How to Plan Your Flower Garden


“Just living is not enough … One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson

Planning Your Flower Garden

Now it’s time to determine the size of the plot you’re going to plant and to make a rough sketch of your property in relation to the plot. If you like, you can buy drafting paper and draw your map to scale so that it is more accurate. Color pencils are great for making maps so buy a set. Tracing paper is also a useful tool so you can make different layers of trees, plants, grasses, etc. and experiment before making your final drawing.

As you make your sketch, don’t forget to map out utility poles, faucets, existing plants and trees, sidewalks, etc. If you’ve done a good job of watching the sun and shade patterns of your yard, you can map these out as well. Make note of seasonal changes in sun and shade with different colors. If you’re interested in blocking out the wind with shrubs, draw in the direction of prevailing winds with arrows and indicate the season as well. Other factors to include in your map are slopes or hills, gullies, areas of special interest such as nice views you want to preserve, etc. The Garden Composer computer program might be helpful if you have a large and complex area to plan.

All this information you’ve compiled can now serve as your base map. Now you can begin the exciting process of defining your vision for your flower garden.

Flowers and Design: Working with Nature

“The Earth laughs in flowers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As different flowers come out at different times of year, you should think about the time you want your flowers to bloom and for how long. You can have them bloom all at the same time, or you can stagger them throughout the growing season so your flower garden evolves through time.

This is a wonderfully creative element to flower gardening. Imagine seeing your spring flower garden emerge in blues and purples with grape hyacinth and lilacs and then evolve to a rainbow of colors as your Four O’clocks come out later in the year. Read up on the flowers you want to use to familiarize yourself with their flowering times.

Another fantastic part of planning your flower garden is that you can actually set up thematic sections in yard. Consider these themes for your gardens: Butterfly Garden, Bird Garden, Wildlife Garden, Rose Garden, Perennial Garden, Shade Garden, Succulent Garden, or Water Garden, among others. This U.S. Department of Agriculture has great tips on adding unique and ecologically-minded themes and features to your flower gardens.

Now that you’ve got your base map and you’ve got a set of ideas and tools to work with, you can map out which plants you wish to place in your yard. There are no hard and fast rules when drawing your design, but in general it’s best to draw large shapes for themes such as “shade garden” and use symbols for more specific features such as an individual tree or a bird bath. You should draw in the shapes of trees and shrubs as if they were their mature sizes, not their planting size. This technique will help you visualize your mature garden and reduce crowding.

When you have finished making your design, you can actually map it out in your yard. Place string, pegs, rocks, or other markers to outline the shape of the garden plot. Outline the shapes of the various plant concentrations. You might even want to lay out colored paper or something similar to represent the flowers and other plants. Mapping your garden accurately will give you a good idea of how it will look when it is done, and what effect it will have on the appearance of your house and the rest of the yard.

You can consider purchasing several samples of each of the flowers you are thinking of using and placing them in the appropriate locations in your mapped-out flower garden. You can take back the ones that aren’t quite right and purchase others. You will eventually find the perfect flowers and other plants for your garden. After you have a good idea what your garden will look like, you’ll need to prepare your soil for planting.

Preparing Your Flower Garden for Planting: Here Comes the Digging!

“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” – H. Fred Ale

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