Flower Gardens for Beginners
Every gardener was a beginner at one time. Even the most seasoned professional had a season where she barely knew the difference between a shovel and a spade and had to seriously contemplate whether her flowers preferred sun or shade. If this is your first year flower gardening, welcome! You’re about to dive into a hobby that has the potential to change your life and really connect you to the great outdoors. The best piece of advice we can offer is to relax! Despite what you might have heard and read, growing a beautiful flower garden isn’t rocket science. With a little patience and perseverance, you’ll be enjoying the garden of your dreams, talking like an expert and encouraging some other beginner to take a leap of faith.
So, let’s get started. The best flower gardens start way in advance of the gardener digging in the dirt. Getting to know your plants can really help you to develop your garden properly, meet the light and water needs of your flowers and pair plants so they are easier to maintain. Spend a day in your local gardening center or on the Internet to learn more about plants that are native to your area as well as annuals, perennials, sun and shade loving flowers and the many varieties of blooming plants that are available. When you know the difference between a petunia (sun loving annual), balsam (shade loving annual), salvia (sun loving perennial) and spotted geranium (shade loving perennial), it’s easier to determine what and where to plant in order to achieve a successful flower garden.
After you have a better knowledge of flowering plants, pick a spot for your garden and take some time to develop it. Plan to get dirty as you weed the area and remove any grass. While you can use commercial herbicides to tackle this task, your garden will thank you if you take a more natural approach and do it by hand.
Next, prepare the soil there. Enriching the soil with compost before you plant gives your flowers a good head start in life and allows them to grow healthy, established root systems and bigger, more impressive blooms. Ideally, you want your soil to retain proper moisture but not stay too wet for too long. While not providing your plants with enough access to water is a problem, when they sit in water for too long, many flowers develop root rot and are at increased risk of disease and decay. Natural compost, or humus, spread about 3-inches thick on top of your soil can help the ground to maintain proper moisture conditions for optimum growing potential.
Finally, give your garden a defined edge to create a clean break between your lawn and flower garden. You can use purchased edging material for this task, or simply use a flat-edged shovel to cut the edge of your bed, about an inch and a half or two into the ground. Add some mulch to help your flower garden retain water and give your garden a cleaner look, and then you’re ready to plant.
To plant a flower garden, you essentially have two choices, you can start with seeds, or you can start with plants. The advantage of seeds is that they are readily available and priced reasonably, but they will take awhile to grow. In contrast, plants are more expensive, but you gain that instantaneous gratification of a true garden after you’re done planting.
If you start with seeds, it’s important to begin your flower garden indoors. Plant your seeds in small containers, and carefully monitor the amount of sunlight they receive by placing them near a sunny window or under a commercially available grow light. Once your baby plants start to sprout leaves, it’s important to provide them with fertilizer and water them once a week. After about two weeks of growth, you can help your plants to get used to outdoor temperatures and conditions by placing them outside for about half the day in a spot that is similar to where they will be planted. After the last frost, your tiny plants are ready to be moved out of their containers and into your garden.
For those who prefer to start with small plants, you can skip right to placing younglings into the garden after the last frost has passed. Pay careful attention to how much sunlight your plants need in order to thrive (you can find this information on the plant tag), and space them about 8-inches apart in the garden to allow room for future blooms to fill in. Immediately after planting, water two or three times a week for a couple of weeks in order to fully hydrate the soil and encourage good growth. Once plants begin to grow, take time to remove any dead leaves or blooms on a regular basis for continued health.
Having a special space in your own yard that is filled with beautiful blooms truly is possible. Try your hand at flower gardening, and don’t be afraid to mix and match to create a landscape that compliments your personality and style. With thoughtful patience and persistence, the garden that you want will soon be within your reach!