Backyard Flower Garden

hollyGeneral, Lake Living Leave a Comment

There are few things more beautiful or enjoyable than a backyard flower garden, blooming with a variety of colors and blooms. Whether you want to grow your flowers in containers or on the ground, growing a flower garden is a worthwhile endeavor. For those of us just starting now, here is a guide on How To Start Your Own Flower Garden.

Backyard Flower Garden
  1. Planning: You may already have an idea of where you want to grow flowers. However, you can’t just start planting, as different plants need different amounts of light. You can simply observe your garden area over the course of the day, checking on it every hour or so to see which areas get full sun (at least six hours of sunlight) and which areas are partially shaded. You should make a chart of the areas you’d like to plant, marking off “partial” or “full” for every hour you check on the areas.

You will want to build your garden in small steps. Start with a small flower bed, say a patch that is 5 feet by 5 feet or less. A patch that size has room for around twenty to thirty plants with perhaps three types of annuals and one or two perennials. Put the garden somewhere you can see it every day and you will not only enjoy it fully but be more likely to be reminded to provide the care it needs. (Keep in mind that you will need to perform ongoing maintenance of your garden including deadheading and separating flowers. Make sure to leave enough space between plants so that you have room to access them.)

  1. To plant flowers you will need to remove the grass and roots first. Clearing the sod first is essential, as it gives your flowers room to grow without competition. Dig it out by using a shovel to get under the grass and roots and pull out the top layer of grass. For a less labor-intensive route, you can place layers of cardboard all over the area. On top of the cardboard, lay out a covering of compost. The soil covering should be at least 3 inches thick. Leave the covering on the ground and wait about four months until the sod dies off then till the soil. This makes the soil loose and crumbly for planting. This will also kill any weeds that are starting to grow. Break up any clods with a rake. If you find rocks, remove them from the area. Smooth out the top of the soil so it’s mostly level.
  2. Most garden soil isn’t perfect for growing flowers, so you need to enrich it or make it more fertile. The easiest way to accomplish this is to add compost, peat moss, or shredded leaves into the top 6 inches or so. Many types of organic material will work. You can even use old manure (not fresh unless you plan to wait 6 months to plant). If you can’t dig it into the soil, you can leave the organic material on top, and after a few months, it will become a part of the soil.
  3. If you find your soil difficult to work with, create a raised bed. Raised beds are good for areas with soil that have high clay content, as well as soils that are particularly sandy or rocky. You can buy a kit from a local garden store to make your raised garden, and then fill it with soil.

Another option is to create a container garden. If you choose this option you would buy a variety of pots and containers which you will fill with soil and fertilizer and arrange them in the areas you want your flowers to grow….or you could do a combination of ground planting and containers.

  1. When thinking about what plants you want to grow, consider how much shade and sun the area gets. If it’s fairly shady, you need to pick a flower that’s going to be happy in that area. Also, consider how much work you want to put into your garden. That is, you can plant perennials that come back every year, but that don’t bloom as much as annuals. With annuals, you need to plant them each year, but you’ll get more colors and some blooms that last longer. You can also mix and match annuals and perennials for the best of both worlds. (Also be sure the flowers you want to grow are appropriate for your growing zone. You can look up your zone online or ask at a local nursery.)

One solution to finding the flowers you want is to buy them from a garden store, nursery, or farmer’s market. Look for healthy plants with lots of leaf growth. If you’d rather grow your own, you can buy seeds from a garden center or an online catalog.

  1. An easy way to start seeds is to use a cell flat, which has individual spaces for each seed to grow. The plants need to be separated after they get bigger so the roots don’t intertwine. You can also use other individual containers, or even a cardboard egg carton to start seeds. Just be sure whatever you use has a hole in the bottom for water to drain out. Note that some containers are meant to be placed into the ground with the plant because the containers are biodegradable.

Place a seed-starting mixture in the containers. Seed-starting mixtures don’t contain any soil and drain well. In addition, they don’t contain any weed seeds that could grow in the mixture. Potting soil will also work, but may not nourish the seeds as effectively.

  1. Plant the seeds inside two to three weeks before the last frost. Planting information is found on the package of each seed, and you can also look online for more details. Often, you can plant two to three weeks before the last frost in your area. However, you don’t want to plant too early, as the plants will outgrow their containers before you have a chance to move them outside.
  2. Follow the directions for each individual plant, but in general, you will plant a single seed in each container you have. Plant the seed at a depth that is four times the width of the seed. In other words, smaller seeds need to be closer to the surface, while bigger seeds can go a little deeper. Label the seeds, and keep the soil moist to help them grow.

Now find a warm spot with good lighting to let your seedlings grow. Windowsills aren’t the best place, since the temperature can vary from day to night. Instead, pick a warm area free from extreme temperature changes and big drafts. You can even use a grow light to provide needed light to the plants and situate them in an out-of-the-way place in your house. (If you decide to use a grow light, do not leave it on all the time. It should only be on for twelve to sixteen hours a day.)

  1. Planting your baby flowers outdoors can happen well after The “last frost”, which is the last time your area has freezing temperatures in the spring. If you plant too close to cold weather, it will kill all the new flowers. You can check online or with a garden shop or your local cooperative extension, to get an idea of when the last frost is for your area.
  2. When the time is right, dig holes in the ground or in your containers, just large enough to place the soil and their roots in the ground. Be sure the soil is loose in the hole and deeper than the root block. Place a small bit of organic fertilizer in the hole and mix it with the loose soil.

Take your flowers out of their containers carefully, so that the little block of soil does not fall off the roots. Set the plants in the holes you’ve just dug. Fill in around the plant with soil until it’s level with the soil of the transplanted block. Pat the soil down gently, and water the ground thoroughly once everything is planted.

Be sure to follow directions for each type of plant to determine how far you should space them out. Generally, spacing is based on how big they get when they are mature and how much room you need to walk around them.

  1. Water your new plants as needed. When you first put the new flowers in the ground, you need to water them at least every other day. After that, you’ll water as needed, which can vary based on temperatures and climate where you live. If you see the flowers wilting in the day or if the weather has been dry, you know it’s time to water. Do not water the plant directly, but water the ground underneath it.
  2. Read up on the care your flowers may need on an ongoing basis, such as pruning or dead-heading; keep them watered, weeded, and fertilized (if need be), and watch them grow. Your flowers will soon provide the birds, butterflies, and honey bees with sustenance and yourself with many hours of enjoyment and beauty!
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