Planting is an essential component of any well-designed garden, and it’s even more important to do it right if you’re a city gardener and space is limited. A year-round combination of lively spring planting, an abundance of summer blooms, plenty of rich fall color and enough winter interest to keep the display going is the magic formula, with each individual plant earning its place in your planting scheme.
It may seem like your backyard is going into sleep mode, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of this time to pull out your sketchbook and start planning the best floral combination with our easy 5-step guide to see you right through the year.
1. Study your plot from all angles
Taking an overview of your growing space at the end of the season is always a good idea. When plants die, you can clearly see what is happening in your flower beds. Take photos of where your yard is most often viewed from and use that as a starting point.
It may be time to say goodbye to this haphazard approach of planting everything you like and hoping for the best. Instead, deciding on a more uniform planting theme that focuses on perennials that come back year after year, for example, will provide a more cohesive look.
Alternatively, if your flower beds are suddenly looking bare, you could consider adding a selection of evergreen shrubs to create year-round interest. Or if your dream is a cutting garden to fill vases with flowers indoors, focus on easy-to-grow, long-blooming flowers like cosmos, dahlias and zinnias, and start ordering seeds now.
It’s also a great time to consider that one thing you’ve always been meaning to do, like planting a small ornamental tree, adding a selection of scented plants – or those plants that make your backyard more relaxing – around the seating area or introducing a growing system Vertical. Plus, of course, create the perfect space for it.
2. Make a planting plan
Creating an accurate planting plan that details what you already have in your garden is an important part of garden design and something to return to regularly. Plants and garden trends come and go, so it’s a good idea to keep a journal that brings all your ideas together on paper. It’s also a great opportunity to see where you can grow new plants.
A planting plan also allows you to experiment with different planting design options, as well as determine how many plants you will need. It’s also a good opportunity to note how much sun and shade your garden gets, which of course ties into choosing the best plants for those specific conditions.
Draw out your flower beds and how you intend to fill them, using existing plants and new plants to help you create an aesthetically pleasing layout. As well as favorite varieties consider factors such as the height and shape of the plants, in addition to working on the color palette that you like, so plan your backyard planting ideas now to ensure that next year is beautiful.
3. Focus on how to fill any gaps in your farming
When the soil is bare in the winter, you will easily be able to spot any gaps in your planting that need to be filled. It’s also a good time to get rid of any plants that are underperforming and don’t justify their place, especially if your garden is small and space is a precious commodity.
If you have plants that only bloom for a couple of weeks (we’re thinking peonies, as much as we love them) you may want to consider replacing them with longer-blooming varieties (like Shasta daisies) that are arable. More worthy of your precious space. It is also a good time to move plants that may not be in the right place in terms of location or soil conditions, and have been disappointing as a result.
Consider filling in the gaps by adding seasonal color and interest with spring or summer flowering bulbs such as alliums and/or tulip bulbs that can be squeezed in between the perennials and will bloom later in the year.
A good rule of thumb for a planting plan is to focus on repeatedly planting many of the same plants, which will have a greater impact than a mixture of many different varieties. For inspiration, browse online seed catalogs and study what the plant will look like in situ, or go to a home depot center and group your plants together before making your final selection.
4. Get more star plants by propagating them
If there are certain plants that do well in your garden, get more by propagating them and spreading the love. It is possible to fill city square flower beds with repeated plantings of four or five easy varieties, and it is also an economical option. The good news is that many beautiful flowers like hydrangeas, sage and Japanese anemones are all easy wins when it comes to successfully taking cuttings to fill your plant collection.
My backyard is filled with gorgeous long-blooming varieties like hydrangeas and sage after I discovered how easy it is to multiply my existing plants. I like to take cuttings in the fall, when I have more time to care for them but the truth is I’ve found that I can take cuttings at almost any time of year and they all do really well.
So look at the plants you already have that are thriving, and make a plan to propagate them because this is definitely a case of ‘right plant, right place’, so why not make the most of them.
5. A plant for year-round interest
Getting the planting right is an essential part of how to plan your backyard planting ideas now to ensure next year will be beautiful. Plants play a major role in garden design in terms of adding colour, shape and texture, and work as part of an overall color scheme to create a cohesive design and a unified appearance.
Plants are key to creating a garden that has year-round interest, too. Take photos of how your backyard looks now, as well as during every other season, and it will help you put together a plan that works all year round. Remember that foliage is just as important as flowers, especially as a way to add color in the fall and winter.
On a more practical level, plants can be used to create a privacy screen, hide boundaries or enclose you in an immersive seating area. They can also elevate your garden’s sensory delights by adding fragrance or the soothing rustle of foliage, as well as attracting pollinators and songbirds to your space.
Plan your backyard planting ideas now to ensure next year is a beautiful one by including these tweaks as we’ve outlined here to take your backyard experience to the next level.