There is something therapeutic about gardening. Whatever your reasons to start a flower garden, there is one fact that all vetran gardeners and the newly inducted will agree on. Starting a flower garden is not easy. It isn’t a matter of just picking up a spade and spending a few hours in the dirt and then calling it a success. There are a lot of variables to consider, but if you put in that time, effort and care into the earth, the rewards are very gratifying.
A flower garden gives you a sense of connecting with nature. The right landscaping brings depth and character to your home and adds that splash of colour in your life. But that’s something that takes a lot of planning and preparation. For now, our guide on how to start a flower garden keeps things simple so you can follow with ease.
Planning is crucial before you start planting a garden. It helps narrow down your options and make easy decisions when you start planting. This may sound like a daunting task to a novice and a waste of time to the ignorant, but it really isn’t. It just consists of some really simple steps that you need to take before you put that first plant in the dirt.
Where To Plant A Flower Garden
The very first step in starting a garden is knowing where you want to have the garden. This step is key, as many times your later decisions would revolve around where you are setting up the garden. Have a look around your home and find that sweet spot where you would want your flower garden set up. It could be in your backyard, or around the fences at the front. A roof and balcony garden could be an option if you live in an apartment.
One way of looking for the ideal space is to think aesthetically. If you are having the garden outside, you can use the garden in many creative ways. If you have a strong tree that you want to hero, then you can plan the garden around it. Having a flower garden around a picket fence or the base of your home, gives a friendly approach to the house. You may prefer to have the garden around the boundary of your backyard, as they won’t be disturbed by you or children or pets when they access the yard.
But it is not just about aesthetics. It is also a matter of knowing if the space is best suited for your flower garden and plants to grow. Your plants will need sunlight, but too much direct sunlight may not be ideal. You also need a location that has some shade and shelter. At the end of the day, your location will also determine how you maintain the garden and whether you need drainage for excess water.
If you plan to plant your garden with seeds, then we suggest that you do this indoors in little pots at first. If that’s the situation, then you need a small location for your plants to grow before being shifted out to the real garden out there. Sort of like a plant daycare or nursery.
Lastly, we advise that you take a couple of pictures of the location. If you are good at it, then go ahead and sketch a rough idea of what the garden could look like. This is entirely up to you. But we believe it will help in the later steps of the planning phase.
What To Plant In Your Flower Garden
This is a crucial step. It dictates the type of soil and fertilizers you would need to plant your garden. So what would be the best plants for your flower garden? If you are a beginner and have absolutely no idea what to do, we suggest you pop down to your local nursery, or find someone who knows a lot about plants. Plant enthusiasts do enjoy discussing these things and might just be the help you are looking for.
Remember those pictures we suggested you take? Take that with you and show it to the nursery. Tell them what you would want for your garden and they will help you out with the best options for plants and flowers.
The reason we suggest you do this is, they can help you with picking out the plants that would flourish the most in the location you have chosen. Not to mention, an expert will help you with each step of this article and even take it beyond that scope of this article. They will be invaluable sources of information and help for when you need to maintain the garden you have planted.
Growing Seeds Or Planting Plants
Most people prefer to purchase the plant or sapling before planting it. It is much more expensive to purchase the plant compared to buying the seeds, but it is also easier to care for and maintain a plant.
If you want to nurture your garden from seeds, then you have a few other things to consider. For example, you are going to want to grow the seeds in smaller pots indoors and away from the elements and small animals. Once the plants are old and big enough, you can transfer them outside into your garden. Again, talk to your nursery and they will help you pick out the best plants for this.
Now that you have it all planned out, you need to prepare the garden space for when you do need to plant your plants. This includes working on the soil, purchasing the plants you want and having everything ready for planting day.
Prepare The Garden Soil
Once you pick the plants you do want in your flower garden, you need to prepare the soil. Your flowers need space and time to grow, so you need to get rid of all the intruders. Grab your shovel or garden spade and get to digging up the grass and pulling out the weeds in the area. Make sure that you are also pulling out and getting rid of the roots. This should ideally also break up the soil, but it doesn’t hurt to go into the dirt once again and disturb a few inches of it.
The soil that is probably the most important when you look to plant a flower garden is the topsoil. As the name so obviously suggests, this is the top layer of the soil. More specifically, this is the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. We suggest that you add a layer of store bought topsoil to the layers you just dug out. Make sure that you incorporate it well as this soil is a nutrient rich feast for your plants.
Most times, you do not need specific soils or fertilizers, but if you do happen to be going for some of the more exotic flowers or plants, then they need the extra care and nutrients for their enriched growth. Again, the nursery or a gardening enthusiast will be able to help you here with the soils that have the best mix of the nutrients and minerals the plant requires.
Purchase The Plants For Your Flower Garden
Now comes the time for you to pick those blooms that you want to see in your garden. It is quite possible for you to get overwhelmed by the variety of flowers and plants in the market. You will find plants and blooms for different climates, geographical locations and environments, with some plants needing more care and maintenance than others. Let’s go over a few of these types of plants, to give you a better idea.
- Annual Flowers – Simply put, these are plants that will bloom for only one season and have to be replanted every year. This may sound inconvenient to replant every year, but the beauty of it is that they bloom abundantly and during that bloom they will truly bring your garden to life.
- Perennial Flowers – Pretty much the opposite of annual flowers, perennial flowers only have to be planted once, and they will bloom during the season, year after year. The blooms may not be as abundant as annual flowers, but are no doubt beautiful and with proper maintenance and care, they can even flower for decades.
By this point if you have not acquainted yourself with the local nursery of a gardening enthusiast, this is the best time to do that. They will be able to help you pick out the flowers that enjoy the climate of where you live. Afterall, you want your plants in your flower garden to thrive.
If you are planning to purchase seeds to plant your garden, we strongly advise against making that purchase online. Buying them from a local nursery or store guarantees that you get the seed for the plant you want and will avoid the possibility of you getting bad seeds.
If you follow all the above steps, then you have scoped out a place for your garden, have your soil incorporated with new rich topsoil and you have your plants ready to take root in their new home. Now it’s time for you to get your hands dirty.
By now, you may have noticed us pointing out the different approach to planting seeds vs planting plants. Well it’s about time we really went over that.
Growing your garden from seeds
Now this is really not that difficult. At best it is a matter of timing. The best time to plant outside would be around the time of the last frost. The last frost is the final spring frost in your location. Since you are planting seeds, the packaging usually tells you the best time to plant the seeds. If not, then plant the seeds a few weeks prior to the last frost.
You can use a baking tray or even an egg carton as your growing station. Fill each divet with some of that rich topsoil and plant your seed about an inch or so from the surface. A rough rule of thumb is to plant a seed at a depth that is more or less 4 times the seed’s width.
Keep the soil moist and in an area with sunlight but with a moderate temperature. If you plan to use a grow light for your seeds, then dont leave it on for more than 12 hours a day.
As the seeds grow, transfer them to larger containers if needed. Eventually it will be time to transfer the saplings outside, so make sure you till the soil well.
Planting plants in your garden
Whether you bought your plants or have grown them from seeds, your next step is planting them. Make sure that you have incorporated nutrient rich topsoil where you look to plant. Dig individual holes for your plant with spaces between these holes. Then transfer your plant along with the soil that it is in, into the new hole. Make sure that it’s in there tightly packed.
Now each plant requires a certain amount of space to grow. You could enquire with your local nursery or your friendly neighbourhood gardening enthusiast and they will be able to tell you exactly how much space and depth a plant would require. Knowing the depth may not be relevant if you are planting in the ground outside, but if you are having your flower plants in pots or indoors, then it is crucial to know how much vertical space they require to thrive.
If you thought that planting the garden was hard work. Then you are in for a surprise! The planting phase is the easy phase. It’s the maintenance phase that is labour intensive. It is also the phase that is directly related to you seeing those flowers bloom in all their glory. Now we know that we said it is labour intensive, but it’s relatively easy work. You just need to keep your plants happy and healthy.
Think of it like a baby or a pet. You have to give it water by watering it regularly. You have to feed it with nutrient rich soil and fertilizers, and you have to keep it clean and healthy by getting rid of dead and diseased vegetation and harmful insects. You may need to help some of the plants stand, by supporting them with a small stick. It also helps to give it a bath once in a while with some mild garden variety pesticide every now and then. And ofcourse you need to groom it by pruning it.
Pruning is the process of cutting away parts of the plant that are not growing or are dying. This is not a necessary step, especially with most flower plants, but if you plant anything else, you may need to prune the plants for fruitful growth. It also goes without saying, exotic plants would require special care. Your nursery or that gardening enthusiast or even a quick Google search, can tell you how to care for them. So make sure you do.
Finally, our last bit of advice – take it slow. Plants are patient and won’t grow or die overnight. You have time to learn and grow with them when it comes to gardening. You be patient with this whole process and they will reward you when they bloom. Oh and make sure to at least do a soil change once a year!