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Flowers: Getting Started

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As you start on your flower-planting adventure, keep one thing in mind: It's hard to mess up when planting flowers. If you end up unhappy with the way you planted your flowers, don'tworry — it's not permanent! First, wait until the flowers bloom. Sometimes they end up looking even better than when they were initially planted. If you're unhappy with the turnout, you can always replant next year.

If you're too worried about how your flowers will look, you may want to find a local landscaper to help you plan your garden.

How to Plan a Flower Garden

Don't worry about coming up with an exact scheme to follow for planting flowers. If you want to make a plan on paper, you will want to draw out the layout of the flowerbed and then draw in the plants, shrubbery or trees that are already planted, along with those you will be planting. Avoid spending too much time on figuring out the exact placement of the flowers. Aplan on paper should guide you and help you estimate how many flowers you will need to purchase.

When planting your flower garden, remember the "big-to-small" rule: Start with the larger trees and bushes as the focal point, then plant smaller bushes, evergreens or hedges, then set in the shrubbery. The final step is to add perennial flowers and fillers such as bulbs, annuals or biennials. Planting the other way around could result in a garden without structure, symmetry or coherence. By the way, evergreens and hedges are great for maintaining garden structure all year round.

Keep in mind that the more closely you base decisions on meeting the needs of your plants-light requirements, soil and moisture levels-and on which plants look goodtogether, the more successful your flower garden will be!

Practical Tips for Flowerbeds

The trend today is to create mixed border flowerbeds rather than planting just perennials. The advantage to the mixed border is that small flowering trees and shrubs join together with the flowers to create a look that will be beautiful all year long. If your property doesn't lend itself to several separate beds, you may want to consider planting individual flowerbeds of a single kind of flower.

  • Keep it wide. Make your flowerbed at least 5 to 6 feet wide. Wider flowerbeds are more attractive and will help achieve the lush and beautiful look you want.
  • Make sure you have a clear definition between your flowerbed and the rest of the garden.
  • Plant in groups. With flowers, planting more is better! You just have to make sure to do it the right way. Make sure you stay with one type of flower so that you can achieve the look of mass bloom. Also, plant in patches of 3, 5, 7 or more of the same flower.

The Three Goals of Flower Planting: Unity, Repetition and Balance

Unity: Create unity in your garden by using colors that harmonize well. Putting plants into groups of 3 and creating strong backdrops by using evergreen hedges can help youachieve this goal.

Repetition: Repeating certain plants, colors and textures adds continuity to your planting beds. For example, if you have flower borders that face each other, repeat at least one grouping of plants on each side. Remember to stagger the groups instead of having them right across from each other.

Balance: Symmetry is the formal approach to laying out your garden. Those plantingusing a symmetrical approach would be careful to plant the same upright shrub onboth sides of a gate. What you can keep in mind is that you can also do this asymmetrically. For example, use three mounded boxwoods on one side of a path to balance the visual weight of a tall, upright evergreen on the other side.

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