Woohoo! It’s almost summer, folks. Can you feel it? Beach days? Popsicles? Kids swinging from the rafters? My girls and I can’t wait to soak in every bit of summer, and we’ve been working hard over the past month to prepare the front yard of Our DIY House for optimal summertime enjoyment. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a green thumb whatsoever, but this year I vowed to myself and my family that I would find one. I wanted to work as hard as I could to get our front yard looking happy and welcoming and ready for summer. With the help of The Home Depot and some truly gold advice from my gardening savvy friends and family, I’ve created a low maintenance flower bed in front of our home that will be perfect for my non-green-thumbness. It’s romantic looking, it’s zone 3 hardy, and I want to share with you how I created it today along with some more photos of the exterior progress on Our DIY House.
Here are some valuable tips I’ve learned when designing a low maintenance foundation planting around your home. These flower bed planting tips will help keep my beds easy to upkeep and made the process relatively pain free and even fun!
Lay It Out
I like designing anyhow, so this was an easy step for me. It will save you so much hassle in the future if you draw out the dimensions of your flower bed and where you want your plants. I found this set of foundation planting ideas, and I loved the South exposure plan, so I based my own flower bed design off of it. You can also decide upon a colour scheme at this stage – I chose to go with tones of pink, white, purple and green (obviously!).
Prepare Your Beds
This is by far the hardest part of this project, especially if you’re working with soil that’s never been dug like I was! Measure out your flower beds with a tape measure, mark them out with chalk, and then DIG. I used a fork and a spade to dig our new beds out, and we sifted out all of the grass and weeds (and their roots) as we went. It was tough work. We dug into the soil about 12 inches, removed all of the quack grass and weeds, and then broke it up with a fork. We also rotor tilled at the end to further break up the soil. This is the stage that you would amend the soil if needed with compost and/or fertilizers.
Now’s the time to install any immovable elements in your flower beds – paths, edging etc. We chose not to use any hard edging for our beds for a more relaxed look, but I did add in a river rock path through one side of our garden. The dogs kept running through this spot, so I thought it would be a pretty and practical feature.
Do Your Plant Research
I knew that I wanted to find flowers and other plants that were zone 3 hardy for our front beds. I also wanted perennials – plants that will come back year after year. It’s a good idea to research what plants you’d like to purchase before hand so that you know if they’ll work in your growing zone and how big they’ll get. The Home Depot has a great plant library online that share details descriptions of a variety of plants as well as how to plant and care for them. Some of the plants I chose are above, and we also mixed in some heritage perennials my mom gave us (peonies and a crabapple tree) and some hardy roses we had already collected. I noticed that The Home Depot has a one year guarantee on some of the plants I chose, so that made me really happy! During the middle of preparing the beds, I decided that I also wanted some productive plants – fruit & edibles – so I researched some that were a good height and hardiness for our beds too.
Buy Happy Plants
We bought our plants for our front bed at The Home Depot where they looked happy and healthy. Look for plants that have been well cared for and ready to go to their new home. We have a Home Depot garden center close to home, and then a couple more in The Big City, so I was able to find everything I needed between all of the stores. The plants were well labeled and healthy, and I was able to look up ones that I hadn’t thought of in the planning stages via The Home Depot Plant Library on my phone! Plus, the girls got to ride the orange car cart. Bonus.
Read the directions for each plant as you plant them; they were right on the label of our Home Depot plants. Most of ours required digging a hole that was the same depth but twice the width of the plants we purchased and then amending the soil around the root ball before you tamped everything down. Create a well around each plant to hold water. Reference your original plan to make sure your plants are going in the right spots! We have a row of smaller perennials (small roses) in the front of our beds, mid-height ones in the middle (peonies and a blueberry), larger ones in the back (lilacs, hydrangeas) and trees on the sides (crabapple and cherry).
Water Like There’s No Tomorrow
The first few weeks of your flower bed are a crucial time to water everything well. We found out that our well water was too salty for our plants, so we made sure to water the beds with rainwater we collected and pumped through a hose. The wells you’ve made around your plants will help retain the water, and I find it’s best to water at night so that the water doesn’t evaporate so quickly in the hot sun of the day.
A great way to make a garden lower maintenance is to add a layer of mulch. Mulch helps suppress weeds and keep moisture in your flower beds. We chose to add a few inches of black mulch (you can find some here at The Home Depot) because I love how it contrasts with the white trim and grey siding of our home. It also just adds such a nicely finished look to our front yard:
Ain’t it pretty?
Now, we’re working on making our country lawn less of a quack grass-y lawn and more of a “real” lawn. We grabbed a few bags of these guys – Vigoro Grass Seed, and I just finished sprinkling it on our front yard and we’re watering away.
I also found some beautiful, shade-loving annual planters for beside our front door under our porch from The Home Depot. Their pink and white to match the colour scheme I chose, and they’re growing so nicely!
I think my green thumb is coming along. I hope I’ll make my mama, her mama, and her mama’s daddy proud – they are and were all brilliant gardeners. I’m now realizing that it really just is a lot of hard work, but that it’s SO worth it.
Our front yard will be enjoyable for years to come, and I’ve found gardening to be the ultimate stress relief for me this spring. I’m really growing to love it!
And look at the change from last year to this year – it’s encouraging to see what a difference a little DIY has done:
Thanks to The Home Depot for helping me tidy up our front yard and get it ready for an epic summer of front yard water fights, flower picking and home-grown berries!
Here are the plants I chose for our front beds:
- hardy roses (Morden Blush, Morden Belle)
- Dwarf Alberta Spruce (for near the entry & for colour all year long)*
- Limelight Hydrangea*
- Juliet Cherry
- Bird’s Nest Spruce
- Hardy Blueberry
- Rudolph Crapapple (from my mom)
*The zone 3 hardiness of these ones are so-so, but I wanted to give them a go. I’ll keep you posted on how they make it through our -40 degree celcius winter!
What do you think of our front yard progress? Do you have any low-maintenance gardening tips to add?
For more gardening tips, read this article about Gardening Basics or this one about Helping Flowering Shrubs and Perennials Thrive.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The Home Depot Canada. As always, all of the opinions and experiences here are purely my own.