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Help Needed With Planning A Perennial Flower Garden

My spot for a flower gardenI live in Indiana and would like to add a lot of color using mainly perennials for the back corner and sides in this area, but I am happy to add some annual flowers.  I was also looking for some climbers or taller plants and grasses to go in the back, as well. I’m looking for this area to get bigger and brighter every year!

The picture was taken around 1:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  I was facing south when I took it. The semi-circle planter area on the left holds two large lilac bushes that did wonderfully last year! The fence in the back does reflect a small area of shade/shadow on the area.

I’m looking forward to your recommendations. Please let me know if you have any questions for me!

Myra M.

Answer:

Myra,

It's very hard to suggest plants since there are a few things you should consider before choosing. The basic question of any landscaper would be, what is your use for the space? Do you have children who need space or is this an adult area? Are there elements in the view from the house that you want to hide or distract your view from, such as the play equipment in the neighbor’s yard or perhaps some utility boxes? How much time do you have to devote to maintaining your landscape beds? Perennials, while not needing to be replanted each year, still require maintenance like pruning, watering and fertilizing. Do you have any water problems, such as soggy areas from water run-off from the house, or the oppositea place that is very well drained and stays dry? With the power lines, can you install trees, perhaps some low growing varieties?

Your six-foot fence is creating a micro-climate of shade, so the movement of the sun on those areas is particularly important. Full-sun plants will require a minimum of 6 hours of sun to perform well. Some plants are happy with morning sun and afternoon shade; others want it hot, hot, hot!  You’ll need to actually determine how much sun those specific areas get during the growing season, and then choose plants that have those light needs.

After you've determined all those aspects then you can start thinking about a focal point for the garden and various heights, textures and colors of plants. One way to get your plans flowing is to create a Pinterest board of ideas. Even if the plants are not hardy, it's pretty easy to match texture and color for your Zone 5 landscape garden. You can even go tropical if you want to deal with strictly annuals and wintering-over plants inside or replacing each year.

Look at the Google map view of your home and yard and think about the shapes of the areas you want to create. Nature never plants in straight lines, so get out your garden hose and figure out what you like and use some spray marking paint to draw it out. Make sure you don't create mowing obstacles when you line it out:  that's why the paint helps! When you create planting areas it's best to always enrich the soil with compost and organic matter first, before you’ve gotten all your plants in.

We have a huge selection of plants, so you can choose what fits best for your color palette and moisture and light conditions. Each plant description includes the conditions that suit it best, as well as the mature size and growth habit. If you want plants that will spread to fill in space, allow them generous room when you plant them. This is very important because many new gardeners tend to plant too close together and then wind up with an overcrowded area in a couple of years.  Choose from foliage you like and a floral color theme that fits your tastes.

Unless those lilacs are the dwarf variety, they will outgrow that small planter within a year or two. Lilacs will ultimately reach seven or eight feet in height and four or five feet across. Think of this when planting near a tall fence since planting too close will cause the plant to not be able to grow on the one side (no sun) and potentially become weak and decline! Bring your plants out far enough from the fence that they can reach their full width potential.

I hope this information has helped you feel confident in selecting plants you like and that will work in your growing conditions.

Happy spring and plant planning!

Karen

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