HT Home & Garden

How to Start a Flower Garden in 3 Easy Steps


Troy Warren for Hometown Hall #homegarden-all


Fill your outdoor living space with color and fragrance this year by planting a new flower garden. Whether your space is a window box, a porch container, or a flower bed alongside your house, take time to plan your planting this spring for season after season of foliage and blooms.

Before you buy a cart full of plants, take some time to review these planting basics. Plan the flower bed, prep the soil and research the plants that will grow best in your climate. Getting it right the first time means less work and expense in the long run.

These three basics are essential for new gardeners and a timely refresher for experienced green thumbs.


Your flower garden can be as small as a window box or a container on a patio. It could be a raised garden bed or a brand new flower bed. Whatever the size, know the sunlight in your chosen location. Spend time outside and note the light and shade in the chosen spot throughout the day.

Remember that more sun equals more blooms. A south-facing flower bed that gets six hours of sunlight is ideal for drought-resistant perennials like coreopsis and coneflower. Filtered light works, too, you can just choose from a different group of plants like shade-loving hosta and heuchera.

Flower borders can be narrow or wide, from two feet up to eight feet. A wider flower border offers more opportunity to layer plants in clumps for a cottage garden look. Just be sure to build in room to maneuver when you need to prune, deadhead, or divide perennials.

Once you determine the location, amend and improve the soil before the plants go in the ground. If this is a window box or container, buy a well-draining, moisture-retentive potting mix for the best start. Raised garden beds need a special mix of organic material and nutrients. Buy a raised garden soil or mix your own from amendments like garden soil, peat and compost.

In a flower border, remove weeds and amend the soil. If this is a new bed, put down a layer of landscape fabric to block weeds and top with six inches or more of garden soil or top soil. In an existing bed, amend the soil with composted manure before planting.

The ideal location will need adequate drainage. A swampy site is good for water-loving plants, but most perennials like dry feet. Consider, too, how you will water the garden. Is a garden hose nearby, or will you need a watering can to water by hand? An irrigation system will make gardening easier, and this will affect your choice of plants. Learn more about prepping the site for flowers.


Prioritize and plan your garden according to height, color and spacing. Place taller plants and shrubs in the back, smaller plants near the front. 

Consider ornamental grasses like Muhly grass and Fireworks Pennisetum to add height and structure. Use small shrubs like distylium, nandina, loropetalum, and ligustrum to anchor a flower bed and contribute evergreen interest in winter.

When planting a container or window box, keep in mind the thriller, spiller, filler formula. Set the taller element near the back and fill in with colorful elements and a final fillip draping over the edge. Annuals are lovely in flower beds and containers. Learn more about planting annuals in your garden. 


When it’s time to plant, follow directions on plant tags for spacing, keeping in mind the mature height. Use good quality garden soil as you plant, and be gentle when pulling plants out of their containers. Water new plants well and water frequently until they’re established. A top dressing of mulch helps new plants retain moisture and keeps the roots cool.

Your garden will grow along with your gardening skills. Begin with a limited color palette. Three colors is a good place to start. For example, shades of yellow, orange and red can create a monochromatic look, as can a serene selection of pinks and pale purples.

In the fall, you can add bulbs either in the ground or containers, for spring blooms. As you learn more, you may want to expand by adding edibles like kale and herbs to your flower bed. You can try growing from flowers from seed; zinnias are easy and provide a fiesta of color in the summer heat. Learn more about caring for your flower garden.

Whether you need the right planters, seeds or potting soil, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.