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How To Start A Flower Garden

How To Start A Flower Garden

Surround your outdoor living space with color and fragrance this year by planting a new flower garden. Whether your space is a window box, a porch container, or a flower bed alongside your house, take time to plan your planting this spring for three seasons of blooms and foliage. Before you go the the Garden Center and buy a cart full of plants, take some time to review these planting basics. Plan the flower bed, prep the soil and research the plants that will grow best in your climate. Getting it right the first time means less work and expense in the long run. These three basics are essential for new gardeners and a timely refresher for experienced green thumbs.     1. Location is everything Your flower garden can be as small as a window box or a container on a patio. It could be a raised garden bed or a brand new flower bed. Whatever the size, know the sunlight in your chosen location. Spend time outside and note the light and shade in the chosen spot throughout the day. Remember that more sun equals more blooms. A south-facing flower bed that gets six hours of sunlight is ideal for drought-resistant perennials like coreopsis and coneflower. Filtered light works, too, you can just choose from a different group of plants like shade-loving hosta and heuchera. Flower borders can be narrow or wide, from two feet up to eight feet. A wider flower border offers more opportunity to layer plants in clumps for a cottage garden look. Just be sure to build in room to maneuver when you need to prune, deadhead, or divide perennials. Once you determine the location, amend and improve the soil before the plants go in the ground. If this is a window box or container, buy a well-draining, moisture-retentive potting mix for the best start. Raised garden beds need a special mix of organic material and nutrients. Buy a raised garden soil or mix your own from ingredients at the Garden Center. In a flower border, remove weeds and amend the soil. If this is a new bed, put down a layer of landscape fabric to block weeds and top with six inches or more of garden soil or top soil. In an existing bed, amend the soil with composted manure before planting.  The ideal location will need adequate drainage. A swampy site is good for water-loving plants, but most perennials like dry feet. Consider, too, how you will water the garden. Is a garden hose nearby, or will you need a watering can to water by hand? An irrigation system may make things easier, and this may affect your choice of plants.    2. Choose your plants Prioritize and plan your garden according to height, color and spacing. Place taller plants and shrubs in the back, smaller plants near the front.  Consider ornamental grasses like Muhly grass and Fireworks Pennisetum to add height and structure. Use small shrubs like distylium, nandina, loropetalum, and ligustrum to anchor a flower bed and contribute evergreen interest in winter. For help planning plant lists for your region, check out these stories: Perennials for Northern gardens Perennials for Southern gardens (including the South Texas Valley area) Perennials for Western gardens (including Western desert regions) Perennials for South Florida gardens If you’re planting a container or window box, this is the thriller, spiller, filler formula. Set the taller element near the back and fill in with colorful elements and a final fillip draping over the edge.   3. Keep it simple Plant low-maintenance, low-water perennials and annuals that will look good all season long. This is a garden, and even more than that, it’s your garden. It’s ever-evolving and will reward for years to come. Adding and subtracting plants is part of the process. One way to keep it simple is to begin with a few colors and add as you go along. When you select flowers, stay within a limited color palette. Three colors is a good place to start. For example, shades of yellow, orange and red can create a monochromatic look, as can a serene selection of pinks and pale purples. In the fall, you can add bulbs either in the ground or containers, for spring blooms. As you learn more, you may want to expand by adding edibles like kale and herbs to your flower bed. You can try growing from flowers from seed; zinnias are easy and provide a fiesta of color in the summer heat.   
how to start a flower garden 1

How To Start A Flower Garden

While starting a flower bed requires some planning and forethought beforehand, it’s not as difficult as one might think to build a flower bed from scratch. There are many types of flower gardens and no two are ever quite the same. You can plant a flower bed any way you like – big or small, curved or straight, raised or flat – whatever. Flower beds can also be changed as time goes on or as space permits. Let’s look at how to create a flower bed.
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How To Start A Flower Garden

Sunflowers Sunflower seeds are large and easy to handle, so they’re great for children or beginner gardeners. ‘Shock-O-Lat’, shown here, has giant, chocolate-brown blooms with golden tips. You can find sunflowers in many different sizes and colors; they grow happily in sunny gardens. Zinnia Look for zinnias in almost every color except blue; they’re also available in a variety of heights. The flowers may look like daisies or dahlias, spiders or pom poms and more. Plant them in the sun and space them as directed on the seed packet or label; good air circulation helps prevent disease. Marigolds Cheerful marigolds are easy to grow in sunny spots, brightening your garden with shades of yellow, red and gold as they bloom all summer long. African or American type marigolds grow 3 to 5 feet tall, but you can find shorter and more compact varieties. Pansies Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) add color to your garden while the weather is cool, in spring and fall. They’ll even overwinter in some regions if they’re mulched for protection. Give these undemanding little plants sun and soil that drains easily. Impatiens Impatiens ask little more than a shady spot and enough water to keep them from wilting. Plant these pretty annuals when the weather is reliably warm. In recent years, many impatiens (I. walleriana) have succumbed to downy mildew. ‘Big Bounce’ (pictured) is a new hybrid for shade to partial sun that resists this deadly disease. You’ll also find disease-resistant impatiens in the ‘Bounce’ series. Begonias Tough, can’t-kill summer begonias like ‘Surefire Rose’ are great for hanging baskets, containers or garden beds. Give them sun or shade and they’ll reward you with lots of lush color. Snapdragons Bring butterflies to your beginner’s garden with pink and cream snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) like ‘Twinny Appleblossom’. These plants bloom heavily and stand up to the often harsh weather in spring and fall. Daffodils Plant daffodil bulbs and stand back. They’ll burst into bloom each spring, filling your garden with color and fragrance. Give these hardy bulbs a sunny or partly sunny home in the garden or in containers; they’re best planted in the fall. Cosmos Add cosmos plants to your garden or grow these daisy-like flowers from seeds. These annuals are so undemanding, they’ll bloom even in poor soils. They like full sun (but appreciate afternoon shade in hot climates) and tolerate drought once they’re up and growing. Geraniums Great in window boxes, hanging baskets, pots or the garden, geraniums are low-maintenance plants. Grow these perky flowers for color from spring until frost; they prefer full sun, but may need some afternoon shade in hot regions. Morning Glories To help morning glory seeds sprout, soak them in tepid water the night before you plant or file the hard seed coat to open it. Once they’re started, morning glories can take care of themselves. But because they drop their seeds and self-sow readily, be careful where you plant them or you’ll be pulling volunteers for years! To help control unwanted seedlings, mow, rake or heavily mulch the ground underneath the plants. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia) Blanket flowers (Gaillardia) are native wildflowers in parts of the U.S., and they grow robustly in full sun. These butterfly magnets bloom from early summer into fall. Daylilies These sun-loving perennials bloom dependably in almost any kind of soil, as long as it drains easily. Best of all, you can divide them after a time and expand your garden.
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How To Start A Flower Garden

1. Get an idea. Is this going to be a vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? If you choose to grow flowers, do you want annuals, which you must replant each year but which give color most of the summer? Or do you prefer perennials, which have a shorter bloom time but come back year after year? You can mix any of the above—after all, it’s your garden. Just one bit of advice: Start small. ‘Tis better to succeed just a little, than to fail grandly. 2. Pick a place. Almost all vegetables and most flowers need about six hours of full sun each day. Spend a day in your chosen spot and watch how the sun moves across the space. It might receive more sun than you think. But don’t despair if your lot is largely sunless; many plants tolerate shade. Check plant tags or ask the staff at your local garden center to find out how much sun a plant requires. Put the garden where you can’t ignore its pleas for attention—outside the back door, near the mailbox, by the window you stare out when you dry your hair. Place it close enough to a water spigot that you won’t have to drag the hose to the hinterlands.

How To Start A Flower Garden

How To Start A Flower Garden
How To Start A Flower Garden
How To Start A Flower Garden

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