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Planting plan

Map out your flower garden layout


By Laura Firszt
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Who else thought this year that spring might never arrive? Good news: Warm weather is just around the corner. It’s time to plan your flower garden. While most folks vastly prefer planning a garden to other seasonal home improvement tasks such as cleaning gutters, it still takes time and effort — not to mention a smidgen of expert advice. For a little help, check out our guide to a simple, successful flower garden.


Garden layout influencers


Consider local conditions. Each garden is a microclimate of its own. Research the types of plants that are best suited to local conditions: Your area’s weather, the amount of rainfall, the configuration of your yard and your soil type are important.


Let the sun shine in. Make sure that no plants will be blocked by taller neighbors so they all get their fair share of sun. In an overly shady yard, you may want to trim existing trees to lighten things up. Done right, pruning will also contribute to tree health.


Variety is the spice of gardens. Vary your chosen plants’ height, shape, scale and their texture. You want to create the impression of a lovely natural meadow, not a regiment of soldiers standing stiffly at attention.


Keep your garden constantly colorful. Tired of looking at a monochromatic white, snow-covered landscape? Choose flowers that will rev up your yard with a glorious melange of hues. Mix plants that have varied blooming seasons for a gorgeous, color-filled garden from spring through fall.


Indulge your sense of smell. Sweet perfume from scented plantings such as freesias will add a delightful extra dimension to your flower garden. TWO FRINGE BENEFITS: You’ll attract pollinators such as birds and bees, and you’ll be able to enjoy the fragrances long after dark.


Allow access. Remember this obvious but often overlooked step. Remember to ensure that you will have access to tend to all your plants. If the planted area is going to be large, include pathways or stepping stones in your garden layout.


Enhance with the right hard-scape. How can you make your garden a spot where you’ll love to linger? Hire a landscaper to enhance your design. Consider adding a rustic bench or two and perhaps a Zen water feature.


Garden planning tips


Beware of invasives. Avoid types of plants that can take over your entire plot, particularly when you have only a small garden. However, if you absolutely must have a fast-spreading flower such as purple loosestrife, limit its growth by planting in a container.


Try a garden planning app. Get some high-tech help to plan your garden layout. Save your design when you’re satisfied. Some apps let you know what tools and supplies will be required to bring your vision to glorious life.


Organize logically. Consider where tall plants such as shrubs will do best. Then fit smaller flower species in around them. Always work from the back of the garden forward. Perennials should also be placed toward the rear because they’ll need to be dug up and replaced less frequently than annuals.


Visualize your garden “IRL.” Buy seedlings from a nursery or start flower plants from seed indoors. To get a great idea of how your garden layout will work in real life (IRL), arrange the young plants still in their pots. Readjust their positions until you’re sure you’ve got everything exactly the way you want.


Put off planting bulbs until next fall. Although you’re probably itching to start ASAP, be aware that bulbs such as tulip or narcissus should be reserved for autumn planting. They need several weeks of low temperatures to thrive. GOOD NEWS: Getting those bulbs into the ground two weeks before the first expected frost will give you a headstart on next spring’s beautiful flower garden.


Laura Firszt writes for