Planting Flowers vs. Designing a Garden

Planting Flowers vs. Designing a Garden…what is the difference?

If you have to ask that question, then you’ve planted flowers and you’re probably not happy with the outcome. You wouldn’t just walk into your kitchen, open the pantry and throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot and call it dinner. And, you can’t just stick some plants into the earth and call it gardening. You start with a meal plan in the kitchen and follow a recipe for each dish. Now you’re going to start with a plan for your gardens.

You can adjust the plan along the way; it’s not carved in granite. In fact, once you get the gardens planted, if you’re happy with them, you can use the new gardens as your plan, and add or substitute a few plants each season, just to add variety and interest.

In a sentence, throwing plants into the dirt is unconscious gardening while gardening by design is conscious gardening. The results speak volumes. Remember, part of gardening is envy! With a little work on the design phase of gardening, your yard will be the one the neighbors envy.

Eight Steps to Designing a Garden of Your Dreams

If you’re new to gardening, you’ll want to work through each of the steps below. If you have some experience, you’ll pick up a few tricks to perfect your own design plan. This is not the Holy Grail to garden design. It’s meant as a guide to get you started and kick start your imagination. Use what works for you.

1. Assess what you already have.
2. Determine your needs
3. Set your priorities
4. Get ideas for your gardens
5. Master essential elements of garden design
6. Plot your dream gardens
7. Select Your Plants
8. Prepare your garden beds

You’ll find tips and tricks on our site. You’ll find lists of resources as well.

In addition, we recommend that you take advantage of your local Cooperative Extension Services. Each state university operates this department as a public service. They’re staffed with scientists, horticulturists and trained volunteers (also known as Master Gardeners) who are familiar with your local conditions. Most of their services are free, and the service that they provide to farmers and hobby gardens is indispensable. They can help you with everything from soil analysis (that service is generally offered at a nominal fee) to landscaping design, to plant selection to pest control. This is one area where your tax dollars work for you if you take advantage of the service.