How to Start a Flower Garden


Planting flowers is a great beginning project if you want to start gardening, and they add bright colors to your yard. While gardening isn't an easy task, you'll likely find it a rewarding one. Start by picking a place to grow your flowers and preparing the bed properly. Then you can buy or grow flowers to plant in your new flower garden.

Part 1
Getting the Ground Ready

Getting the Ground Ready on How to Start a Flower Garden

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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 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.[1] It can help to make a chart of the areas you'd like to plant, and then mark off "partial" or "full" for every hour you check on the areas. Keep in mind that you may have to perform maintenance including deadheading and separating flowers. Make sure to leave space between plants so that you have room to access them . Build your garden in small steps. Start with a small flower bed, say a patch that is 5 feet (1.5 m) by 5 feet (1.5 m) 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.[2] Put your garden in a noticeable area. If you plant your garden in a forgotten corner of your yard, you may very well forget it, meaning it could die off without you knowing. However, if you stick it someplace you can see it every day, you're more likely to be reminded to provide the care it needs.[3]

Getting the Ground Ready on How to Start a Flower Garden

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To plant flowers, clearing the sod first is essential, as it gives your flowers room to grow. Dig it out by using a shovel to get under the grass and roots and pull out the top layer of grass.[4] For a less labor-intensive route, place newspapers all over the area (at least five layers thick). On top of the newspapers, lay out a covering of potting soil mixed with topsoil or compost. The soil covering should be at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick. Leave the covering on the ground and wait about four months. The sod will die off and the newspaper will become part of the soil.

Getting the Ground Ready on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Till up the soil to make it loose and crumbly for planting. Also, 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.

Getting the Ground Ready on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Most garden soil isn't perfect for growing flowers, so you need to enrich it. The easiest way is to add compost, peat moss, or shredded leaves into the top 6 inches (15 cm) or so. Basically, most organic material will work.[5] You can even use old manure.[6] If you can't dig into the soil, you can leave the organic material on top, and after a few months, it will become a part of the soil.

Getting the Ground Ready on How to Start a Flower Garden

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If you find your soil is 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.[7]

Part 2
Obtaining Flowers

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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When thinking about what 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 colorful blooms that last longer.[8] Also, make sure the flowers you want to grow are zoned for your area. You can look up your zone online or ask at a local nursery. Some perennials to try include daylilies, pansies, irises, lamb's-ears, black-eyed Susans, Russian sage, and roses. For annuals, try zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers. You can also mix and match annuals and perennials for the best of both worlds.

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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One simple solution to getting flowers is to simply 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'll need to buy seeds from a garden center or an online catalog.[9]

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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A simple way to start seeds is to use a cell flat, which has individual spaces for each plant. The plants need to be separated so the roots don't intertwine. However, you can 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. Some containers are meant to be placed into the ground with the plant because the containers are biodegradable.

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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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 you may not be quite as successful with it.

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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When you plant the seeds is based on the plant itself. Usually, that information is found on the package, but you can also look online. 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.

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Follow the directions for the plant, but generally, you 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.

Obtaining Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Windowsills aren't the best place, since the temperature can vary from cold at night to hot in the day. Instead, pick a warm area free from drafts. In fact, you can just use a grow light to provide light to the plants somewhere in your house. It can help to use a heating pad meant for seeds. It goes under the containers, which can keep the soil warmer, promoting growth. If using a grow light, remember you shouldn't leave it on all the time. It should only be on for twelve to sixteen hours in a day.

Part 3
Planting Your Flowers

Planting Your Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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As you're getting your garden ready to plant, add time-release fertilizer to the bed, tilling it in as you go. Read the back of the package to get an idea of how much you need to spread out in your bed.[10]

Planting Your Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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The "last frost" is the last time your area has freezing temperatures in the spring. If you plant before the typical last frost, you'll lose the flowers you planted. You can check with the gardening store or your local cooperative extension, which can give you an idea of when the last frost is for your area.[11]

Planting Your Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Take your flowers out of their containers and make sure the roots are separated (gently). Dig holes just large enough to place the soil and roots for each plant in the ground.[12]

Planting Your Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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Set the plants in the holes you've just dug. Fill in around the plant with soil until it's level with soil of the transplant. Pat the soil down, and water the ground thoroughly once you get everything planted.[13] Follow directions for each type of plant to see how far you should space them out. Generally, spacing is based on how big they get when they are mature.

Planting Your Flowers on How to Start a Flower Garden

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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 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.[14]