The Best Garden Tips for a Legendary Landscape
My yard is another "room" of my home where I can use my creativity and express my style. A literal LIVING room!
One of my absolute favorite hobbies is gardening. In fact, I don't know if I would actually call it a hobby - it's more of a passion. Weeding and tilling the soil, not so patiently waiting for blooms, going way over our annual landscape budget because I can't possibly leave the nursery without all of the new plants that catch my eye...
Probably one of the main reasons for my obsession with gardening is that for me, my flower beds and garden are an extension of my love for home styling! My yard is another "room" of my home where I can use my creativity and express my style. A literal LIVING room!
Every morning over the warm months, I pour my coffee, slip on my shoes, and stroll around our property admiring all of the new growth, taking note of what needs tended to. My flower beds and garden are my happy place! However, up until about 9 years ago, I was completely clueless on how to grow anything other than a basic indoor plant - and even that was a stretch!
With a lot of tutorials and lessons from my dad along with lots of research, I have collected really helpful tips over the years that help us keep our garden thriving, lush, and fruitful. These tips are also time and money savers, which when you have a plant addiction like me, are really helpful to know! So let's DIG into some of my best tips for a legendary landscape! (see what I did there?)
And don't miss my absolute favorite gardening must haves at the bottom of the page!!!
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Just like the inside of your home, it is really helpful to stage the shape of your flower bed and your plant arrangement before using any tools!
If you are designing a new flower bed from scratch, start by using a garden hose as an outline. The hose will be flexible enough to create your desired curves and you can use garden stakes to hold the hose in place while you adjust the shape. You can also use string if you don't have a hose handy. Once you are happy with your shape, use spray paint to trace the outline of your bed. Cutting the edge will be much easier because you will know exactly where to cut without having to redo any edges.
Choosing The Right Plants
It would be easy if I said, just buy all the plants that look the prettiest to you. That's how I originally started my gardening journey, and I wasted a ton of money doing that! In terms of what plants to choose, there are a few factors to consider before making your purchases.
1. Sunlight - what type of sun does your flower bed or garden get? Shade to full shade plants are going to burn out quickly in a full sun bed. A full sun plant won't thrive in a spot that gets less that 6 hours of sun a day.
2. Go Native - your local nursery and the big box stores offer so many different varieties of flowers and shrubs. But just because they sell them doesn't mean they're going to survive in your yard. It's REALLY hard not to bring home the unique and unusual plants that you don't really see in other people's gardens - but the fact is, they're not going to last long and you're going to end up spending more money to fill their vacant spot when they die. Try to choose plants and flowers that are native to the area you live in. Those are going to be more hardy and survive for years versus only one season. I think if I knew how much money I wasted on plants I bought just because they were fabulous and I needed to have them, I could fill another 5 flower beds.
3. Down in the Front - Assuming your flower bed is deep enough for multiple rows, make sure you take height into consideration. If the plants in the front row are just as tall or taller than your back row, you won't get to enjoy everything and the plants in the back may not thrive without enough sun. I like to make my flower beds deep enough for 3 rows. It lets me stagger plants for depth and interest. Everything in the front row is typically a ground cover or very short. Medium height plants go in the middle and the big guys go in the back so everyone can be a star in the show.
4. Seasons of Color - Every plant comes with a tag that tells you how much sun it needs, how tall and wide it will grow, and the season in which it blooms. If your entire flower bed is filled with flowers that bloom in the summer months, you're going to have a pretty dull landscape during the other seasons. Try to pick a few plants that bloom in the spring, a few that bloom all summer, and a few that will give you color in the fall. Your garden will always be filled with color! Bonus points if you choose plants with a long bloom period such as coneflowers and black eyed susans!
5. Bed Styling - One of the main reasons for flower beds? COLOR! Think about what colors you want before choosing your plants. Also think about the color of the exterior of your home! Much like choosing accent pillows or artwork for your walls, make sure the color of your plants compliment your home and compliment each other! For the front of our home, I chose mostly warm purples and yellow tones because it compliments the siding. In our large backyard bed, I have ALL the color because it makes me happy!
6. Staging - Once you have chosen and purchased your plants, set them out in your flower bed or garden (still in their pots!) to make sure everything is evenly spaced and exactly where you'd like it. I have re-dug way too many holes because my line of basil plants was crooked or I didn't like the look of one plant next to another. I also like to buy plants in odd numbers. Styling in odd numbers always looks better and you'll create more of an impact having multiple of each plant versus buying one of everything.
7. Give Me Space - This is one of my dad's top tips so don't miss this one! Don't overcrowd your new plants because, in case you didn't know, they're going to keep growing! Planting everything close together means your new babies will soon run out of room and end up fighting for sun and nutrients. Read those tags that come attached to your plants! It will tell you exactly how much space to leave to allow everything to grow to its mature size. That's why when you look at these images of my own garden, it looks a little bare. The oldest plants on our property are only 3 years old and boy do they grow considerably year to year! In a few more years, when they are mature, they'll be snuggled close to one another and I'll have the gorgeous mature landscape that I covet on my parents' property.
Aside from all of the tips to beautifully style your outdoor spaces, the science behind companion planting ensures you'll end up with healthier plants. Companion planting in a nutshell is planting 2 different plants beside one another for mutual benefit. It's like having really great neighbors that let you borrow their tools and bake you cookies. A companion plant can protect its neighbor from pests, improve the fertility of the soil so that the plant produces more fruit, and can even improve the taste of the food you grow!
In flower gardens, a tall sun-loving companion plant can produce shade for a low shade-loving ground cover. In turn, the ground cover plant spreads out and reduces the amount of weeds for the taller plant.
In our vegetable garden we make sure to grow our tomatoes and basil right beside each other. Not only do they taste delicious together in the marinara we can every summer, but the basil keeps pests away from our tomatoes and increases the amount of fruit our tomato plants produce!
Here is a really helpful chart to help you decide what would work best in your vegetable garden. You can find even more tips for growing vegetables on this Anglian post.
Are you completely overwhelmed? I know it's a lot to take into consideration when designing a new flower bed, but the benefit of choosing your plants from a local nursery is that they are well educated on all of the above! Don't be afraid to ask questions and get their advice for what would grow best around your home! And please don't hesitate in reaching out to me with any questions you may have! I'd love to help!
I hope you find some inspiration here to get outside and fill your outdoor space with color whether you have a tiny patio container garden or acres of space begging to be landscaped. If you're looking for more simple gardening and planting tips, make sure you follow along on Instagram and Pinterest! I'm sharing extra ideas and tips there that you don't want to miss! And make sure to check out my legendary gardening finds below!
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Legendary Gardening Finds
For more inspiration for outdoor planting, make sure you check out my DIY outdoor planters!
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