How to Start a Flower Garden

Flowers add color, beauty, and cheer to yards and landscapes everywhere. Here are some good tips on how to get started.

How To Start

Take time to plan. Sketch out your garden. Include the size, shape, and location. Look at the spot. Is the area sunny, shady, or a little bit of both? Watch it during the day to see how much or when the sun hits this spot. Impatiens, coleus, dusty miller, pansies, and begonias are a few annuals that do well in shade. Petunias, zinnias, and marigold, are a few varieties that grow best in full sun.

Choose the Right Flowers

Before you decide which flowers you might like, do your homework. Look in seed catalogs, garden books, and the Internet for information on the growing conditions needed for various varieties. Flower shows, greenhouses, and garden centers also offer good advice.

Consider Colors

Do you want the flowers to accent your house colors, or attract hummingbirds and butterflies, or are you interested in a theme such as red, white, and blue?

Know Your Growing Season

Keep in mind the length of your growing season and the last frost dates. Learn as much as you can before you plant the seeds or transplants.

Designing The Bed

Once you learn which types of flowers will grow in your location and decide which ones you’d like to plant, you can start designing the bed. Start small rather than large at first especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll need to outline the shape of your flower garden. A good way to do this is to use a garden hose. Then edge the area with a spade so you can see the borders. Till the inside area until the soil is all mixed up and there are no weeds or large rocks. Mix the soil with organic material such as compost or manure. You may want to test the pH of your soil. This will reveal its acidity and alkalinity. Most annuals do well in a level of 6.5. You can buy a tester and do this yourself, or you can take a sample to an extension service in your community.

General Rules for Planting

  • Keep tall plants in the back, medium in the middle, and short in the front. Plant as directed on labels, taking note of spacing.
  • Don’t plant annuals too close together or they may become crowded and not
  • Keep it simple.
  • Water, weed, and feed your garden throughout the season.
  • Pinch off the deadheads (flowers that are past their beauty). This will encourage more blooming.
  • Use your imagination! Have fun!

Don’t forget to check the Farmers’ Almanac’s Gardening Calendar before you plant!

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myrtle may

I’d like to add an old gardener’s “tip”, if I may. This is a technique that I’ve used for decades but have been surprised it isn’t more widely used – I actually won a small “prize” at a different website when I submitted it years ago!

When I start a new garden, for example when I planned a perennial bed for my new home in VA, I always use the garden hose or rope (something flexible) as you suggest for the layout. But then we till the bed, wet it down w/a garden hose & cover it w/clear or black plastic. The sun will sterilize the soil, killing weed seeds, fungi, bacteria & problems if you leave the plastic cover on long enough. It’s a tremendous aid for starting a bed in the middle of lawn, or weeds & gives a boost to organic growing – however, it works for everyone.

We usually plan a bed the season before we intend to plant it to get maximum solar sterilization, but it could be done early in the year w/clear plastic & planted later in the spring. After the plastic comes off, add your amendments & plant!

Hope this helps.


Is it as beneficial if you do it for your vegetable garden as well in the fall and leave the plastic all winter? How long do you leave your plastic on the flower bed? This sounds like a great tip, thank you for sharing.


I am new at this and has always been a dream of mine. Had always worked and my health was where I couldn’t be in sun. So all has changed and I’m looking forward to getting dirty and learning how to. So any help will do!!!


ive been searching when is agood time to plant flower seeds indoors? please send asap. THANKS

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