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Tips for Growing Annuals and Biennials

Annuals and Biennials Garden Design Ideas
Gardens don't have to be rectangular -- use your imagination to come up with a creative pattern or design. The following garden design ideas involving annuals and biennials will help ignite your creativity.

  • Re-create a favorite pattern from a family crest, piece of fabric, or needlepoint with annuals in your flower garden. You've seen similar patterns at amusement parks and public parks. Why not do the same with a pattern that is meaningful to you?
  • Use pale sand to outline the plant groupings before planting when laying out annual beds. This is like making a pencil sketch of a painting before stroking on the oil paints. Whether you're planning to put blue ageratum in edging rows, make a teardrop of red zinnias, or create a sweeping mass of pink impatiens, you can adjust and fine-tune the overall shapes before filling them in with colorful flowers. After making the sand outlines, stand back and look at the results objectively. If you don't like the first attempt, cover the sand with soil and try again.

row of flowers
Use creativity when planting annuals and biennials.

  • Plant staggered rows of annuals to create a fuller look. A single marching line of annuals such as French marigolds set side by side can look weak in a bigger garden. You can beef up their impact by planting a second row behind the first, with the rear plants centered on the openings between the front-row plants.
  • Staggered rows are also nice for showcasing taller annuals, such as blue salvia or snapdragons, set in the rear of a garden. A double row of spider flowers can become so full and bushy it resembles a flowering hedge.
  • Create the most excitement from your shade garden by choosing flowers with white, pastel, or brightly colored blossoms. Dark burgundy leaves and cool blue or purple flowers won't shine the way brighter blooms do from shady garden depths.

Fragrant Annuals
Why not plant some perfumed flowers under an open window or beside the patio? Here are some good choices:

  • Take a yardstick with you when you go to plant. Measure the distance between each plant in a row and between rows rather than simply eyeballing it.
  • Use a spacing aid to plant annual displays and cutting gardens in even rows. Even the most beautifully grown annuals can be distracting if they are spaced erratically. Fortunately, spacing is one element you can easily control. Here are some options: Make a planting grid by stapling a large piece of wire mesh over a wooden frame. If the mesh openings are 2 inches square and you want to plant ageratums 6 inches apart, you can put one seedling in every third hole. Or, make a spacing rope. Tie knots in the rope to mark specific measurements, for instance, noting every 4 or 6 inches. You can stretch the rope between two stakes to make even measurements along a straight line.

In the next section, we'll give you some great tips for gardening with annuals and biennials.

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.