Makeover Step 10 – Plant the Gardens

At this point, you’ve installed your hardscapes and have your planting beds prepared to plant.  It’s finally time to get some plants in the ground.

Plant the backbone first

Take out your landscape features list once more.  All your hardscape features should be installed.  The next step will be to install your anchor plantings.  These are the large shrubs or trees that make up the backbone of the garden.  Your anchor plantings should already be part of your design, (see Bring it Together ) , but if you feel you need to add more, this is the time to do it.  We usually use anchor plants to mark transitions between landscape features (especially between hardscapes and planted areas).  The most common anchor plants are seen at the corners of houses.  This helps the house transition into the landscape.

Another use of anchor plants is as focal points.  Focal points are plantings or hardscapes that draw attention to themselves.  Statues, fountains, birbaths, and specimen trees and shrubs can all be used as focal points.

Go ahead and plant your anchor plants.

After you’re done, step back and see how things look.  It’s normal to change a few things at this stage.  Do your anchor plants look good where they are?  Do you need more?  Are there any that look out of place?  Move, add or take away plants if you need to.  Trust your instincts.  Don’t feel the need to stick to every detail of your design.

When you’re done with the anchor plantings, it’s time to install the remaining planted features like flower gardens, hedges, etc.  Hedges should go in first, then gardens.

Planting the gardens

If you remember, we’ve taught you not to bother designing gardens down to the exact plants to be used when you’re designing. Well, now it’s time to create your gardens and select the plants to do it.

Here at Garden Design for Living, we’ve created our own method for constructing gardens.  This method was made for homeowners with little or no garden design experience.  Check out our section Plant an Amazing Garden before you try to spend hours learning traditional methods. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to get amazing results.   Once you’ve got a handle on how it works, come back and start planting!

Whatever method you use, here are some basic tips to help you out along the way:

  • Plant larger, taller plants in the back
  • Don’t plant right to the very edge of your property.  Leave some space to walk behind your gardens.
  • Don’t plant to close to your house or other structures.  Leave at least 3 feet of space between structures and pants.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the process.  Build your garden one plant at a time if necessary.
  • Keep in mind how plants grow and change over the season and over the years before you plant them.
  • Start planting from the back of the garden and work forward.
  • Picture your garden in the winter season.  You may want to add some plants for winter interest.
  • Focusing on leaf color, texture and plant shape will pay off more than selecting plants for just their flowers.

Filling in the last spaces

The last part of the planting process will be to plant any “filler” plants that are necessary to blend together your different landscape features.

Once your gardens are planted, stand back and take a look.  Your design is almost complete. It should look amazing.  Take a look at how the different features of the design flow together.  Are there any gaps or tough spots where things don’t flow together well?  This is where you might need to put a few extra filler plants,  Go ahead and add them as necessary.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

When you’ve planted your last plant, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.  How does it look?  You’ve come a long way.  The last step in planting is to mulch your planted beds.  Give some thought to the color mulch you want to use.  I find that darker colors almost always work best.  There are even back mulches on the market now.    I would suggest staying clear of dyed products.  There are many different natural colors you can use.  My favorite is natural black.  it’s a little hard to find, but I think it works great to show off any garden.  If you can’t decide, then a nice dark natural hemlock mulch is always a safe bet.

Next:  Irrigation and Lawn