Flower gardens can make an eye-catching focal point in any landscape, provided that proper planning has been done.
Experienced designers understand that designing plants that attract the eye, year-round interest, staggered bloom times and color combinations is paramount to creating stunning spaces.
Gardeners strive to craft designs that harmonize with the surrounding landscape while drawing visitors in to explore. Creating an immersive space that draws in its visitors is an art that many gardeners aspire to master.
At the core of every successful flower garden lies finding its ideal location. Preferably an area that gets at least six hours of full sun (preferably more), since most blooms need exposure to direct light for them to bloom properly and thrive.
If your yard is shaded in the afternoon, you can still create an eye-catching garden by selecting shade-loving plants like hostas, begonias and bleeding hearts to add color. Or you could opt for perennials like zinnias and marigolds or annuals like nasturtiums which bloom throughout summer and then fade once blooming season ends.
When planning a flower garden, it’s essential to understand your USDA growing zone so you can select plants that will flourish in your location. Also think about whether you want your flower bed to be an eye-catching centerpiece of your landscape, or more subdued and complement other elements like trees, shrubs or patio furniture in the yard.
Your flower garden should have enough light so the plants can flourish and blossom. If there isn’t enough natural lighting available in your yard, consider installing an artificial lighting system to illuminate the space and bring life and joy into the area.
As part of your planning stage, be sure to thoroughly research the USDA growing zones to avoid spending both time and money on plants that won’t thrive in your climate.
Maintaining the timing and sequence of flowering in your border is also key to success. While we might wish for colorful borders to bloom from early spring until frost arrives, most bulbs, shrubs and perennials only bloom for short periods.
Repetition of plant shapes can create visual unity in a flower garden, and one way the world-renowned Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf recommends is repeating the shapes of spires and umbels to achieve this goal. Doing this helps create a cohesive look that’s both harmonious and dynamic, as well as making individual flowers easier to notice. When possible, incorporate different foliage textures, such as sword-like gladiolus leaves or lacy bleeding heart leaves for maximum visual interest.
Flowering plants can be picky about their environment. To thrive, they require an abundant source of plant nutrients – something a good quality bag of garden soil provides easily and can even be enhanced further with general fertilizers to give their blooming process an extra boost.
Consider selecting a soil with reduced clay for easier planting and more manageable watering during hot summer days. A mix containing more organic material may provide improved drainage while helping your plants retain moisture for extended periods.
Gardeners who prefer themed flower beds often select colors with specific meaning; others opt for an eclectic mixture to achieve an informal aesthetic. Either way, curving lines work best over straight ones to guide the eye around the space and guide its focus. When considering different foliage textures – for instance sword-like gladioli create a striking contrast against soft green iris leaves – when planning their color schemes.
As any living thing does, flower gardens require water. But just like anything else, water must be carefully managed in order to avoid wilting and promote root development; too much or too little may result in wasteful oversaturation, while too little causes stress-inducing drought conditions (The Old Farmer’s Almanac).
To avoid overwatering your garden, invest in a soil moisture sensor or meter. These devices allow you to know exactly how much water each area requires – eliminating guesswork that leads to either over- or under-watering your flowers.
Watering your flower garden at night is the optimal method of watering as less of it evaporizes in direct sunlight (via SF Gate). Checking soil moisture levels daily is another way to ensure you don’t overwater, while regularly weeding and pruning will keep it healthy and vibrant.