How to Design a Perennial Garden

A Perennial Garden can Provide Years of Beauty with Little Maintenance

By Mark J. Donovan

A perennial garden can provide years of low maintenance flower gardening and beauty. A perennial garden consists of plants that live for multiple seasons of growth. Perennial garden plants, however, do not live forever. Some perennial plants will last only 2 or 3 years before they’ll need to be replaced. Due to the fact that the plants have multiple growing seasons a perennial garden is easier to maintain than an annual flower garden. For example, with a perennial garden you do not need to replant new seeds, bulbs or plants in the entire garden each year.

They also typically require less water and are more pest resistant than annual flower gardens.

Perennial gardens can be designed to be major feature points in a yard and/or serve as a property border. It is important when designing a perennial garden to carefully consider sunlight, soil quality, irrigation and prevailing winds.

For soil preparation a perennial garden needs lots of organic matter. Consequently it is important to add a humus/manure mixture. I also recommend, if you plan your garden well in advance, to rototill fall leaves into the planned perennial garden and give them a winter to break down into the soil. The organic mixture will help provide nutrients, aeration, and better drainage for your perennial garden. Also, make sure to do a soil test and add fertilizer, lime and other nutrients to the soil as required.

For irrigation you may want to run a network of permanently placed garden hose throughout the perennial garden and strategically locate water sprinklers.

In terms of the perennial garden design develop some sketches of your planned garden, making sure to include dimensional information of your garden. It works best to use scaled paper when generating your garden sketches. In addition, write down the type of perennial plants you want to include in your garden and visit your local garden center to determine expected costs for the various plant types.

If you select the right plants for your growing region a perennial garden can provide flowering beauty for much of the growing season. Make sure you understand the bloom time and foliage growth required for each plant type you choose.

When designing your perennial garden make sure you include sufficient maintenance room for maneuvering around in the garden. There should be maintenance room along the outer edge of the garden as well as in the interior of it via interior pathways.

You may want to use string and stakes to outline the garden to transform it from the paper sketches to the yard. This way you can double check that it meets all your needs in terms of location, size and accessibility.

Also consider adding a central focal point feature to the garden such as a small statue or water fountain. Placing a perennial garden near a wall or fence is also commonly done for softening the wall/fence and for providing a good background for showcasing the garden.

Some of the most common plants to include in a perennial garden include tulips and daffodils. Tulips come in all types of varieties and colors so mix it up some when planting the garden. Also, be a little bit wild in the planting of the bulbs and plants so that you get a natural look when the garden blooms.

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