Flower Bed How-to

By Erik J. Martin

Few elements add instant visual appeal and eye-catching beauty to a yard or garden like flowers in full bloom. Only you don’t want to plant your petunias, roses, daffodils, tulips, or marigolds willy-nilly or without careful planning. For a clustered pop of color and greater gardening ease, it’s smart to create a flower bed that’s bordered off from other areas of your yard or garden, the experts agree.

A flower bed border that is well-designed and maintained can add both aesthetic and functional value to your home, as it can really make your landscaping stand out. Plus, borders can help define different areas of your yard, making it look tidy and organized. On the functional side, borders can control weeds and soil erosion. They can also serve as a barrier to keep pets or children from trampling your delicate flowers.

Joe Raboine, director of Residential Hardscapes for Belgard, notes that an attractive flower bed border can provide a feeling of calm and relaxation.

“The simple act of caring for flowers can also be therapeutic. Creating and tending to a flower bed can be a great new hobby that also attracts desirable wildlife and provides beautiful bouquets of flowers you can cut and display throughout the growing season,” he adds.

The best areas suited for a flower bed are those that enjoy ample traffic so that the flowers can be admired, such as sidewalks or in the front of the home.

Flowers need to be watered often, so they require the extra space that a flower bed order can provide. This will ensure that the flowers get enough water. Putting them near the front of the home and/or adjacent to a hose is wise.

It’s also crucial to choose a location that is sunny and has good drainage, as flowers need plenty of sunlight and the right amount of moisture to thrive.

Flower bed borders are typically their most attractive when they are super-colorful, which is why you want to choose your flower species carefully. You also want to choose flowers that are native to your area or preferable to the conditions of your planting zone.

You can opt for perennials, which come back every year and are generally easy to care for, annuals – which last only one season but usually provide more color than perennials and are less expensive – or a mixture of both.

If you want popular choices with tons of blooms and colors, consider roses, tulips, lavender, violets, pansies, and carnations. Roses have the longest flowering period, lasting from early spring all through summer. Lavenders bloom in the late spring/early summer. Tulips come in late winter/early spring. Violets and pansies bloom in early to mid-spring. And carnations grow quickly and flower year-round with a short blooming period from midsummer until frost comes.

Recommended planting steps include:

1. Choose a location for your flower bed that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily. If you live in an area with hot summers, pick a spot that gets some afternoon shade.

2. Prepare the soil in your chosen location by tilling it to a depth of 12 inches. Add several inches of organic compost to the soil and mix it in well.

3. After preparing the soil, plant your flower bulbs/seeds. Dig a hole that’s twice the width of the pots your plants are currently in and insert some compost in the bottom of each hole before placing your plants inside.

When it comes to creating the border itself, select the right materials.

“Wood may not be the best choice as, eventually, it will rot, although it’s cost-effective and can be stained for an attractive appearance,” says Raboine. “Stone or concrete edgers are a great choice that will last decades if installed properly. Some recycled edging materials work well, too.”

Railroad ties can be an affordable option, as well.

They are durable and easy to install and come in a variety of colors. Just make sure that whatever material you choose is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of soil, mulch, and plants.

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