Designing perennial beds and borders

The most common way to display perennials is together, in a large flowerbed or, space permitting, a long border of either meandering form or with firm boundaries. Quite honestly, these methods of growing perennials are purely practical: You can prepare the soil, plant them together, and care for them together (see the upcoming sections "Planting Perennials" and "Show the Love: Taking Care of Your Perennials").

Here are some basic layout tips and techniques that the professional garden designers use, easily transferred to your own garden (for additional planning advice, flip to Chapter 2):

1 Plan to be in scale. Some sense of proportion between your home, garage, and/or shed (whatever's nearest to the proposed perennial garden) is key. A big house, for instance, does best with wider beds and taller plants; a smaller one is better served by a series of smaller beds and lower-growing plants.

i Match garden style with structures. A casual bungalow, cottage, or one-level home likes an informal perennial garden, with wavy-edged boundaries; a larger or more imposing home, or one with strong architectural elements and lines, needs a more formal, straighter-edged approach.

i Try a dress rehearsal: Lay out the lines of your proposed garden in advance with a hose, outdoor electrical cord, rope, or even chalk or flour. Set potted plants or lawn chairs or whatever here and there within its bounds as stand-ins (these items should match the perennials in terms of mature height and bulk, not the size of the plants you buy); stand back and assess. Tinker with the plan until you're satisfied, and then sketch it on paper so you can remember it on planting day.

After you have your layout planned, you're ready to begin your plant selection. In addition to choosing plants for the bloom times and colors, take these points into consideration when choosing your plants:

1 Consider height and width. Perennial gardeners have to be patient and be able to imagine the future because new plants are small. Find out your chosen plants' expected mature sizes and allow them enough elbow room in your plan. Plan to position taller-growing plants to the back of a traditional border or the center of an island bed; array lower growers at their feet. If you need help visualizing, some software programs let you see what your garden will look like as plants mature.

1 Mix it up. Nature loves diversity, and the variety looks great — it keeps the eye moving even as it lets individual plants stand out. So intersperse a variety of plant forms, from spiky ones to mound-formers.

1 Match the plant to the growing conditions. Save yourself a lot of grief and wasted money and effort by choosing plants that are clearly labeled as sun-lovers or shade-lovers, as the case may be in your intended site. Figure 7-1 gives you an example of a shade garden, and Figure 7-2 shows a sun garden plan, each with appropriate plants labeled for the two different types of gardens.

As for soil conditions, some perennials like the dirt rich and moist; others like it dry and only moderately fertile. Do your homework here, too. (Of course, you can improve or alter the existing conditions if you like. See Chapter 4 for advice.) If you have a dry garden, you may want to consider the plan in Figure 7-3. Or if you have very rocky soil, you can take advantage of the situation by creating a perennial rock garden.

Figure 7-1:

If you have a shade-filled area for planting, such as one beneath a group of trees, try a garden plan such as this one.

Figure 7-1:

If you have a shade-filled area for planting, such as one beneath a group of trees, try a garden plan such as this one.

Ajuga

Ajuga

Ajuga

Figure 7-2:

If your yard gets a lot of direct sunlight, here's a garden plan that will truly give you a great day in the sun!

Alcea

Figure 7-2:

If your yard gets a lot of direct sunlight, here's a garden plan that will truly give you a great day in the sun!

Coreopsis

Coreopsis

Coreopsis

Alcea

Figure 7-3:

Dry gardens can still be beautiful with the right plants, like the drought-tolerant perennial beauties included in this plan.

Figure 7-3:

Dry gardens can still be beautiful with the right plants, like the drought-tolerant perennial beauties included in this plan.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment