Annual flowers deliver spectacular splashes of color in our summer garden beds. Planted and tended with care, most provide months of blooming flowers, and fill the gaps when the perennials fade. Read on to learn the professional garden care secrets for preparing a successful annuals garden bed.
Prepare the garden bed. Damp soils are easier to work in; set a sprinkler to lightly water the bed a day or two before your planting day. Adding peat and composted manure is the next step to growing lush and beautiful flowers. Over time, your soil quality will improve by adding these soil amendments every year.
Open the bag of peat by jabbing your garden shovel across the top.
Flip it over, dump it out, and spread it around with your shovel or a rake. It should be a couple of inches deep. Peat adds nutrients and aids the water holding capacity of the soil.
Next, add the composted manure. Don’t worry, this product does not smell and has the texture of rich dirt. The composting process kills any weed seeds. Composted manure adds nutrients and improves the texture of all types of soils.
Manage your worksite as you go. Placing a rock on the bags will keep them from blowing away and makes clean up easier. Trust me, chasing after stray manure bags is not fun!
Turn the soil to mix the amendments. A simple dig, flip, and chop method does the trick. When you plant your flowers you can mix each planting hole more thoroughly. Rodents and worms will dig around and assist you as well. Remove any weeds you discover as you turn the soil.
Now the fun part! Buy annuals that are appropriate for your light level. The tags will tell you if they require sun or shade, expected bloom time, height, and how far apart to plant them. A knee kneeling pad comes in handy for planting annuals in the ground. Wear gloves and use a garden trowel for planting.
This garden is about three feet deep and appropriate for three rows of annuals. A common trowel is about 10 inches long and makes a simple ruler for spacing the flowers.
Pop out the annual plugs by gently squeezing the bottom of the plant pack. Make sure the plugs were watered before starting to plant as this is a bit stressful for them.
Space out the plugs in a loose zig zag pattern. This will look more pleasing than straight lines. Estimate about one trowel distance between each flower.
Plant the plugs. Plant at the same soil level as the plug, if the roots are exposed to air they will dry out too fast. A small bed like this one will look best with large patches of a similar flower. Resist the urge to plant too close together. It may look sparse for a couple of weeks , but the flowers will fill out as stated on the tag. Over crowded plants suffer more disease and problems down the road.
Water your plants. This step is called muddying them in. Add fertilizer if desired.
Next, add a layer of mulch to the garden. Water the garden again. Mulch helps keep moisture in the soil and reduces erosion. Mulch also helps prevent airborne weed seeds from sprouting and reduces disease by keeping soil from splashing onto your plants.
Make a list of what and how many plants you used or place your plant tags in a ziplock. This step will help you when planning next year’s garden.
The featured garden is about 3 feet x 12 feet. Amendments included one 2 cubic foot bag of mulch, four 40-pound bags of manure, and one 2 cubic foot bale of peat. Enjoy your gardens!
You may have to water the garden twice a day for the first few weeks until the roots are established.
Check the flower plugs daily. Rodents and squirrels have a habit of flipping out the plants as they bury nuts in the freshly dug soil.