Spring is here and we have kicked our yard work in full gear. I have found myself having a few convos about how we manage our lawn, flower beds, etc lately, so I figured I’d get my ideas “on paper.”
First off, like most of the things you’ll see me post, I really try to keep things affordable and simple, and this is no different. The basics I’ve learned through the gardening process are: have good soil/mulch for your flower beds and invest in perennials or reseeding annuals.
We had a truck load of pine bark mulch delivered to us this spring from the local lawn care supplier. For just over $100, we had enough mulch to cover all of our existing beds in the front and back yards, as well as start several new beds. Doing a thick layer for the beds helps with weed control and it will break down over time like compost and fertilize the bed.
I add fruit and veggie scraps from food prep, pumpkins from Halloween, yard clippings, etc throughout the year and dump it into the garden where I grow veggies at the end of the growing season. At the beginning of the next growing season, I till up the soil to mix everything in with the clay. I also add a bag of cow manure about once a year – it is great for the soil as well. Note: If you have earthworms in the compost or in the soil – BE GLAD. Earthworms are wonderful for the soil, their poop is good for the soil and they will aerate the ground for you.
The north side of our house is super shady and damp. It never gets a lot of sun. (This pic shows probably the max amount of sun it gets each day).
I adore Hydrangeas for large shrubs. They are amazing, easy to maintain, and are easy to make great fresh-cut bouquets. These are the blooms I had last year. I don’t do any special maintenance, just add mulch as needed and water when it is super hot/dry out in the late summer.
Hostas are great perennials, as long as they are out of the sun. I planted a bunch this year in our new beds. The cool thing is that there are a ton of leaf-coloring variations, so you can take your pick with your faves!
My other “stand-by” for shaded areas are Impatiens. They are annuals and not perennials, but they will reseed themselves every year fairly reliably.
We struggled a lot with our full sun areas the first couple of years. Once again, I learned that thick mulch and the proper perennials help greatly. After much trial and error, we had a few successes.
For reseeding annuals, marigolds have done well for us. They come back year after year and get fairly large.
I rely on bulbs as well – daffodils, day lilies, gladioli, and irises. A tip on transplanting bulbs, do NOT expect blooms the first year. They are adjusting and will need to time to set up their root systems. If, after the second year, there aren’t any blooms, you may want to consider changing locations to a more sunny spot. Day lilies and glads are great for the summer, daffodils and irises are great for spring. One pet peeve I have with glads is they get too tall and lean over, so I recommend layering them with other plants that can offer some support so you can avoid the issue I had.
Here is my bed with irises, daylilies, and daffodils alternated in it. The daffodils are new so they will likely bloom for me next year.
This is my bed FULL of glads. I planted some dahlias in front of them this year for an experiment. Hopefully, they will offer some support!
For fall colors, I have mums all over my beds. They are green and leafy in the summer and bloom in the late summer/early fall. You ideally want to have things that will bloom at different times in the same bad to keep cycling through colors throughout the year. Take your time and layer different things over a couple of years, if you use plants that will come back year after year, you’ll get a good idea of what you want to “fill in” with new plants.
I took the above pic last fall, the yellow flowers are the mums.
For smaller “shrubs” I am a new fan of knock out roses, they are the easiest rose variety to maintain (as in, zero maintenance) and they aren’t was needy as other roses – which I find intimidating.
This is one I planted this year, and surrounded with petunias, another sun-loving annual. I’ve had some issues with neighbors letting their dogs walk into my street side flower beds, so I’m hoping that a prickly shrub will cut back on some of that. At the very least, it is pretty to look at!
Here is the one I planted last year, it should be blooming for me soon as well. It’s a great accent to the end of our front bed.
Happy Planting! Next up – Tomato 101!