Born on 12 September 1892 as the fourth of eight children to Carl and Therese Franzen in Witten an der Ruhr, Germany, Franzen-Heinrichsdorff (née Franzen) grew up in a conservative bourgeois family. As a child, she was granted a small plot of land within the large family garden, in which she designed a small garden she called Irmenfried, or "Irma’s Peace." Opposed to strict rules in monastery schools, Franzen-Heinrichsdorff was attracted by the Elmwood School of Gardening program in England, and trained there from 1913 to 1914. In 1924 she was the first woman to graduate from the landscape architecture program at the Horticultural College at Berlin-Dahlem. In 1925 she married landscape architect Gustav Heinrichsdorff, whom she divorced in 1930.
Franzen-Heinrichsdorff’s career was put on hold when, on her way to becoming a well-known landscape architect in Germany, her father forced her to stop pursuing this work in 1929. She then operated a children's holiday home at Dangast, Germany until 1953. With the help of her son Gernot Heinrichsdorff and two of her foster children, Peter and Jochen Wurfl, she immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1953. In early 1954 she and her son moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she continued her career as a landscape architect. She drew the plans, including details, for commissions her son acquired. He established The Garden Construction and Landscape Company in 1961 and became a registered landscape architect for the state of Colorado in 1964. For the commissions, Franzen-Heinrichsdorff used her "Landscape Ideas," a set of designs she had assembled in an acquisition book for private clients. Many of her designs included perennial plants and rock gardens. Franzen-Heinrichsdorff died in Colorado Springs on 5 March 1983.