How to Start a Flower Garden This Summer

Are you tired of having a garden that’s filled with lifeless flowers and excessive piles of mulch, not to mention receiving a hefty bill from the garden center? Let’s take action and get your gardening groove back with these helpful tips on how to start a flower garden.

Start with a clean slate

When it comes to flower beds, there are essentially two types: those that have been properly prepared and those that are overrun with weeds.

Before planting, it’s important to assess the area thoroughly. Does it receive enough sunlight? Does water tend to accumulate in the area? Have you eliminated all roots, rocks, and weeds to create an optimal environment for your plants to flourish? Addressing these issues now is much easier compared to dealing with them after you have already planted the flowers and spread the mulch.

Identify your USDA Hardiness Zone

The state of Texas – located in the southern region of the United States – belongs to Zone 9 in the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. The map indicates the areas in which certain plant species will thrive and has become a go-to guide for plant enthusiasts and gardeners. The growing season in Zone 9 is long, thanks to its mild winters.

Identifying your area’s hardiness zone will give you a better understanding of which plants will thrive in your garden. Selecting flowering plants outside your zone means that they will most likely not be able to tolerate the cold or heat where you’re located, and they won’t probably return the following year. In this low-lying hardiness zone, hearty shrubs and tropical flowers are well-suited.  Texas has a variety of beautiful, low-maintenance, year-round blooms that thrive in constant heat. Some great examples are Hibiscus plants, Calibrachoa (Superbells), Climbing Nasturtium, Trailing Lantana, and Snapdragons.

Surely, getting an early start will add some mid-summer vigor to your garden and will reward you with a vibrant, productive garden come our beloved South Texas fall!

Prepare nursery plants

While nursery-grown bedding plants offer immediate satisfaction, the brief period between purchase and planting plays an important role in ensuring their survival.

To protect them from damage, carefully arrange the plants close together in your car. It is also important that you take them home right away so that they are not exposed to the scorching temperatures in your vehicle.

Water them immediately as soon as you get home. Continue watering them as needed in the following days, and a few hours before the actual planting, as this will help the delicate roots withstand the trauma of transplantation.

Create a winning edge

Maintain a neat and polished appearance for your garden by creating some well-defined edges. Avoid using inexpensive, short-lived plastic edges and choose a more enduring and natural alternative.

If you’re looking for an affordable solution, create a shallow trench around the bed using a spade and diligently maintain it throughout the season. For a more sophisticated and long-lasting option, consider installing an edge made of brick, concrete, or stone, set in leveling sand. Although the initial cost might be higher, these materials will significantly reduce your maintenance efforts and make mowing the area much easier in the long run.

Plan for the upcoming seasons

If you plan on replacing your plants in one or two seasons, consider planting annuals. Plant perennials if you want your plants to last longer. Or you can mix annuals with perennials for season-long color. To provide structure and year-round appeal, incorporate evergreen shrubs or ornamental grasses into your garden.

It’s also important to consider how high your plants will grow. Place low-growing flowers, typically annuals, at the front of the bed where they can be easily admired and replaced at the end of their blooming season.

Allow sufficient space

Follow the guidelines provided on the seed packet or plant tag. One commonly overlooked factor is the necessary space around each plant to facilitate healthy growth. Providing enough room for plants to spread and develop is important. If you want to cover a bigger area faster, try spreading flower varieties like Superbells and Climbing Nasturtiums.

Dig the perfect hole

When preparing the planting hole for each plant, make sure that it is twice as wide as the original pot. This will provide the roots enough space to expand and grow. To give your plants a better start, create a small trench along the inside of the hole, encouraging the roots to spread downwards and outwards.

While this step is not necessary for annuals, as they do not remain in the soil for an extended period to benefit from robust root systems, it can be particularly useful if you have clay soil, allowing for improved root development.

Plant it right

When planting nursery plants and transplants, make sure that their crowns – where the plant meets the soil – are level with the soil in the bed. If the crown is positioned above the soil level, there is a risk of the plant drying out when soil washes away from the roots. Planting the crown too low may lead to soil settling around it, potentially causing the plant to rot.

Carefully enclose the transplant with soil and firmly pack it in place using a trowel. This will help eliminate gaps between the roots, ensuring a secure and well-supported planting.

Mulch mindfully

Mulching plays a crucial role in moisture retention, root insulation, and weed prevention, but it’s important to apply it in moderation. A layer of one inch is all you’ll ever need. In fact, well-established garden beds may not even require mulch, as the plants themselves offer natural protection to the soil.

Different regions may have various types of mulches available. Regardless of the type you choose, remember one important rule: never pile it up directly against the plants. Excessive mulch can lead to plant decay.

A flower garden is a fantastic way to boost your home’s curb appeal. But creating the perfect flower garden can be intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner gardener. However, with these helpful tips on how to start a flower garden, and the right vision, techniques, and tools, you’ll be well on your way to starting a nice flower garden!


“10 Easy Steps to Create Gardens in Your Yard for the First Time,” Better Homes & Gardens,
“USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map,” U.S. Department of Agriculture,
“Flower Garden Design and Care Tips,” Almanac,
“9 Tips For Professional-Looking Garden Design,” High Country Gardens,
“Tips for transplanting trees and shrubs,” North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,
“How to Make a Flower Bed for Planting Beautiful Perennials, Annuals, and Beyond,” Martha Stewart,