Building a flower garden is more than clearing a spot of land, throwing down a handful of seeds, covering them up and watering them, though some surprisingly pretty gardens have resulted from such haphazard techniques. But the best gardens are built with thoughtfulness, patience, farsightedness and a bit of imagination. Here are some tips on planting a garden for dummies:
Why Does the Homeowner Want a Garden?
The answer seems obvious. A healthy, well-tended flower garden is beautiful. It needs no other reason to exist. But besides beauty, some gardeners want their gardens to produce flowers to be cut for floral arrangements or to attract butterflies or birds. Other gardeners want flowers that can be used medicinally or in cooking. What the garden is for greatly influences what kinds of flowers are planted there.
Where is the Garden?
Most homeowners who have gardens have one out front for display and curb appeal and another in the back to be enjoyed by the family and their guests. Does the homeowner have a lot of lands to play with, or are they living in a town where there’s room for a small garden in the back and some plantings out front? Where the garden is located can determine the flowers that are planted there. A narrow walled garden, for example, probably won’t get as much sun as an open garden, so the homeowner might need to consider plants that can thrive in partial shade.
ClimateThe climate of an area will affect what can grow in the garden. The USDA and other organizations offer hardiness zone maps. These maps tell a potential gardener which plants can live through the lowest temperatures in a certain zone. For example, a plant that can grow in hardiness zone 8 can withstand a temperature of about 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Most plants have a wide range of hardiness zones in which they can thrive, but these maps don’t tell a gardener how much precipitation an area gets monthly or yearly. They don’t tell a gardener the altitude of the area where they plan to grow their garden or how much and what type of wind is common to the area. Not many flowers, for example, can tolerate the salt that’s found in a wind that comes off the sea, though some can. If the garden is found at the bottom of a hill, a cold wind can roll down the hill in the winter and create a frost trap even in a mild climate. What is the garden, like other buildings or trees, may also inhibit how much sun the garden gets throughout the day.
A conscientious gardener who doesn’t know the makeup of the soil may want to get it tested at their nearest Cooperative Extension Service. This test lets the gardener know the soil’s pH and nutrients. Experts consider the best soil to have a pH of around 6. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, and anything above 7.5 may be too alkaline, and everything below 5.8 might be too acidic. However, some plants do best in soil that would quickly discourage others. Buttercups like wet soil, while Heather likes soil that is acidic and low in nutrients. One way for a gardener to get around all the problems around soil is to grow their flowers in pots, and keep them out in the garden.
Making a Survey
Creating an outline survey of the plot of land that contains the home, any outbuildings, existing trees and other structures that the garden will be planned around may need professional gardening services. On the other hand, if the garden is simple and doesn’t require a lot of earth being moved, gradients, hardscaping, water features or any other feature that’s complicated and expensive to create, the gardener can create a survey of their property either on their computer or even by hand on a drawing pad.
The gardener should plan the color scheme of the garden much like they plan the color scheme of the interior of their home. But unlike the interior of the home, garden color usually doesn’t last. Most flowers don’t last more than a month and some gardeners might like to learn how to make flowers bloom faster. One good idea is to add plants that flower in sequence, so the garden can have color throughout much of the year. These are often a mix of perennials and annuals. There are even plants, such as hellebore and Carolina jessamine, that blossom in winter in milder climates.
About the author: Caroline is a freelance writer. A side from working from her own business, she likes to use social media, cooking and read travel books.