Planning the Perennial Flower Garden

This is a small section of a larger garden.
This is a small section of a larger garden.

The first thing to consider when planning a perennial flower garden is what goal do you have in mind. Would you like to have flowers that bloom all season? Do you plan on mixing in annuals? Will the garden show from all four sides? After you figure all of these things out, then it is time to come up with a plan.

How to Choose the Right Location

Some flowers do well in full sun, while others like morning and late afternoon sun only. If you are in the south, partial shade may be better. There are exceptions to this rule. Decide if you want a sunny garden or a shade garden. Shade plants are harder to find, but there are hostas, ferns, etc that do well. Asiatic lilies do well as do most wild flowers that can be found in the woods. Be careful with the wild flowers though. Some of them will take over the entire garden. Violets are one of these.

Keep in mind which types of plants you'd like before choosing the spot. If you have a mostly sunny yard or mostly shade, then you may not have a choice. Just choose the flowers you'd like, keeping this in mind.

A Perennial Shade Garden
A Perennial Shade Garden | Source
Curves work better than straight lines.
Curves work better than straight lines. | Source

Planning the Shape

Plan before you dig. Using a garden hose to plan the shape of the garden can help. Flower gardens look best without straight lines.

A kidney shape is pleasing or if the garden is going to be against a fence or building, think about a curvy line. After you shape your garden with the hose, you can change it until you get the desired shape.



The entire garden isn't shown. It is planted all along the fence. Placing a table in the area can provide a nice peaceful place to sit in the summer months.
The entire garden isn't shown. It is planted all along the fence. Placing a table in the area can provide a nice peaceful place to sit in the summer months. | Source

Plan the Arrangement of Plants

Get out a piece of paper and pencil before you begin planning which plants to purchase. Measure the garden and then draw a picture. Get out a plant catalog and look at the plants you'd like and check the heights and widths, colors, and bloom time. You'll find more information below to help you.

Flowers look best in uneven numbered groups. It is best to start with a grouping of 3, unless it is an extra large plant like a bleeding heart.

Fill in the paper before you start purchasing plants. If necessary you can move the plants later that don't work, but it helps to do it right the first time.


Hostas look nice in a shade garden.
Hostas look nice in a shade garden. | Source

A Garden that Blooms All Summer

If you'd like to have flowers that bloom all season without using annual flowers, this can be a challenge. It is do-able. Don't start buying plants and plopping them in the garden without some thought first.

Tulips and daffodils bloom early as do most spring bulbs. Many of the wild flowers bloom in the early spring. Bleeding Hearts are an early bloomer.

Next irises will bloom. Soon asiatic lilies follow. Different asiatics are available that bloom at different times. The patio varieties bloom a little earlier than the others, so think about including those.

In midsummer there is a wide variety to choose from. Daylilies, coneflowers, rudebeckia, shasta daisies, oriental lilies and the list goes on. Late blooming daylilies and mums bloom in the fall. If you've kept your flowers deadheaded after they bloom, some of these will still be blooming in the fall.



Asiatic Lilies are Available in Many Colors.
Asiatic Lilies are Available in Many Colors. | Source

Choose Plants by Heigth and Width

If your bed can be seen on all four sides, you'll need to plant the taller plants in the middle. If they are going to grow against a fence or building, plant the tall ones in the back. Next use the mid-size plants and then plant the small plants in the front.

Include bird baths and other garden ornaments.
Include bird baths and other garden ornaments. | Source
Lollipop Asiatic Lilies make a nice addition for blooms in June.
Lollipop Asiatic Lilies make a nice addition for blooms in June.

Choosing By Plant Color

Would you prefer pastels or bright colored flowers? Look at a color wheel and choose the opposite color on the wheel. An example is purple and gold. This can make a real statement.

One of my neighbors used these two colors in sweeping gardens across her yard. We admired them every time we walked by.

White always looks nice with any bright color. A soft white would go well with pastel colors. Think about plants that have colorful leaves. I've purchased some coral bells with purple leaves this year and they make a nice splash of color before and after other flowers bloom.



Theme Gardens

You may want to have a theme garden. A family garden is a nice idea. Just choose plants with the names of your family members. Many varieties of flowers have the names of people. An example is the Becky Daisy that is a tall variety of Shasta Daisy that spreads well. Daylilies are available that are named with people's names.

A memorial garden is a nice way to remember someone special that has passed away. Plant all of the flowers the person loved or reminds you of them.

If you like to visit garden centers, stop at one on each vacation and bring back a plant to remember the good times you had.

Plant a garden in your favorite team's colors. These always look nice.

This is a fairy garden that I saw at a garden show. Children love these.
This is a fairy garden that I saw at a garden show. Children love these. | Source

Using Raised Beds

By mounding up the dirt, you can raise the height of your garden. This has advantages. From the street your garden will look beautiful, because it will raise it to a higher level which will show it off more. A raised bed doesn't need as much bending to care for and you can use soil that is richer than that available in your area.

Of course a raised bed isn't necessary and it does take more work to create. The choice is up to you.

You'll enjoy your perennial flower bed for years to come. Because it has been carefully planned, it will look beautiful. Even if you are a beginner, the garden will add to your lawn and the birds and butterflies will enjoy it.

Youtube Video - How to Plant a Perennial Garden

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Comments 52 comments

SMD2012 profile image

SMD2012 4 years ago

You have a lovely garden! It reminds me very much of the garden in my old family home. My Dad loved creating curved beds, winding paths and tree canopies. He said gardening was like conducting a symphony. As each flower bloomed at a different time of the year, you had to create balance and harmony so that there was always something beautiful happening in the garden, there was always "music" being played by one or more sections of his floral orchestra. - Sarah


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

Barbara, though your garden seems to be quite big, the ideas you have given can be used even in planning a small garden. I do love the idea of the curvy line, which really would give even a small garden some flow. Very interesting Hub. Voted up.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I like the idea of a theme garden. Also, raised beds have always been attractive to me. This is a very useful hub topic and I enjoyed the ideas you listed.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

SMD2012, My husband is a musician and our gardens looked better when he helped with them. He enjoys home decorating too and everything has to have a perfect balance in our home too. Thanks for reading the hub and I enjoyed your comment about your Dad.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

sen.sush23, I have many more gardens around our yard. Some are big and some small. They all do have the same guidelines for creating them. Thanks for commenting.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

teaches12345, I have yet to make a raised bed myself. My hubbie just doesn't like the idea because of mowing around it. I myself don't think it would be any harder. As long as he does the mowing though, I go along with him. Thanks for commenting.


dagny roth profile image

dagny roth 4 years ago from Neverland

Very beautiful! I am working on a raised bed wildflower garden and have been really enjoying the fruits of my labor.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

dagny roth, You'll have to share the pictures in a hub, so we can all see it. Thanks for commenting.


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Voted up! Thank you for the inspiration, Barbara Kay. I do have some flowers, but most of my gardening has been limited to roses, herbs and vegetables. I enjoyed your writing and your illustrations.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Arlene, Thanks for reading and commenting on the hub. You've got to add a few flowers just for the fun of it. We had something like 20 roses, but we lived in an area with blackspot that was so bad, that we finally gave up. Now we live where there is no blackspot. Maybe we'll get into roses again.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I like the idea of planting by colour, I have never considered planting a border just using a couple of colours.

Your garden is lovely and thank you for the information and advice.

Voted up.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Movie Master, Thank your for the compliment and commenting on the hub. I'm happy you enjoyed it.


susanm23b 4 years ago

This is a very informative hub with lovely photos! I always love reading gardening hubs. Gardening is not something that I naturally gravitate towards, but I love flowers. We are looking to replace some of the shrubs in our front yard with perennials. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Voted up! Useful and beautiful!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

susann23b, I'm happy to hear that you are able to use this info. You should enjoy your new perennials.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very informative hub. I love gardening and I learn much from this hub, including all stunning pictures. Thanks for writing and share with us. Rated up!

Prasetio


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Prasetio, Thanks for reading the hub and voting up. I'm happy to hear you loved the photos.


angela_michelle profile image

angela_michelle 4 years ago from United States

I'd recognize that backyard anywhere! Very pretty!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Angela.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I've always wanted to have one of these but never found the time. When I get around to it, this is hub is the first place I'll visit. Voting this Up and Useful.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

alocsin, Thanks for your commenting and voting up.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Wonderful suggestions! We are going to move in three years so I won't be doing this now but at our new place I want perennials by the boatload and I will use your suggestions at that time.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

billybuc, I'm happy you'll be able to use the ideas. Thanks for commenting.


mommytalks profile image

mommytalks 4 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

great Hub! Living in Arizona, I miss gardening in Michigan. Hostas, tiger lilies, pacysandria .... *sigh*


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

mommytalks, I'd miss that part myself. Thanks for commenting.


lj gonya profile image

lj gonya 4 years ago

Beautiful hub. I've been planting perennials for over 40 years and still make the mistake of not checking out height before planting. Right now, I need to go out and "divide and conquer" a few of my out of control varieties. Great job.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

lj, I need to get busy and do the same thing here. I have a granddaughter that wants everything extra I have though and that will help. Thanks for reading.


Little Red Wagon profile image

Little Red Wagon 4 years ago from The South

Thank you for the inspiration. I am planting perennials in a bed in front of my house. I find that my husband is a hindrance rather than a help. He just does not understand my vision. Unfortunately, his help is needed when I build up the beds and need his help with making a border. I guess I just need to work on my communication skills.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Little Red Wagon, Thanks for commenting. Yes it does make the work easier if you have help. I've always had a problem with my husband wanting to plant shrubs in all the wrong places. Right now we have one in front of our front window that will grow 10-12 feet high, because he insisted that is where it should go. I have to trim it down every year. Thanks for commenting.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Love your flowers and the ideas. My husband and daughter always get me a special perennial for mother's day so I have some interesting plants. Voted up!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Glimmer, Thanks for reading and thanks for voting up. I'd like to see your garden.


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

This is great advice for anyone planning a perennial garden. I have used mostly annuals as we live in a rental. I will be referring back to this when we buy our own property and I can plan my garden the way I want it. Voted up, useful, interesting and pinned. :)


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

brsmom68, Thanks for reading. You'll have fun when you do get your own property.


i4u 4 years ago

Wonderful information to bring out a flower garden indeed. Gardening is a joyful hobby and I do help my mom out in our garden which not only has flowers but some amount of delightful shrubs.

Your advices are very useful in lot of ways and the photos looks amazing too by the way.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

i4u, Thanks so much and thanks for the compliments. We have shrubs here and I should use them in the garden more, but I have a bit of a shade problem already. I enjoy gardening too and it is a relaxing hobby for me.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

You got a large and beautiful garden. After reading this engaging hub, you spoke like a garden expert, highlighting the importance of trimming the garden and making them beautiful forever. Your suggestions are clear and helpful. I will take up some of your valid points for my garden in my terraces. The photos looked very pretty. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Pressed all the buttons except funny(sorry). Voted up & Socially Shared.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

ishwaryaa22, Thanks so much for all of your nice comments and for voting up and sharing.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

So very well informed/useful and interesting.

Here's to so many more to share on here.

Take care

Eddy.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Eddy, Thanks for your nice comments. You take care too.


Organised Kaos profile image

Organised Kaos 3 years ago from Hobart, Tasmania ~ Australia.(The little bit broken off the bottom of AUS)

What an absolutely lovely garden. Admired the healthy plants. Nice work and ideas in here. Thanks.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Organised Kaos, Thanks for the compliments. Gardening is one of my other hobbies.


eugbug profile image

eugbug 3 years ago from Ireland

Hi Barbara! I love the Asiatic lilies, I can never get mine to last more than a couple of years. I reckon something must be eating the bulbs. Tiger lilies are very long lasting and hardy though.

Enjoyed the hub and voted up!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

eugbug, My sister had something eat all of her lily bulbs too. Otherwise they just keep multiplying. We left one in the same place for 5 years and I couldn't believe how many bulbs were underneath them and how big they were. Now I have more red ones than anyone could want and have given them to lots of people. I don't have a lot of tiger lilies. They don't seem to do so well here for me. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

You have beautiful landscaping and took good pictures. Thanks for sharing the beautiful and informative hub. Voted up and shared.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Gail, Thanks for visiting the hub and voting up and sharing. Thanks for the compliments too.


SallyTX profile image

SallyTX 3 years ago from Only In Texas!

I love perennial plants, especially native and naturalized ones. They make having a pretty, natural yard so much easier! Voted up and useful! ;D


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Sally, Thanks for reading and voting it up. I love my gardens too and I have some of the native plants.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

Your garden is absolutely beautiful! I do like incorporating perennials into our garden along with a few annuals each year just for a splash of additional color. UUB votes and will share.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 20 months ago from USA Author

Peggy, Thanks for looking at my photos. I hope your garden is beautiful this year.


Hazel Abee profile image

Hazel Abee 17 months ago from Malaysia

So beautiful garden .... MY balcony is filled with Orchids only .. as i am staying in an apartment.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 17 months ago from USA Author

Hazel Abee, Thank you for the compliment. Orchids are beautiful and you are fortunate that you can grow them where you live.


Chantelle Porter profile image

Chantelle Porter 16 months ago from Chicago

Great article. I can tell you love to garden. I'm in the process of planning a memorial garden for my Grandma. It was nice to see we are on the same wavelength.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 16 months ago from USA Author

Chantelle, Yes, I love gardening. Have fun creating your memorial garden.

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