You don't have to be a master landscaper to create a garden full of beautiful blooms; you just need these easy-to-follow instructions.
Step 1: Test your soil Test your soil to find out what nutrients it needs. Garden centers often sell do-it-yourself kits, or you can arrange a test through the Cooperative Extension System, a national agricultural network. Find a nearby Extension office on the USDA web site.
Step 2: Pick flowers Choose your flowers based on which varieties will do well in your climate, and whether you want annuals, which live for a year, perennials, which bloom for several years, or a combination. Also, consider whether you can handle high-maintenance flowers, like roses, or prefer less labor-intensive ones.
TIP: Alliums, bearded irises, daffodils, daylilies, impatiens, marigolds, nasturtiums, poppies, and zinnias are among the easiest flowers to grow.
Step 3: Consider seeds Decide between planting bulbs or small plants, or growing flowers from seeds. Seeds require more work, but are less expensive.
TIP: Seeds offer more options because you can order just about any flower you want from a seed catalog.
Step 4: Plan your landscape Plan your design, including placement and colors. Position smaller flowers in front of the larger ones. Make sure to place blooms that require a lot of light in a sunny spot.
Step 5: Till the land Prepare the soil by digging out grass and weeds with a spading fork, raking away rocks and debris, and then breaking up the soil with a rototiller, shovel, or hand trowel. Next, work in any nutrients your soil needs with a hoe. Finish by raking the land into a smooth surface.
Step 6: Plant your flowers Plant your seeds or bulbs according to the package directions, and then water the area.
TIP: If you add mulch – a protective covering around plants such as sawdust or compost – wait until the flowers are a few inches tall. Don't overmulch: An inch should suffice.
Step 7: Fertilize Add an extended-release fertilizer. Use your soil test as a guide for which fertilizer to use.
Step 8: Keep them watered Water your flower beds whenever the surface soil begins to dry. Giving them a good soaking a couple of times a week is better than daily light watering.
Step 9: Show off your blooms Have a garden party to show off your blooms.
FACT: It's easier to revive a plant that's been under-watered than to save one that's gotten too much water.