunning against the white flowers. The darkness also amplifies the sounds of buzzing pollinators. 
  • Candy for your nose: Moon gardens smell wonderful at night because your sense of smell grows stronger. You won’t have that same experience with a daytime garden.
  • It doesn’t easily clash: It’s hard for a white flowerbed to throw off an existing landscape design. If your landscape is already full of color and you’re worried about throwing off the color scheme, plant an all-white moon garden. 

What are the disadvantages of a moon garden?

A moon garden’s benefits sound pretty great, but the garden does have its disadvantages. Some green thumbs prefer not to grow this garden type for the following reasons: 

  • Not always ideal for small yards: A moon garden’s white flowers are best grown in the masses. Why? Because grouping the flowers together creates a stronger glow in the moonlight. Planting a few flowers here or there isn’t as striking. If the landscape isn’t large enough to sustain large groups of flowers, a moon garden might not be ideal. 
  • Not the most colorful garden: If you find white masses of flowers a bit unexciting, then you might enjoy the colors of a more vibrant garden, such as a butterfly garden.
  • Best enjoyed at nighttime: If you work the night shift, you might not get a chance to see your moon garden blossom at sunset. You might prefer a garden you can enjoy during the daytime hours. 

FAQ about moon gardens

1. Does growing a moon garden mean gardening by the moon?

Despite their similar names, a moon garden and gardening by the moon are not the same. As we’ve described above, a moon garden is a garden that the moonlight accentuates. Gardening by the moon means planting or harvesting your garden according to the moon’s cycle. 

You do not need to garden by the moon to have a successful moon garden.

2. Do moon gardens grow back every year?

If you’re growing annual plants in your moon garden, you’ll likely need to replace them the following growing season. If it’s perennial plants you’re growing, expect them to grow back the next growing season. Keep in mind that the number of years a perennial returns will vary depending on the type of plant. 

3. What’s the best time of year to enjoy a moon garden?

You can enjoy your moon garden spring through fall if you plan your bloom times just right. 

When choosing which plants to grow in your garden, check their expected bloom times. If all the flowers you grow bloom in spring, then you won’t have much of a garden to enjoy come summer and autumn. But if you plant flowers with various bloom times, you can admire the show for months.

4. How does a moon garden benefit the environment?

Moon gardens offer many environmental benefits. Here’s how:

– They encourage nighttime pollinators, such as bats and moths. 

– A moon garden made of native plants greatly benefits the environment. Native plants have deep root systems that help conserve water and minimize rainwater runoff. Native plants also require fewer pesticides and fertilizers than non-native plants.

– Like most gardens, moon gardens absorb carbon dioxide and clean the air we breathe. 

– Shrubs and small trees in a moon garden provide shelter for furry animals, insects, and birds. 

Call in the pros for help

Designing your moon garden requires focus and attention, from choosing your plants to hanging your outdoor string lights. Don’t let overgrown turf or weeds become a distraction. Hire a local lawn care professional to cover your lawn chores so you can concentrate on your landscape’s beautiful new addition. 

Main Photo Credit: Gerry Bishop | Shutterstock

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is an artist, writer, and nature lover. She enjoys teaching readers about the importance of eco-friendly lawn care, integrated pest management, biodiversity, and sustainable landscaping.