As you look out into your yard, the idea of creating a beautiful garden can seem daunting. However, this easy 3-step technique teaches you how to create small gardens within a larger garden area.
1. Do a Quick Survey
Where do you want your garden to be? It should definitely be somewhere that is enjoyable for you.
a. Where in your home do you sit? This is the likely spot that the new owners of your home will sit, too!
b. Is your backyard a “grill out with friends” kind of yard? Then you will want to create a nice “picnic” spot full of blossoms.
c. Is there a view your yard? This may make a perfect place to put a small garden.
Then you need to determine whether your garden is going to be formal or informal. Formal gardens tend to have flowers arranged in rows or other specific patterns. For instance, formal rose gardens tend to be in rectangles with walkways in between. Informal gardens on the other hand try to appear more natural.
With informal gardens, you can arrange your plants in:
a. Clumps – a circular group of three or more plants
b. Drifts – an elongated grouping of plants.
2. What Will Grow?
Now look at your proposed spot critically. How much sun does this area get? If it is full sun, then be sure to pick full-sun flowers. The same is true for partial shade and shade. Be sure to only pick plants that grow well in your hardiness zone.
Tip: For ‘Beginning Gardeners’ try your flower garden in full morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon. This is usually the easiest type of garden area to keep blooming.
Once you know your hardiness zone, you will need to decide if you want annuals or perennials.
Annuals complete their life cycle in one growing season. Seed germinates in the spring, the plant grows, flowers, produces seed and then dies. They are beautifully colored accent plants and flowers that are often used in borders, pots, window boxes, and at the bases of trees.
Perennials live for more than one growing season and come back each year. There are two types of perennials. Herbaceous perennials generally die to the ground at the end of the growing season but send up new shoots the following spring. Woody perennials, such as trees and shrubs, do not die back to the ground but get larger each year.
So, which is better? Annuals? Perennials?
Why choose??? Both are wonderful and trying to determine which is best is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Both have their advantages and unique characteristics that will make your garden beautiful.
Annuals are typically in bloom from early spring until late fall, bringing a bountiful array of color for the entire growing season. Replanting them each year seems to be a small price to pay for their beauty!
a. Popular annual flowers include petunias, marigolds, zinnias and impatiens.
b. If you’re looking for something a little more exotic than these traditional bedding plants, try spider flower (Cleome), gazania, vinca (Catharanthus) and lisianthus (Eustoma).
c.Some annuals are grown for their attractive foliage rather than flowers, including coleus, Joseph’s coat and snow-on-the-mountain.
d. You can add some edible interest with ornamental peppers, flowering cabbage and okra.
Tip: When selecting annuals for your flowerbeds, remember that the most interesting combinations come from mixing plant sizes and shapes. Flowers and foliage also offer a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures, and are effective when mixed.
Unlike annuals, perennials tend to have a short-lived bloom. One way to get around this is to have several different perennials with different blooming periods in your garden. There is no end to the colors, textures and sizes available in perennial plants.
a. Some of the most popular perennials include daylilies, hosta, peonies and garden mums.
b. For a spikey show of blue, try blazing star (Liatris).
c. For dramatic late-season color, try black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and purple coneflower (Echinacea).
Can’t decide whether to plant annuals or perennials? No need to pick one or the other. Annuals and perennials can be combined in your planting design to reap the best of both!
Tip: As you design your garden, keep in mind that bright, exciting colors make the garden appear smaller than it actually is. Cool tones, which are more soothing to the eye, will make your garden seem larger.
3. Think About Layers
Even the very smallest of flower gardens are prettiest when layers of flowers and grasses are used. The general rule of thumb is that the tallest plants need to be towards the rear of the garden and the smallest ones need to be up front. This is definitely true if the garden will only be viewed from one point of reference.
Island beds, those that will be viewed from various sides, typically have their tall plants in the center and smaller plants towards the outside edge.
Tip: When designing your garden, plant the center of the container first. Then work your way to the outer edges.
A general plan might include plants that are less than 1 foot tall in the front third of the bed, plants that are greater than 3 feet tall in the rear third of the bed, and plants between 1 and 3 feet tall in the center third of the bed. Keep in mind that this is just a rule of thumb. You do not have to plant all of the tall plants in a row nor all of the small plants in a row. You can bring some of the taller plants forward and plant some of the shorter plants farther back to create a more varied scene.
Tip: To create a smooth gradation of heights, the tallest plants should be no taller than about two-thirds the width of the bed, or half the width of the bed in the case of island beds.
That’s it. The 1, 2, 3 Plan for creating a flowerbed. All that is left is going to the nursery and putting in a bit of elbow grease! Good luck and happy planting!