A guide to planting and caring for your garden

When planning a garden design, there are several factors you must consider carefully. Most important is determining the space available for the garden; this is vital when it comes to choosing your flower scheme so you don't overpopulate the area, and at the same time don't leave it too sparse.

Once sufficient measurements of the area have been taken, it's time for flower selection; this includes considerations like color, sizes, time of bloom, etc. Seasonal plantings range from tulips and other bulb flowers (which needed to be planted months in advance), annuals (geraniums, impatiens, etc.), perennials (Black Eyed Susan's, hydrangea, daylilies, etc.), and fall plantings, such as your mums. By choosing an assortment of flowers from each of these categories, you ensure that your garden will be full and colorful through the seasons!

A bold flower border also adds a degree of ambiance to any garden. There are a variety of flower options when planting a border; ideally you want to choose a flower which will spread as it grows, to cover up any open area. Carpet roses and perennial verbena are only two of the many flowers that will provide coverage.

Once the flower and color scheme is determined, it's time to start planting! As stated above, if you decide to use a bulb, you must plant it at least three months prior to its time of bloom. An easy method in planting bulbs is to use a household drill. Simply use the largest bit, and dig a hole 4 inches wide by 6 to 8 inches deep. Place several bulbs in the hole (quantity depends on how thick of a wave of flowers you want at time of bloom), cover them up with soil, and you are ready to go.

In planting seasonal flowers, you first want to make sure your soil is properly cultivated, meaning it will be properly prepared for the growing of flowers. For this you can rent a machine from your local hardware store, or simply use a basic garden rake and shovel to turn over the soil.

Before planting, it's helpful to lay out each flower or plant in its designated area, to ensure there is enough space to fit everything you wish to plant. Once the layout is complete, begin planting one at a time to maintain the set design.

Upon completion, water the flowers and plants so that they don't go into shock. Water daily for the first week, and then maintain a regular watering schedule (your location and weather conditions will determine how often you need to water).

Now that your garden is complete, you can spread mulch to help prevent weeds, or throw down a pre-emergent, both of which you can find at your local garden shop. To ensure the beauty of your garden, weekly maintenance is necessary to pull any loose weeds and clear any debris that may appear. After that, sit back and enjoy your design!

By Christopher Cella