Perennial Flower Beds

Perennial Flower Beds -Preparing flower beds, gardening tips

Perennial Flower Beds

Getting ready to prepare your perennial flower beds? We've got lots of gardening tips to make it simple, fun, and eco friendly!

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The best time of year to prepare perennial flower beds is in late fall. However, if needed, you can do this at anytime during the growing season and still have a great result.

We recommend doing it in the fall, as it allows for the soil amendments to disperse throughout the soil. Soil is also less clumpy in the fall months, after the growing season is over.

For background information for Perennial Beds check our pages on site selection and soil preparation, please review our article on Site Selection and Preparation.

Once you have selected your Perennial Flower Bed site, it's time to plan what you will plant and where. You'll want to start by doing your homework and carefully assessing all plants. Pay special attention to sun exposure, watering requirements, soil PH, height, and color arrangements.

Put Your Thoughts On Paper

Perennial Flower Beds - Put Your Thoughts On Paper

Put Your Thoughts On Paper

You'll want to put your thoughts of your Perennial Flower Beds on paper. Graph paper and a pencil work the best. The graph paper will allow you to lay your plants out to scale and the pencil will allow you to quickly make changes!

Once you're happy with the layout, it's time to transfer your thoughts from paper to the actual bed. If you laid your bed out to scale on paper, make a few quick reference measurements in your bed location.

Since most perennial beds are free-flowing and natural looking, straight lines are minimized, unless you are more into the formal garden type appearance.

Use a Garden Hose To Lay Out Your Bed Curves

Use a Garden Hose To Lay Out Your Bed Curves

Design and Install Eco Friendly Plant Beds

To layout your Perennial Flower Beds, get at least a 50' to 100' garden hose to roughly layout your border edge. With the hose you can easily visualize and change the curve and linear lines of the border shape, make small adjustments, or completely scrap an idea and start over.

Once the Perennial Flower Bed is laid out, run a sharp spade around your border, following the hose contour. Be careful to make smooth curves and straight lines.

Next, Rototill the border completely and work all the dirt so that it is clean and fluffy looking. It works best to use a walk-behind rear-tiller or one that is on a rider mower.

Prior to final roto-tilling, add all of your soil amendments to adjust PH, add (N) Nitrogen, (P) Phosphorus and (K) Potassium.

Now comes the fun part! You're ready to lay out your plants on the top of your Perennial Flower Bed. Make adjustments as needed. Once you've laid out your plants, it's time to dig some holes.

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Preparing Flower Beds:

Quite often you will hear the term double-digging in reference to the preparation of planting holes for Perennial Flower Beds. Double-digging refers to a process that loosens up the soil to a depth of about 12 inches or so.

Honestly, with the exception of very large perennials, this will not be necessary as the Roto-Tiller loosens the soil to a depth of at least 8 to 10 inches, adequate for small to mid-sized perennials.

If you have added adequate Organic Fertilizer to your bed and tilled it in thoroughly, you should not need to add additional fertilizer.

Perennial Flower Bed Planting Tips

Plant fibrous rooted perennials so their roots are spread out and the crown comes out right at or slightly above grade level.

Plant daylilies in groups by spreading the roots over a cone shaped mound of compost in the center of the hole. Again, keep the crown at or slightly above grade level.

Peonies are handled somewhat differently. Plant them deep with well-firmed composting in the hole. The eyes or buds should be 2 to 3 inches beneath the grade level.

Irises are planted with the rhizomes right at grade level. Slight mounding is permitted.

Perennial Garden

Perennial Garden In Full Bloom

Consider These Perennials For Dry Soil

Perennials for dry soil:
Bearded iris
Butterfly Bush

Nuisance Plants

As you plan and prepare your Perennial Flower Beds, there are some plants that you should consider carefully when planting because of their tendency to spread vigorously or invasively. If you stay of top of them you will be ok, but left unchecked, they may completely take over your landscape beds.

Some of these plants include:
    Chinese Lantern (physalis alkekengi): This one is usually a nuisance in your garden
    Creeping Bellflower (campanula): This is a creeper and can creep all over your garden quickly.
    Goldenrod (solidago): Spreads throughout the garden
    Goutweed (aegopodium podagraria): This is a groundcover that will indeed cover the entire ground!
    Loostrife (lysimachia): In wet areas, this can take over very quickly if not kept under control at all times.
    Obedient plant (physostegia virginiana): This one flops and grows. Not so obedient.
    Ox-eye sunflower (helianthus helianthoides): Spreads very vigorously from seed.
    Perennial pea (lathyrus latifolius): This plant produces rope-like roots that are very difficult to remove.
    Plume poppy (macleaya microcarpa): Has very aggressive roots and can easily overrun a small garden
    Purple coneflower (echinacea): Spreads by both seeds and runners and can easily take over areas of your garden
    Ribbon Grass (phalaris arundinacea): This grass if beautiful, but it spreads seeds far and wide and can do ecological damage in doing so.
    Sundrops (oenothera pilosella): This one has shallow roots and is quite easy to control
    Violets (viola odorata): Beautiful, but they self sowe and they do it everywhere!

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