Planning flower beds; how to plant flower beds

Whether you want a big, showy patch of color or a narrow border of bloom, choose a place with good drainage that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.

The first step is planning. Before you buy a seed or lift a spade, make a sketch (graph paper helps) and decide what’s to go where. In a large bed, allow for a stepping-stone or two so you can work without doing damage.

Start with the perennials. They’re the plants that last year after year. Choose plants that are hardy in your area and will give a good blend of color. Some bloom early and some bloom late but the foliage usually lasts all season, so think about the color and texture of the leaves. Allow each plant enough space to flourish. Consider height as well as width, putting taller plants in the back or center.

Next come bulbous plants, such as daffodils, irises, tulips, gladioli, and daylilies. Most of these bear showy blossoms that last only a little while. They look best in groups; to heighten the effect repeat the groupings at intervals.

Leave space for annuals from seed or for a succession of bedding plants. Because these are replaced often, you can let your imagination run free. Try different colors and different groupings. You can even intersperse herbs and such vegetables as lettuce and broccoli. Planting the bed

Mark out the space and dig or rototill at least 9 inches deep, working in organic matter and fertilizer as needed. Then divide up the space according to your plan, using stakes in place of individual plants, and string to outline groups.

Plant perennials first, then (according to season) bulbs and annuals. Outline the bed with railroad ties, bricks, or flat stones set flush with the soil so that they won’t block lawnmower wheels.