Each year as the weather warms up, we can’t help but start thinking about what we’re planting in the garden! We love how therapeutic gardening is and we also love having a beautifully landscaped and colorful yard. After a long, cold winter, the thought of spending time outside is just too appealing to pass up. One of our favorite summer pastimes is backyard entertaining, which means creating the perfect space for your guests to enjoy. We love embodying the essence of the spring season and the rebirth of nature coming out of winter. With that being said, we like to spruce up the landscape and try something new. Whether your yard is big or small, shady or full of sun, we have the plants for you. We’re also breaking down important tips like when to plant and the best ways to maintain your beautiful garden. Here’s to yummy smelling, bright and colorful yards to fill with amazing memories this season.
The first thing to research when planning your garden is timing. What’s the ideal time of year to plant your flowers? When in the season is their peak blooming? Will they last the whole season, or only partially? The answers for these questions will vary depending on which plants you pick. It’s also good to know some general vocabulary. In our opinion, the most common terms you’ll need to know revolve around the lifespan of a plant. Perennials are planted once, but should come back to life each season as long as they remain happy and healthy. Annuals will only live and bloom for the season that they’re planted in. While these are the two most common categories, some will fall under categories like biennial, which means they will last for two seasons. The final piece of the puzzle is sun exposure. Do your plants like the sun, shade, or a combination of the two? Plants that thrive in full sun need to be in a space where they will receive six to eight hours of sunshine a day. Partial sun/shade will need to be somewhere with three to four hours of direct sunlight where plants that do best in shade only need two hours.
Mostly shady yard? No problem, there are so many great plants that love that shady spot. Which means having a shady yard doesn’t mean you can’t still have a beautiful garden! Our top picks for your perfect garden are hostas, astilbe, foxglove, and primrose.
Hostas are a perennial and fast favorite of many. We categorize them under shade, but truth be told they can actually vary depending on what color hosta you decide on. There’s a huge range of color, from dark, deep greens all the way to a very light, almost cream color. An easy way to remember is that the darker variety you select, the more shade it likes! So the darkest hostas will like more shady homes while a light hosta will want more sunshine.
Astilbe is also a perennial and another great option! These bright blooms really add some color to your shady spaces. They come in a variety of colors including whites, pinks, deep reds, and purples. Astilbe can come in a smaller variety, topping out at a foot in height, or you can make a statement with flowers reaching three or four feet tall. We love mixing them in with our Hostas for a great combination of colors and textures.
We love the unique look of a Foxglove, but make sure you’re aware of it’s poisonous properties before adding this beauty to your garden. If you have small children or pets that are not under careful watch outdoors, you’ll want to avoid planting any Foxglove in your garden! If that’s a non-issue, these biennials are sure to make a statement in your outdoor space. They can flourish in shade, partial shade, or sun, which gives them some great flexibility in terms of where you choose to plant. These flowers are another that can grow to some height — maturing to be anywhere between two and five feet tall — so make sure you have plenty of space for them.
If you’re looking for a shorter, less overwhelming yet still beautiful option, consider Primrose. A great trait of these perennials is that they tend to multiply each year, so not only are you saving money by not having to re-plant on an annual basis, but you also will have more and more color each season! You can get some really beautiful color combinations in these flowers, which make a great addition to any flower bed.
Maybe you have the opposite scenario and your yard is full sun all the time. That works too! There are plenty of plants that survive and thrive in a nice sunny space. For this yard, our picks are daylilies, shasta daisies, black eyed Susans, and coneflowers.
Daylilies have a huge range of variety within the species. There are different sizes, colors, form, and even fragrances available. We love that there are so many options to choose from for this hardy perennial. We say hardy because for something that offers so much beauty, they truly are hardy, requiring little attention or maintenance. We recommend mixing your bed with daylilies that bloom early-, mid-, and late-season so that you can enjoy them all season long. The blooms are short-lived, giving the plant its name, with most flowers opening in the morning and dying by nighttime. Don’t let that dissuade you though, each flower stem has at least a dozen buds, so you’ll still have blooms for a few weeks.
We love the classic look of Shasta Daisies. These white beauties are a great perennial that love the sunshine and are easy keepers. You don’t have to worry about these guys becoming invasive like some other species of daisies, but they are great to cut and bring inside to enjoy, too! They can grow to be larger, maxing out around three feet tall, so keep that in mind when planning out your space.
Black Eyed Susans add a great pop of sunshine and warmth to your space. These daisy-like flowers are a really fun addition that come in a number of varieties with different properties. Keep an eye on this when you’re making your selection as some are perennials while others are annuals. There’s also a great different in growth height and whether or not they self-seed.
Coneflowers offer another colorful variety of daisy-like blooms. These perennials are very resilient and bloom from early summer right on through to the first frost of the year. The range of brightly colored and deliciously smelling blooms also attract butterflies, which adds another touch of magic to your space. Even after the flowers have died and the petals have dropped, the cones of seeds will still attract various songbirds!
Do you have a trellis or arbor of some sort that you dream of having beautiful floral growth on? Climbing plants are a great option for a smaller or more urban space where you can’t necessarily plant a lot of garden beds. They also add a special touch to lamp posts or mailbox posts! It’s not always easy to find the right climbing plants, but our picks are morning glories, trumpet vine, and moonflowers.
There is a vast array of Morning Glories to choose from. This plant is more of a flowering vine and is perfect for climbing or covering rock walls. Their name comes from the fact that the blooms open each morning and close in the evening. They come in a variety of colors including blues, purples, yellows, and white. They also love the sunshine, so not a good pick for a shady area.
Trumpet Vine is a fast-growing perennial that will add quite a bit of color to your space while also attracting wildlife like hummingbirds! These will need some pruning and attention, they can grow up to thirty or forty feet each season. Because of this, some consider them invasive, but really you just need to keep an eye on the maintenance and do not fertilize.
If you’re looking to add a relaxing and delicious fragrance to your space, take a look at Moonflowers. These stunning flowers come in white or purple and will take your breath away. This vine is closely related to the Morning Glory, so the blooms will open in the afternoon and close again at night. If you’re located in a sub-tropical climate, you can treat this one as a perennial. However, the folks with a cold winter will have to treat them as annuals.