The Q&A Archives: Planning A Garden

Question: My husband & I have never planned a garden area before, and really don't know where to start. We have an area between our house and along a walkway. It measures about 16'x6'. I am mostly interested in perennials and vines, but am unsure which ones would complement each other in our situation. Could you please offer a couple of novice planters some advice? It will definately be appreciated.

Answer: A good rule of thumb when designing beds and borders is to put taller plants in the back and shorter ones in front. If the planting area is visible on all sides, you can put the taller plants in the center and surround them with lower-growers. While this seems elementary, you'd be surprised how many gardeners fail to take into consideration the mature size of the plants! Even more important is to chose plants that will thrive in the area, given the amount of direct sunlight they'll receive each day. If it's a shady bed and the soil is moist, plant vinca minor, hosta, astilbe, delphinium, viola, calla lily, ferns and bleeding heart. If it's a sunny bed, plant Kennilworth ivy, wisteria, bougainvillea, ice plant, trumpet vine, lily-of-the-Nile, daylily, peony, iris or phlox.

For even more ideas, and color pictures of many plants, consult Sunset Western Garden Book (ISBN# 0-376-03851-9 ). It's loaded with great design ideas!

Good luck with your new garden!

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