How to Start a Flower Garden

A flower garden enhances your outdoor surroundings. It can also provide you with cut flowers and attract pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, to your garden.


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    Start small. Enthusiasm for gardening is great, but can rapidly dry up when the work mounts. Start with a small flower bed, say 25 square feet, which is room for around 20 to 30 plants with perhaps three types of annuals and one or two perennials. You can always increase you plantings as your experience grows.
    • If even a 25 square foot plot seems like too much, make a small border or do your first flower gardening in a container. Two or three plants sharing a fancy container can look stunning and give you a sample of what's to come.
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    Make a detailed landscaping plan and dig a flower bed to fit that scheme, if you want. On the other hand, if you're no good at planning on paper, or you know about where and how large you'd like the bed, simply lay it out right there in your garden.
    • Laying a garden hose on the ground is one way to mark or plan a gentle curve. If you have a lawn adjoining the bed you are digging, remember to leave yourself mower access.
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    Choose a site. How much sun an area gets is a prime consideration. Six hours of sunlight will do for the greatest variety of plants. Stay away from underground utility lines and allow at least three feet from a building or fence.
    • In hot climates, it is best to have some shade from the relentless afternoon sun, so a flower bed to the east of a building or fence usually works best. This also gives some protection from the hot drying winds that usually come from the west.
    • You can grow a garden even if you get 12 hours of full sunlight, but you should be more careful about which flowers you choose to grow. Pick ones that love full exposure to the sun. Your garden will also need more frequent watering.
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    Choose a site with good soil, if possible. All soils can be improved, but avoid areas with shallow, rocky soil, areas where water stands, or steep slopes. Stay at least 20 feet (6.1 m) away from a large tree or five feet away from a sizable bush. Trees will compete with your garden for water and nutrients. #Get a soil test. While not strictly required, a soil test will help to determine what nutrients the soil requires and will tell you the fertilizers that soil needs as well as its pH. Your local Department of Agriculture extension service can help.
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    Start digging. Once you locate a site and mark out the boundaries with a water hose, remove all sod and pieces of grass or weeds that may re-sprout. Using a spade or garden fork, completely dig up the bed to at least eight inches deep, a foot deep is better. Remove rocks or any debris.
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    Level the bed and break up any clods with a rake. Add one or more inches of compost or manure, more if the soil is poor. If the soil is sandy, add peat moss or grass cuttings to improve the soil's water holding capacity. Add lime if the soil is too acid. Most plants like neutral to slightly acid soil.
    • Soil amendments such as compost can be bought by the bag or sometimes by the truckload. Work the amendments into the top six inches of soil along with a general-purpose fertilizer such as 10-20-10.
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    Buy the plants or seeds then plant according to their directions. Smaller plants go in the front of the bed. Most plants are planted at the same depth they were growing. Firm the soil around them. Remember when placing plants that they will grow, so start with extra space and read the labels carefully to see how much space to leave them.
    • Get a variety of flowers because they bloom at different times and this will keep your flower garden always in bloom.
    • If you do not have many flowers blooming early spring or late summer, drive around your area and see what is blooming. Go out and buy a few of these and plant them. After doing this a couple of times, you will have flowers almost all year round.
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    Water thoroughly. Like a good waiter, a good gardener will check whether water is required before watering. How much you water will depend upon the needs of your plants, the climate and exposure, and how much rain your yard gets.
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    Cut spent blooms periodically. Many plants will re-bloom, but only if the old blooms are cut. Also, support and prune your plants as necessary.


  • Perennials last from one year to the next. They, too, will require annual maintenance, but not replanting. Perennials may require division, support, extra care during winter months, and pruning or cutting back of old stems and blooms.
  • Annuals are plants you plant every year. They are often inexpensive and many have brightly colored flowers, and they can be rewarding for beginners. The following season, you'll need to replant or start over from seed. Some annuals are really "tender perennials", which is to say that they are perennial in their native environments but tend to die back in winter when grown in colder climates.
  • It is usually good to plant a variety of perennials that will flower at different times of the year (Don't just plant one type of flower or you will only get flowers a few weeks of the year). You can plant Annuals in between the perennials to fill in the spaces. Annuals add a lot to your garden because they tend to be more colorful than Perennials so use both. Annuals also bloom at different times of the year so use a variety.
  • Whatever you plant, try to learn the name of it. If no care instructions come on the label or from the nursery, look it up online. If you have no idea or can't find any information, you can always try it and see, but this can be a costly way to learn about gardening.
  • Healthy, happy plants tend not to be as susceptible to pests and diseases. Here, too, prevention is easier than cure. Do your best to give your plants good soil and appropriate moisture, and choose plants that are suited to your climate and exposure.
  • If you have a diseased plant, it is best to burn the plant rather than to try to nurse it back to health because it could infect similar plants in your garden. You can also put the plant in a plastic bag, tie it up and throw it away.


  • Be sure that you are willing to put in the necessary time and work.

Sources and Citations

  • "Gardens for Beginners"

Article Info

Categories: Growing Flowers