Beginning a new flower garden requires planning and preparation to ensure success. Whether you plant perennial or annual flowers, a properly prepared bed requires less maintenance throughout the gardening season and is prone to fewer problems. Choosing a suitable location, plants and maintenance schedule ensures the garden remains productive and healthy throughout the spring and summer. While each type of plant has its own care requirements, many flowers have similar needs, and basic care practices benefit nearly all plant varieties.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Choose a planting site that drains well, isn’t prone to standing water and receives the amount of sun required for the types of flowers you are growing. Most flowers need full sunlight, but can tolerate afternoon shade. Find the exact light and soil requirements on the plant labels or online, or ask the nursery staff for help.
Clear old plant material, weeds and rocks from the garden site.
Spread a 1-inch layer of compost over the garden bed with a rake. Apply a balanced, general-purpose fertilizer on top of the compost, at the rate recommended on the label for your garden size. Work the compost and fertilizer into the top 12 inches of the soil with a shovel or rake. The compost adds trace nutrients to the soil and loosens the soil texture to provide better drainage.
Water the bed until it is evenly moist to a 12-inch depth. Slow, gentle watering soaks into the soil without pooling on the surface.
Lift the flower plants from their nursery pots. Place your hand over the top of a pot with the plant between your fingers. Turn the pot upside down and slide the plant out into your hand.
Dig each planting hole to the same depth as the plant’s root ball, but make it slightly wider. Space the planting holes at the distance recommended on the plant labels, or as recommended by nursery staff. Planting too closely together can inhibit blooming and makes the bed more difficult to tend. Many flowering plants look most attractive when planted in clusters of three to five plants.
Set the flower in the planting hole so the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface or sits slightly below soil level. Fill in around the roots with soil. Lightly firm the soil surface around the plant with your hands.
Water the bed thoroughly after planting, moistening it to a 6-inch depth. Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch over the flower bed, using a rake. The mulch prevents weeds and helps keep the moisture in the soil.
Water the garden once a week, or when the top 1/2 inch of soil begins to dry out. Check soil moisture by inserting a pencil or stick 6 inches into the soil. If dirt sticks to the pencil, the soil is moist.
When designing your bed, plant taller plants in the back of one-sided beds or in the center of island beds. Plant lower-growing flowers in front of or around the tall plants.
Start with a small flower bed and gradually expand its size each year as you gain more gardening experience.
Plants grow as perennials, biennials or annuals. Perennial flowers return each year. Biennials bloom the second year after planting, then die. Annual flowers only survive for one year.
Weed flower beds regularly. Weeds rob nutrients and moisture from your flower plants.