Flower Garden Theme Ideas And Design

Tips and techniques for planting and maintaining flower gardens and beds - a great way to add color to your yard in any climate.

Planting flowers is one of the best things you can do for your yard. Flower beds give an instant splash of color, can be easy to maintain and will bring a smile to your face every time you see them. But there are many possibilities when planning a flower bed for your yard, and many approaches to take.

When you are considering a site in your yard for a new flower bed, think about the kinds of flowers you might like to grow and what conditions they would thrive in. If you're planning a bed of colorful sun-lovers like zinnias, sunflowers and roses, don't situate your bed in the darkest spot in the yard. On the other hand, if you like the cool elegance of impatiens, azaleas and spring-blooming bulbs, choose a shady spot. No matter what the conditions are in your yard, though, you should be able to find plants that will survive there. Ask your local garden supply salespeople for plant recommendations as they will know what plants work best in your part of the world.

When you have chosen your spot, you will probably need to prepare the soil by tilling or scraping off any grass that is growing in that area, removing rocks and adding nutrients with fertilizer and compost. You can get really fancy and have a soil test done to see what nutrients are lacking in your soil, but most flowers are not that picky (other than azaleas, rhododendrons and other acid-lovers who will benefit from adding soil acidifier before planting). Well-drained soil that is airy enough for their roots to break through and has some level of nutrients will be about all most plants need.

So what kind of plants should you plant? The easy answer is to plant whatever you like. But if you don't know what you like, spend some time looking at books or Web sites on garden design to get an idea of color combinations and flower shapes that you like. Also try to find a gardening magazine targeted at the area where you live to see what kinds of plants grow well in your region. You don't want to fall in love with an English country style garden, for instance, only to find that none of the plants will grow in the desert where you live.

If you live in a harsh climate, one where it is very hot or very cold, or where there is a lot of rain or very little rain, you will find yourself quite limited in the number and types of plants you can grow. But some specialty garden companies are developing more plants that can withstand these harsh conditions. Every year it seems like there are more plants available for people living in the coldest zones. (The zone is simply a USDA designation that tells you roughly what plants will grow in your area. If you don't know your zone, do a web search for "plant hardiness zone map".)

But if you are one of the people who live in the milder parts of the world, you will find a seemingly limitless variety of plants from which to choose. Again your choices depend first on what you like and the look you are going for. If you like the country garden style, you will want to choose climbing roses, lavender and other beautiful, structured, highly fragrant plants. If you want more of a wildflower/prairie look, go for sunflowers, black-eyed susans, daisies, Echinacea and bluebells, or whatever grows in the highway medians near your home. If you want color in the spring, plant bulbs such as tulips, iris and daffodils.

There are a lot of people out there, most of them are professional landscapers, who will tell you that there are certain distinctive styles of flower beds and you should pick a style and stick with it. But really there are only two styles, formal and informal. Formal gardens will have more hedges and look more groomed than a wild, colorful informal garden. The best of the informal gardens (such as those set up for wildflowers to mimic a field) aren't even weeded, they are simply left to grow as nature intended. If you think weeds are ugly you might want to save this type of garden for a corner of your yard where people can't see it, but then you will be more likely to pick the flowers anyway so it's a good place to put your garden.

This brings up another good point. Do you just want flowers that look pretty or do you want a cutting garden, a special flower bed where flowers are grown to bring into the house? You might choose different plants if the flowers are going to stay outside (highly scented ones even though someone in your family is sensitive, for instance) than you would if you were going to bring them inside. For a cutting garden, choose only flowers you love. Don't grow something just because its popular or other people think it's pretty if you don't enjoy it.

Another thing to consider when planning your garden is when different flowers bloom in the season. As you know some flowers bloom early in the spring, sometimes even before the snow is gone. Others explode in the full heat of summer, while still others don't make an appearance until the fall. If you do your research and plan well, you can have months and months of blooms in your yard.

Also think about the ease of care for your plants. If you plant them in conditions that are right for them, most plants will not be too much trouble, but others are known for being just plain fussy. Consider roses, for instance. Everyone loves roses because they are so beautiful, fragrant and evocative. When you first think about flower gardens, one of the images that probably pop into your head is of a rambling rose bush awash in vibrant color. Roses can be very rewarding but they can also be frustrating, requiring more care and protection from pests and the weather than many other flowers. If you really want to grow roses and are willing to work for them, by all means do it. But if you want to plant something, ignore it all season and have it bloom without any work on your part, try something else.

Flower gardening is a fun and easy way to embellish your yard. It's a great way to teach kids about how things grow and the blooms can give you enjoyment inside the house and out. If you plant things you like, have fun and enjoy the experience, you will have a great flower garden, no matter what you plant.

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