How To Start a Flower Garden

Do you dream of having your own flower garden? Flowers add color and dimension to your landscaping, and a major boost to your curb appeal, too. They’re also easier to get going with than you might think. Gardening is a skill like any other—and you’ll definitely put your green thumb to work—but with some TLC, patience, and creativity, you can start a flower garden that you’ll love for many years to come.

There are reasons behind just loving flowers to invest in your landscaping. Figures show anywhere from a 100% to a 1,000% return on investment for home landscaping projects, which can increase the value of your home as high as 12.7%. It pays then to take the time to do your flower garden right, and to complement it with other landscaping features like a lush lawn and well-trimmed bushes. Below, we’ll cover everything that you need to know to start a flower garden, from choosing the right flowers to starting a garden from scratch. Get your watering can, and let’s get started.

Starting a Flower Garden

There are three phases to follow when you start a flower garden: planning, planting, and maintenance. Think of your garden like any other design project that you undertake in your home, and put together a clear vision for the space that includes all of the steps it will take to make it happen.

Ready to dig into the dirt around starting a flower garden? Follow the tips below to create a garden that’s colorful, whimsical, and all yours.

  1. Decide where your flower garden is going to go

    Are you going for curb appeal or a secret backyard oasis? Before you can start a flower garden you need to decide exactly where you want to put it, and relatedly, what you hope to achieve with it. You’ll also need to pay close attention to which areas of your home’s exterior are best suited to a flower garden, including both placement and light. Some types of flowers require full sun exposure, while others do best in partial sun—or even shade. If you have particular varieties of flowers in mind already that you’d like to grow in your garden, you’ll have to be sure that you select a spot where they’ll be able to thrive.

  2. Plan It Out

    Even before you select your flowers you’re going to want to put together a general vision for what the space will look like. Start by finding the focal point of your garden, maybe a tree or a window. You may even have more than one focal point. These are the areas that you’ll work your way out from, and that will provide structure and flow to your design.

    Don’t feel like you need to do the entire thing at once—you can certainly smart small and tackle your garden piecemeal, seeing what works and determining next steps as you go. Making sure it’s dimensionally accurate, draw your garden space and plan out your design. You can fill in the details with actual flower varieties later.

  3. Prepare the Land

    Whether you’ve decided to start a flower garden from seed or you’re going to be starting with already established plants, you need to prep your garden for the incoming blooms. Use a shovel to remove any grass from the area where your garden is going to go, including its roots. Then use a till to break up the dirt. This is an important step, since you want the soil to be primed to incorporate the additional topsoil that you’ll add on later. It will also help you find and remove any large stones that might have been hiding underneath the grass.

    Note: If your soil is difficult to work with, you can remedy the problem by adding a raised garden bed. Find some good tips on how to do that here.

  4. Add Your Topsoil

    Topsoil is, you guessed it, the top layer of your soil—about the first five to twelve inches. To start a flower garden, you’ll want this top layer to be as nutrient-dense as possible. And to do it, many people choose to supplement their naturally occurring topsoil with store-bought, to add more organic matter and ensure that there is the right balance of silt, sand, and minerals. If you’re not super familiar with assessing soil quality, then go ahead and add a layer of commercial topsoil so you know your flowers will have what they need. This should make your garden more fertile and your efforts more productive.

  5. Buy Your Flowers

    A lot of people get overwhelmed with their options when they start a flower garden. There are hundreds of different types of flowers that can be planted in the U.S., and while not all of them are ideal for all climates, you’ll undoubtedly have a long list of flower varieties to choose from. What you decide to go with depends largely on individual preference and what your design plan is, though other key factors matter too. These include:

    Annuals vs. perennials. Annual flowers bloom for just one season and must be replanted every year, while perennial flowers are planted once and re-bloom again and again for years—and sometimes even decades. What annuals lack in convenience they tend to make up for in bounty, producing a bunch of blooms during their singular life-cycle. The advantages of perennials, on the other hand, are quite obvious: so long as you maintain them properly, you’ll get years of flowering from one planting season. Most flower gardens include a mixture of both annuals and perennials.

    Climate. Where you live plays an important role in what flowers you can plant. Your climate—including seasonal variations, temperatures, amount of sunlight, and average amount of rain—are all major factors in regards to which flowers will thrive and which may struggle.

    Maintenance. How much maintenance do you want to do? Annuals tend to require more attention than perennials, including more frequent watering and fertilizing. Perennials are usually more hardy and require less day-to-day maintenance, but their pay-off is slower and it may take at least a full year before you see the stunning results of your labor.

    If you’re not sure where to start, go talk to an expert. Your local garden store is a fantastic resource for learning all about flowers and what varieties are a good fit for your specific location and preferences.

  6. Get to Planting

    Your planting protocol is based on whether you went with seeds or established plants.

    If you’re growing your garden from seeds, start by planting them inside your home about two to three weeks prior to when you intend to plant them outside. Different flowers are planted at different times throughout the season, but in most cases go-time will be after the last frost of the spring season.

    To start your seeds, fill each hole of an egg carton with soil and bury one seed in each hole. Keep the soil moist and in a place that will get lots of sunlight but not a lot of temperature variation. If you’re using a grow light, keep it on for only about half the day. When it’s time, till your garden bed again and plant your seeds in the soil, being sure to give them room to grow.

    If you’re growing your garden from established plants, wait until after the last frost and then use a trowel to dig holes for each of your individual flower plants. Do some research to figure out how much space each plant needs. The bigger the plant is going to get, the more space it’s going to need. Water at least every other day as your flowers’ roots start to grow into the ground.

  7. Maintain Your Garden

    Planting your garden is probably the most time intensive part, but it’s still going to require lots of care as it grows. Make sure that you know what each of your flowers requires in terms of watering and fertilizing, and check in on your garden regularly to make sure that everything is healthy and stable.

A flower garden is generally an ever-evolving process. Each year, re-evaluate your set-up and determine if you want to make changes. In addition to building on to what you’ve already done, you may want to change up the types of flowers that you plant, or get even more creative in your design.

And don’t worry—all of that hard work will feel more than worth it when your flower garden starts to come to life.

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