Here are seven steps in designing a beautiful perennial garden.
1. Choose your garden location before designing it. Placing your garden where you can enjoy it makes sense. If it is way in the back of your yard, chances are you won’t maintain it or enjoy it as much as if it outside your windows or by your deck. Consider also neighbors and people who walk by, it is very enjoyable to see and hear their compliments on the beauty you have created.
2. Consider wind, sun, soil type, soil amendments and irrigation. If the garden is in an extremely windy location, taller plants will need to be staked. This adds to garden tasks. A sunny spot will not be conducive to growing shade loving plants, and shady areas will be a struggle for sun lovers. soil type can be an issue, clay soils hold on to moisture and sandy soils drain quickly. If you need to haul hoses to water the moisture loving plants you have chosen, that can be literally quite a drag.
3. Plan to scale on paper. Trees and shrubs may look sweet in their small pots, but in a few years they may tower and shade other plants or be too close to foundations. Keep in mind mature height and width.
4. Make it easily accessible for maintenance. Keep beds accessible on all sides for weeding and pruning, or create a path to get to the middle of the bed.
5. Consider how much time you are willing to devote to it. Perennials do come back year after year, so that helps eliminate yearly annual planting, however, they do need to be pruned, divided, deadheaded. This can be a fun part of gardening to some or another task on the to do list for others.
6. Prepare a list of desired perennials, allowing for multi season interest (not just bloom time, but interesting foliage, bark, seed heads, structure etc.) This is the really fun part! Consider favorite colors, favorite season, favorite flower forms.
7. Add organic matter to soil for optimum health of plants. Compost is fabulous and your plants will thank you by growing beautifully!