Designing a Flower Garden? Don’t Make These 5 Rookie Mistakes

Excited about designing your first flower garden? Calm down before you make these 5 rookie mistakes.

I have had the pleasure of living in various cities in the United States from East Coast to the West Coast and many, many cities in between! Upon arriving here in the Naperville area I purchased a home that unbeknownst to me had all of the wrong trees and shrubs planted throughout the property.  Each year another tree or shrub bit the dust.  It was horrible to watch as these beautiful plantings died simply because the previous homeowner didn't do their homework and investigate the various types of plants that do well in the shade and the sun.  But let's not forget about getting your soil tested to see if it's lacking the proper nutrients to host these plants.  This article will open your eyes before you make the wrong move and waste your money and time.  Linda

Excited about designing your first flower garden? Calm down before you make these 5 rookie mistakes.

Nick Statton of Monrovia plant sellers says beginners don’t ask enough questions or read planting labels. The cure? Don’t be shy about bugging your local plant growers with basic inquiries — they’re there to help!

George Pisegna of The Horticultural Society of New York says newbies don’t know enough about their soil. Get smart by testing your soil.

What other mistakes do first-time gardeners make when designing and planting their flower gardens?

Mistake 1: Disregarding the sun

Do you know how many hours of full sun your garden gets each day in each season?
If you can delay gratification, study your yard over a year before designing a garden. See how long the sun shines in the fall, spring, and summer. Read planting labels to determine how much sun a particular plant needs.

Sun-loving plants, such as roses, need at least 6 hours of sun a day; partial sun/shade plants need 4 to 6 hours; and shade plants need little or dappled sunlight: more sun can burn their leaves.

Mistake 2: Failing to consider color

It doesn’t matter what color story you tell, just make sure you know the story before you plant. Here are some ideas:

  •     Pull out your color wheel and find plants with complementary colors, such as yellow coreopsis with violet salvia.
  •     Monochromatic gardens are stunners. Dot your one-color story with whites (daisies) and greens (hostas), considered neutrals in the garden world.
  •     If you want to attract birds, add plants with vivid colors. Hummingbirds like reds, and goldfinches fly to yellows.
  •     Pick blooms that contrast with the exterior paint color of your house, so plants will stand out and add to your curb appeal.

Mistake 3: Over-planting

When it comes to perennials, remember this rule: First year they sleep; second year they creep; third year they leap. Be sure to leave 2-3 feet between plants, giving them room to breathe and space to grow.

Mistake 4: Favoring lines over bunches

Tulips look like lonely soldiers when planted in lines. Instead, arrange bulbs and plants in more natural-looking, odd-numbered clusters of 3, 5, 7, and so on.

Mistake 5: Forgetting that size matters

Check labels for mature plant heights. Tallest go in back; medium in the middle; shortest in front. And don’t forget to install a focal point, like an ornamental tree or fountain.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: May 18, 2012

Reprinted from House Logic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.

If you would like to know more about growing plants in the here in the Midwest please refer to my blog post entitled, Color Your World--Landscaping Ideas for Spring 2012.  There you will find links and more helpful information on planting flowers and shrubs that do well in the Chicagoland Area.  Enjoy and keep on planting! 

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