Perennial gardens are the backdrop of every homestead. These four tips will get you started planting different types of perennial gardens in all corners of your property.
Now that we’ve moved to our new homestead, I have been pondering where to plant my herbaceous perennials beds and herb garden. Because we live on a standard size (.22 acre) suburban lot, I need to be intentional about what I plant. My goal is to have every plant on the property have either nutritional or medicinal value.
Which means there is no room for fluff!
Perennials provide depth and character to your flower and herb gardens. When planted in combination with annuals, shrubs, and a tree or two, your mixed borders will look beautiful during all seasons and provide you with cutting flowers, herbs for culinary and medicinal uses, and even fruit for fresh eating and preserving. You really can have it all when you plant perennial gardens.
These are a few of the rules I’ll be following as I start planning the perennial gardens on my property.
Plant a Diversity of Plants in your Perennial Gardens
Try to use as many native choices as possible and plant a lot of different types of plants for your needs. You can reduce soil erosion with properly placed shrubs, trees, and cover plants. You can plant pollinators, water collectors, and beautiful flowering plants that help ward off pests and still bring beauty to your yard.
Plant diversity is essential to garden health. According to Global Issues:
- A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops
- Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms
- Healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play.
Grow Perennial Plants
It doesn’t make sense to have to keep replanting things over and over every single year four times a year. While there are some annuals that have value (calendula and basil) think instead about planting perennials strategically so that each year at the right time of year you have new plants without messing with the soil and digging all the time.
A good starter perennial garden could measure 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. This depth allows you to plant in layers and give the impression of a full, lush garden. You may need to strategically place stepping stone inside the bed to aid with harvesting and deadheading.
Some easy to grow perennial flower, fruit, and herb plants (that are useful for medicine or eating) include:
- anise hyssop
- bee balm
- all varieties of mint (but use them as an accent and contain them in pots)
- lemon balm
Get more ideas about edible flowers from the article 40+ Edible Flowers at PracticalSelf Reliance and from the Rockin W Homestead article Edible flowers for a Colorful and Flavorful Landscape.
Don’t Leave Your Garden Soil Naked
For your food and herb gardens, and any soil that you’re preparing, it’s imperative that you don’t leave your soil uncovered during the hot summer or cold winter months. You can cover it with natural mulch, compost, cover crops, or straw.
A great cover crop is legumes, which will add nutrients to the soil, keep down weed growth, prevent erosion, and stop diseases. The best cover crops to plant are those that are native to your area.
Think Maintenance Free
When you are planning your perennial gardens, try to think about the type of maintenance that you’re going to have to do to keep the garden going. Plant and design with that in mind so that you can work with nature instead of against it.
Before you actually plant your perennial garden, take time to draw it on paper and then acquire the actual plants. Following a plan will save money and time. As discussed above, when you give your newly planted garden a thick layer of mulch you will cut down on a lot of headaches centered around pulling weeds.
Take a look at the article Homesteads Should Plant Perennial Garden Too – from Capturing the Charmed Life.
Their article has 10 great tips for bringing perennials onto the homestead and for using them effectively. This is tip number four:
Don’t be afraid of using your favorite plants over and over and over. I like a swathe of lavender that creates a sea of color. Penstemon is lovely too, as seen in the above photograph, but the deer find it enticing so I won’t sprinkle it too far and wide. Assume you can plant multiples of the same plants but think planting in odd numbers like 3, 5, 7. Perfect symmetry looks too ‘perfect’ in a garden.
How do you decide what to perennial gardens to plant on your property? Does it just need to be beautiful, or is there more to your choice?