How to plant low cost, low upkeep ‘forever flowering flowerbeds’
Don’t you just adore English style gardens?
A few years back, whenever I went to my gardening brother and sis-in-law’s place, the first thing I always wanted to do was look at their English styled garden borders around the perimeter of their backyard. Once upon a time I always had similar abundant colour forever popping up in my own garden. All on their own. Without me having to buy buy buy for each pretty petal.
That was three homes ago. It’s a different time now as my priorities have vastly changed over the years. However, that’s not to say I can’t have my low upkeep forever flowering flowerbeds back again on an even smaller scale.
This is a fence I walk by every morning. And all of these amazing flowers spring to life every summer. Every one of them is a perennial. If these beauties can grow along a fence, they can most certainly grow in your yard.
I’m going to rebuild my prized flowerbeds once again. If you like flowers, but with savings and lower upkeep attached, this post is for you!
How to build a low cost, low upkeep flower garden.
1. Prepare your soil well, prior
It’s a GIVEN that you have to prepare your soil to do a good job for your plants. I used homemade compost and peat moss in my beds, however if you have the means, I highly endorse ordering a truckload of soil/mushroom compost mix. No weeds and the growth will be AMAZING.
Yes, you can administer plant food after the planting is done, however the right way is to improve the soil beforehand so you don’t have to continue to doctor up your flower and veg beds all summer long. Do it once, do it right and you’re done!
For annuals, especially in baskets, I do like to add chemical liquid food or fish fertilizer throughout the growing season. They just do better.
2. Choose perennials over annuals.
The key to having forever flowers that come up every year without you having to repurchase is to simply choose flowers that will do that for you. It’s that easy.
I admit, you get more immediate impact with annuals, but unless you wish to purchase and plant over and over each season, starting a perennial flower garden is the answer to an eventual low cost AND low upkeep full colour backyard.
3. Costly? Buy one at a time.
I know. They’re expensive! Here’s my way around the problem.
Each shopping trip out, I’m allowed ONE perennial. Unless I come across the half price section as above. Then I can have… oh.. I dunno. Whatever I can get away with without feeling sick. 🙂 But watch it! The cha chings add up fast. One at a time is an affordable allowance.
4. Buy when in bloom
Reading flower tags trying to figure out when they’re due to bloom hazes my world. I don’t want to think that hard. So here’s what I do.
Look at your flowerbeds and notice that spot that needs colour? Go buy for that spot NOW with something in bloom so you can tell what it’ll look like.
5. Consider size and sun requirements
It’s a given to place tall in the back and small in the front. But remember width too. As well as sunny vs. shade. Indeed, this takes you back to label reading. But it’s worth your while to know what the future holds.
5. Shuffle on occasion
Once your plants get more established, you get a better visual on how the end result will look. So don’t be afraid, when the season is right, to water your plant well, then move it to a better location if need be. I do this all the time. Dig up the biggest rootball you can muster to avoid root distress.
I read somewhere that gardening is NEVER complete, for a true gardener will always shuffle to grasp for a more pleasing outdoor vignette. But doing this too much can slow down the growing progress. Shuffle, but know when to stop too.
6. Hire part time annuals to help out
Plant your perennials in forever places, but until they fill in, allow annuals in the mix to pick up the slack colour wise for the short term.
But if you DO get annuals, don’t use them sparingly. Annuals look best tightly grouped for the highest impact. And if you aren’t getting immediate impact, what’s the point of annuals again?!?
7. Allow annuals in non appropriate perennial spaces.
This can be in the form of flowering baskets or shallow features such as this wheelbarrow. But just know what you’re getting into. You’ll be replacing this entire area next year again and these areas will always be much more labor intensive during the growing season. They will need more water and more plant food. Enjoy them, but just be aware of the upkeep differences.
Case in point. When I went camping all summer, I never had to even water my perennial beds. But I had to ask for neighborhood help keeping up with my annuals and veg garden. It’s a well known fact avid campers generally have sparse gardens. Ask me how I know. 🙂
9. Budget helps
Watch for road side wild flower blooms (where legally permitted)
Trade small perennial samplings with your neighbors
Look for half price plants
Allow (applicable) blooms to fade and reseed themselves
Take clippings of some plants to regrow
10. Have patience
Going perennials is not a short term solution. This is about creating a garden that will fill in and bloom year after year. If this is your eventual goal for your yard, start today. Go buy your one flowering perennial next time you pick up your groceries. And make it your mantra to keep adding. You’ll be enjoying full season bloom before you know it!
So what’s your favorite perennial? Mine’s baby’s breath and lavender, and yes, I have them both this year. Yay! And fav annual? Sweet peas! Don’t have that yet. I need to go shopping. 🙂 Got any flower growing or planting tips you’d like to share?
More of my gardening tips