Do you have a flower garden that desperately needs a makeover? Or, perhaps your flower garden is just overgrown and needs help. Maybe you inherited a complete weed pit from previous owners of your home. Perhaps it’s just a mish mash jumble of a garden that needs some TLC. Maybe it was once a great garden, but now trees have grown up and what was once a sunny spot is now a shady spot. No matter what your situation, we’re going to get you started on your way to having a flower garden you can be proud of with these tips on how to makeover your flower garden.
We have lived in our current home for just over three years. It’s a little fixer upper just perfect for empty nesters. When we purchased the home, we knew the yard and gardens needed more fixing up than the inside of the house. Truthfully, the outside interested me more than the inside. The yard is one-half acre with lots of gardens that were overgrown with invasive perennials and just full of weeds. Over the past three summers, I have been renovating those flower garden spaces and adding more gardens. As always, I’m writing from my own experience.
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I love looking at other flower garden makeovers besides my own to get ideas. But, I hate looking at amazing flower garden or backyard renovations, just to find out the homeowners used a landscape designer. If you can afford a landscape designer, go for it. Even if you want to execute the plan yourself, it would be so nice to have a plan made out for you. If this is the direction you want to take, this post probably isn’t for you. This post is for the DIY home gardener that doesn’t have the funds, or chooses not to spend their money on landscape design.
If you are dealing with lots of flower gardens that need redoing, I highly recommend starting in one area and working on it until you have it finished and then move on to the next area. I’ve been working on our flower gardens for 3 years and I still have more to do.
Below is just one of the weed pits I’ve been working on in our yard.
Tips for Identifying Perennials
If you’re starting with a mess, like me, you’ll need to assess you situation. Unless you are familiar with plants, you may choose to wait a season to see the blooms and determine what kinds of perennial plants you have.
If you need some help with plant identification, there are many plant identification apps available. Garden Answers is one I use. Just do a google search and you can find many more. You might also want to do a search on Facebook for gardening groups in your area. These groups are a wonderful way to get help with plant identification, as well as great places to get local gardening information.
How to Clean Out A Weedy Flower Garden
First, you want to dig up all the plants you want to keep. If they are overgrown, its very easy to divide most perennials. Dividing and transplanting overgrown perennials is a great way to revitalize them. Be sure to pull out any weeds that you dug up with the plant. If you aren’t going to be able to replant within a few days, pot up the plants you want to reuse. Water them well and keep them in a shady spot. If you are doing a flower garden makeover in a weekend, it’s okay to place the plant divisions in the shade without potting them. Again, just be sure to water your rescued plants well.
Now all that should be left are weeds and plants you want to get rid of. It’s okay to give the perennials away, just be sure they aren’t invasive or aggressive. If they are invasive or aggressive, just dispose of them. You don’t want to pass a headache off to some unsuspecting gardener. If you aren’t familiar with invasive or aggressive perennials, read the post – 14 Plants Not to Grow In Your Gardens.
The best way to clear out all the weeds and undesirable plants, is simply to dig. I cover ways to convert lawn into gardening space, but when you’re dealing with an existing overgrown, unkempt flower bed, the best way to clean it out is to dig. It’s hard, sweaty work, but it will be worth it when your flower bed is complete. This lightweight shovel is very sturdy and sharp, and just happens to be my favorite shovel. Also, another tool I couldn’t do without is my CobraHead weeder. If one can love garden tools, I love these and both are my go to tools when I’m cleaning out an overgrown garden bed.
Just a word on invasive or aggressive perennials – make sure you’ve gotten all the roots out of your garden bed. You really don’t want noxious perennials, like invasive orange daylilies, growing back up in your beautiful new flower garden. The same goes with weeds, get them out root and all.
How to Keep Weeds Out of Your Cleaned Up Garden Bed
Now that the garden bed is all clean, the weeds and unwanted plants have been disposed of, it’s time to amend the soil. Fill the holes and add a layer (2-3 inches) of compost over the entire top of the garden bed. Next, rake and smooth out all the soil. You will be left with a blank slate of fresh dirt! Next go over the entire garden bed with Preen. Preen is a pre-emergent that will help to keep new weeds from sprouting.
If you get to this point and you have to stop for more than 3 or 4 days, even if you’ve treated the area with Preen, I recommend covering the entire flower bed with cardboard or black plastic. This is just extra insurance that you won’t get weeds growing in the area again.
I won’t go into designing or planting your new flower garden here, because I cover those topics in other posts, which I will share links to at the end of this article.
If you are interested in taking an extra step and you have the time, I highly recommend this course – Designing with Perennials for 3 Seasons of Blooms. The course teaches you how to plan and create a perennial flower garden that continuously blooms from spring through fall. Check it out when you finish up here.
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To help you with your garden planning, there are many flower lists (the best perennials, the best annuals, the best flowers for pollinators, etc.) charts and garden design graph paper, available in Gingham Gardens Resources Library. To gain immediate access, complete the form below and be on your way to creating a flower garden to be proud of.
Adding Finishing Touches to Your New Flower Garden
Be sure to clean up the edges of your flower bed. Use an edging tool, or a sharp shovel. To help with the edging maintenance, consider using an edging material. We use this pound in style edging and really like it. Many of our flower beds are edged with field stones, but I also like to have a clean edge between the lawn the the stones.
When you have your flower bed planted, you will need to add a thick layer (3 – 4 inches) of a good shredded, hardwood mulch. Mulch adds the finishing touch to your flower garden and makes the plants pop. Plus, mulch is weed control at it’s finest and it helps to hold much needed nutrients and moisture in your soil.
How to Clean Up Overgrown Flower Beds
As gardeners we get really excited when our gardens start filling in and looking the way we always imagined they would look; however, plants can go from looking mature to looking overgrown in just a few years. If this is how your flower garden is starting to look, here are a few pointers for you:
- First, tidy up your flower garden. Clean up the edges like I talk about above. Also, go over the garden and do a good job of pulling all the weeds.
- Divide your plants. I’ll say it again, divide your plants! Either give the divisions away, transplant them to a new place in your yard, or pot them up and sell them.
- Do you have perennials that just aren’t your favorites? Get rid of them and add in some new variety.
- Create a path that meanders through your garden.
- Dig out an area and add a garden room, a place to sit and enjoy your surroundings.
- Add in some landscape lights and other garden decor.
More Flower Garden Articles
I don’t want to leave you hanging now that you have your flower bed all cleaned up and looking beautiful. Take some time to do research to see what new plants you want to grow in your garden. Before you venture to a garden center, you’ll want to have a plan in mind. Here are some more articles on Gingham Gardens, that will help you plan, plant and maintain the flower garden of your dreams.
14 Perennials Not to Grow in Your Garden (Even if They are Free)
Tips for Transplanting Perennials
Flower Garden Maintenance
How to Deal With Weeds In Your Garden
Classic Perennials (That Every Flower Garden Needs)
Plant Shopping 101
11 Flower Gardening Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
I hope you’ve gained some inspiration and ideas to makeover your own flower garden. It is hard work, but so gratifying when you’re finished. As the years pass, your flower garden will fill in and just become more beautiful.
If you have questions, or comments, please feel free to complete the comment form at the end of the post. I love hearing from and helping my readers with their gardening questions.
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