by Matt Gibson
What is a flower garden? The obvious answer is that a flower garden is a plot of land where flowers are cultivated and displayed. Flower gardens are usually produced for the purpose of visual and aromatic enjoyment, providing gardeners with a serene and relaxing environment to appreciate and to care for in their spare time.
There are many different types of gardens. Vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens are curated to grow healthy and nutritious produce that not only saves the owners money at the grocery store but offers a healthy, (hopefully) organic, and delicious variety of fresh food to enjoy throughout the growing season. A flower garden, on the other hand, is grown for less practical but equally important reasons.
Often, avid gardeners will place vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens tucked away in the backyard, with perhaps a small bed dedicated to growing flowers that are good for cutting and making arrangements with or giving away as gifts. These are called cutting gardens. Flower gardens are usually on display in the front yard, for all the world to see and to admire accordingly.
If you want to try your hand at flower gardening but don’t know where to start, here’s everything you need to know and more to get your flower gardening career jumpstarted and on the road to success.
Flower Gardening Tools of the Trade
Every gardener needs tools to get the job done. The essential gardener’s tool kit should be built up with time to eventually include the following items (links to Amazon are affiliate):
- Soil knife for planting bulbs, herbs, flowers, and veggies, for dividing plants, removing rocks, digging out weeds, cleaning out cracks, cutting twine, and much, much more.
- Garden hoe for weeding large areas, removing unwanted roots, and digging trenches.
- Spade or shovel for digging and turning garden soil.
- Pruning shears for trimming back plants, deadheading, and removing damaged or unwanted branches and stems.
- Watering hose for irrigation.
- Weeder tool for cutting weed roots just below the surface and for helping to remove weeds without tearing up nearby plants and roots.
- Wheelbarrow for hauling soil and other garden materials.
- Leaf rake for gathering leaves, grass, twigs, and other light debris.
- Bow rake for leveling soil and spreading materials, such as mulch, gravel, sand, etc. Also used for removing heavy debris from garden beds.
- Pruning saw for removing branches that are too big for shears or loppers.
- Water breaker for soaking established plants and gently watering new ones.
- Scissors for deadheading and cutting soft-stemmed plants, such as herbs, for snipping twine, and thinning perennials, etc.
- Transplant spade for digging holes in tightly packed areas of a garden bed.
- Digging fork for turning and tilling unworked soil, mixing amendments, breaking up clods, etc.
- Heavy duty leather gloves for tough jobs, such as digging holes, carrying firewood, clearing brush, etc.
- Washable synthetic gloves for general maintenance, deadheading, seed handling, weeding, etc.
- Nitrile or rubber coated cotton gloves for wet, dirty jobs, such as picking up leaves, planting shrubs, or dealing with thorny plants and cacti.
- Arm protectors for pruning brambly shrubs or handling any type of plant that can be a skin irritant.
Planning Makes Perfect For Your Flower Garden
Planning out the way you would like to see your garden laid out is one of the most important things you can do when setting up a new garden. Decide what kind of garden you want and where on your property that you would like to put it. Then decide what plants you want to grow in that location. Once you have it all mapped out, it’s just a matter of purchasing the seeds or seedlings and putting the plan into action. When choosing a location, try to pick one that has lots of sun exposure.
Working the Ground
Once you’ve got a location picked out, you will want to get a head start on things by beginning to work the soil in the area that you selected. There is a lot of work that goes into prepping the soil, so go ahead and get your hands dirty as soon as possible by clearing all weeds, unwanted plants, rocks, and other debris from the area right off the bat. All of the sod has to go, so dig it up completely and get it out of the way. If you have some patchy spots in your lawn outside of the area you selected to start your garden, feel free to transplant some of the sod you are removing from your garden location to the patchy spots to try to fill in any bald spots in your lawn.
After you get the area where you plan to build your beds cleaned up, it’s time to build the beds themselves and amend the soil to optimize it for growing. To build the beds, you have two options. You will either need to remove the top layer of sod and then dig up and amend the soil underneath, or you will need to build a raised bed. Raised bed kits can be purchased at most gardening centers or nurseries, but you can also look up a tutorial online and build one yourself if you’re the hammer-and-nail type.
Amend your soil right off the bat by adding in lots of organic matter. Organics need time to decompose and break down anyway, so get in those beds early, and get some healthy stuff in the mix. Great options for amending your soil include decaying leaves, grass clippings, manure, and kitchen compost. The perfect time to till your beds and amend the soil is when the ground is warm and slightly moist. The soil should be of a consistency that is not too moist but not too dry. You should be able to form a loose ball of soil with your fist that breaks when you drop it to the ground.
Map It Out
Garden beds, no matter how many you have or how big they are, are still a finite amount of space. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned green thumb, mapping out the placement of your flower selections is the best way to maximize the space you have available—and the best way to get an idea of how you want all your hard work and energy to look when all is said and done.
When mapping out your garden beds, keep the size of the flowers you select in mind. Do you want to border the larger flowers with rows of smaller flowers on the outside so that the smaller ones get plenty of sunlight? Yes, that’s probably a good call. This is also a great time to think about the way you want to use color. White and yellow are great background colors to draw the eye. You can then choose a more vibrant color, such as blue, red or purple, to play the starring role. Ex: Build a stunning bed with a field of white with flashes of red or a field of yellow with spots of purple. You could also use a two- or three-color scheme to stunning effect.
There’s one important thing to keep in mind when selecting flowers. You will need to pick flowers that have very similar growing condition preferences so they can easily share the beds. Luckily, there are tons of flowers to choose from. The many great tried-and-true combinations out there to select between allow you a lot of freedom and creativity when it’s time to pick out the flowers for your new flower garden.
Plant, Nourish, and Enjoy Growing Flowers
Once you know what you want your garden to look like, it’s time to put the plan into action. As soon as the time is right to plant your flowers (which is usually in early spring or fall with most flower types), get them in the ground, then provide proper fertilization and watering.
Once your plants are established and your flowers start blooming, be sure to spend some time enjoying what you created. Creating and maintaining a beautiful garden is an art form, and it’s a lot of work. Those who put in the time and effort to plant and care for flowers should always take the time to appreciate a job well done.
Want to Learn More About Flower Gardening for Beginners?
Check out this video for suggestions on which flowers are the best choices for beginners to grow from seed:
Watch this video to learn how to start a perennial flower garden:
This video is a rundown of the easiest flowers to start with when you are new to gardening:
More information on flower gardening:
Better Homes and Gardens covers Follow These 10 Steps to a Magnificent Garden
dengarden cover Essential Gardening Tools for Beginners and How to Pick Them
Real Simple covers A Guide to Gardening Tools
Better Homes and Gardens explains in a video five helpful tips for starting a new flower garden bed.