Day to Day Adventure: Building Perennial Flower Beds

Monday, June 6, 2011

Building Perennial Flower Beds

imageWow summer finally has arrived!  I am not sure where spring went but we’ve jumped right in to mid 90 temperatures. 

That means a couple of things. 

#1 Joshua, my 9 year old, will be in the water as much as possible.  He is armed with water balloons & guns.  He pretty much lives in his swim trunks right now.

#2 I am out in my garden A LOT!  I love growing plants/flowers!

The tomato plants in my crowded garden are growing nicely.  I am out there every morning or evening to water & pull weeds.  This is not a big job because we laid newspaper in the paths between rows & covered it with bagged grass from mowing.   I like this challenge because I get satisfaction out of feeding my family from the garden.

Another challenge—planting flowers in a shady yard. 

We have a ton of trees which makes our yard nice & shady but challenging to plant perennials.  I like to do some annuals but truly I love the ease of plants/flowers coming up year after year without a lot of work on my part.  I have carved out one spot of sun to have a flower garden.  And you guessed it—there are perennials in it.

Starting Point

Just pick one place to work on this year.  If you try to tackle it all then you will be quickly overwhelmed.  Also, looking at gardening magazines & blogs are a great way to get ideas. 

I try to add at least one perennial plant to each area I am working on each year. This year I am working in more than one area because I feel like I can handle it and the kids are helping. It is one thing to do it by yourself & another to have helpers. :)


Your dirt is important.  If it is clay(as mine is) you are going to have to help it along.  I add peat moss, sand & compost every spring to loosen things up.  I also will turn over the dirt in the fall & mix in leaves to help increase the quality of the soil.  Don’t just start sticking plants in the dirt—you may need to make some changes.

Buying Plants

I love perennials.  Perennials = Low maintenance. 

--It comes up year after year

--Often multiplies & gives you more.

--Perennial plants are NOT more expensive than annuals.  Think about it.  You spend $4-10 on a nice 1/2 gallon or gallon size plant.


Filling a bed with annuals year after year = spend more money & time in the long run. 

Plant something that will last & you can move your focus on to another bed or area of your yard. 

Free(or nearly free) Plants

Ask your friends or better ask people with gorges flower gardens.  Most plants will spread or multiple each year—hmmm I bet God planned it that way!  So there are some years I just can’t give away enough Iris’s.  Last year my mother-in-law had purple coneflower’s everywhere & guess who took every one she would give away?  Gardeners are willing to share and when you have some extra—give it away!

Another nearly free way to boost your gardens?  Don’t shop up front at the home & garden store.  Go to the back.  Sometimes there will be racks of reduced plants there that are done flowering or have gotten a bit dried out or root bound so the store will clearance them.  They will not always grow, they will sometimes take a full year to bloom again but you will have paid a fraction of the cost. 

At Easter when the lily’s are done blooming?  Volunteer to "take care” of the plants from church.  I had a couple that way & just stuck them in the ground.  They were seriously dead looking when I planted them.  This year?  Well they haven’t bloomed yet but I just can’t wait!

Last time I was at my hairdressers house she mentioned that she had Lamb’s Ear that she wanted GONE.  It had spread & she was tired of it.  So I volunteered to dig it up for her.  It is going to fill in this hard to mow spot and a couple of others around the yard!  Thanks Dalene!

Final word

As you probably can tell I try to make gardening as easy as possible.  One more tip is to MULCH, MULCH, & add more MULCH.  I hate to spend the $ on shredded bark but it is worth it.  Pulling the weeds gets old so if you can’t buy mulch at least lay down newspaper and cover it with grass that you are mowing up anyway.  Mulching helps retain the moisture in the soil, keeps the weeds back, enrich the soil, and generally looks nicer.

So there is how I’ve gotten my perennial gardens going without spending an arm & a leg.  Do you have any great tips to share?  Or maybe a flower or two to trade.  Chime in and tell us how you’ve done it.

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Shared at

Simple Lives Thursday


  1. Oh I love gardening too. I have several spots in my yard and I try to add a couple of new perineals each year. Your hosta really looks nice under the tree in your front yard.

  2. Great post. We started planting perennials a few years ago. Haven't added to them much but your post is rather inspiring. Purple coneflower's are perennials? I like those.

  3. Okay, I've been wanting to do gardening, but really had no idea how to start, though, there are tons of information on the Web, in books, etc. Seems like I needed someone to go step-by-step with me. They do, but they don't.

    Your instructions seems very simple and "doable" sooooo I am going to try again.

    I'll let you know.

    Thanks...I'm going to subscribe too so that I don't miss anything:)

  4. One more question, how do I start? I don't really know the names of any flowers except Roses, but I love the flowers that look like the flower in the picture that you have framed—the yellow one. I would love to try tomatoes too.

    I'm in TX and it is so HOT here I can't believe it!!!

  5. Julie--my purple coneflowers came back this year & I know my m-i-laws do also. Love them!

    Angela--Gardening can be trial and error. I have killed a lot of things getting my garden where it is today. My advice? Pick one spot to work on and plant one thing. Don't overload yourself. I would also go wander around a good local nursery. They will be a lot of help with what will grow easily in your neck of the woods. Things will be much different in TX than here in MO. Good luck!


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