Since we moved to our single wide trailer on the farm, I have no flower gardens to sink my hands into. So follow me as I walk the journey of how to design a cut flower garden from scratch. This will be a great gardening beginner’s guide as well as a gardening pro’s inspiration.
It’s the end of winter, those days in the Midwest where we can have 60 – 70 degree weeks that swing back to 20 – 30 degree cold snaps. It’s the time of year where I am just dying to plant flowers abundant enough for me to have fresh cut flowers in the house all summer long. Alas, if I planted anything right now, it would surely freeze sometime in the next two months.
We moved to our single wide mobile home on our farm in December. We’ve nicknamed the mobile home “Bertha,” and Bertha has no flowers around. Not.A.One. I was resigned to just focus on our farmhouse renovation this year and just forget about flowers of any kind. But then I thought, “Bertha.Needs.Flowers. I need flowers.” I may not be able to plant them for another couple months, but right now is the PERFECT TIME to design a simple cut flower garden for both Bertha’s and my sake. Here’s how I’m taking advantage of our random beautiful days and going from grass to flower garden in front of the house.
If you would like to see my planning process on paper, click HERE for a FREE WORKSHEET on How to Design a Cut Flower Garden from Scratch: A Guide for Beginners.
Plan the Location and Size of the New Cut Flower Garden
I am trying to keep my expectations realistic and keep it a small cut flower garden. This summer will be full of farmhouse renovation along with normal mom life. I want to create a flower garden that won’t be a weed jungle nightmare in 5 months.
I picked the area I wanted flowers and made a physical outline. Use a garden hose to outline your new flower garden from scratch or get bricks or rocks to mark the corners. Having a temporary but tangible outline of the flower bed helps me visualize the actual size of my new flower garden in front of the house.
Make Notes About Your New Flower Garden Design
- Does the new flower garden get mostly sun or mostly shade? Also, afternoon sun is hotter than morning sun, so make notes the time of day the sun is shining on it. (Don’t forget about tree around that will get leaves and add more shade to your new cut flower garden.)
- What gardening Zone are you in? Know your gardening Zone ensures that you plant flower that will actually, you know, live in your climate. Type in your zip code to find your gardening Zone HERE.
- What kind of flower garden do you want? Butterfly garden, cut flower garden, herb garden, partial vegetable garden or a mixture of all of those? (Yes, you can mix flowers and vegetables in a beautiful garden!)
- What are some needs you have from your new flower bed? Do you need to hide an ugly part of the house, add height to the front of your house, hide the garbage bin, bring in some hummingbirds or butterflies to enjoy?
- What do you already own that you can use in your garden? Do you have some limestone rocks that would work as a garden edging? What about a bench, birdbath, bird feeder or plant pots?
Draw the Design for your Cut Flower Garden on Graph Paper
This may seem like needless work, but putting planning in now for your new flower garden will save time and headache later. Besides, it’s a fun way to daydream about flowers on these cold, late winter nights.
- Measure the new flower garden bed you’ve already temporarily outlined. Draw the new garden on graph paper.
- Draw in the “hardscaping.” These are things like birdbaths, edging, pathway stones, trellises that you might use.
Make a List of Flowers for Your New Cut Flower Garden
- Plan 3 – 4 flower colors you want in your garden.
- Google “good cut flowers for Zone ___” or “good shade flowers for Zone ______.”
- Call your local botanical gardens or library for free gardening classes. Also, the local extension office can tell you what flowers grow well in your area. They have master gardener volunteers to give you free advice!
- Make a list of vines, shade flowers, sun flowers, cut flowers, butterfly garden flowers that you know (from your research) will grow in your Zone. Don’t forget about just adding green plants as the leaves can add a great aspect to your cut flower bouquet.
- Write next to the flower where you’re going to get them from. Are you going to grow from seed? Buy at a local nursery? Order online? If ordering online, you want to order in the mid – late winter to get the flowers when you need them. Most online nurseries will wait to ship your flowers when it’s a good time to plant in your zone.
- Search Facebook groups or Marketplace, your local library or county extension office for seed or plant swaps that are taking place. Bonus is that these will be plants you know grow well locally.
Add the Garden Edging to the New Flower Bed
- Are you going from grass to flower bed? If so, decide on a garden edging to keep the grass from creeping back in.
- Figure out the vintage style your home is (if you’re not sure of your style of vintage home décor, take my free quiz here!).
- Pick an edging that matches your décor style. Limestone rock is great for Rustic and Farmhouse style. Bricks, geometric concrete, metal edging is great for Mid Century and Modern. You can also use small logs (Rustic style), gravel, small edging fences. Right now might be a great time to find cheap edging sources on Facebook Marketplace as most people aren’t thinking garden supplies just yet.
- On one of those beautiful late winter days, get outside and put your edging in. It’s better to do it now before there are flowers in. I usually use limestone rocks or bricks. I’ll dig them down a little bit in the soil, but not much as I want to be able to easily lift them to pull out creeping grass later.
- If you’re using gravel or small rocks, you can put plastic or cardboard underneath the gravel to deter grass and weeds. I don’t recommend the cloth that is supposed to prevent weeds. It does not work that well in my experience.
Get Your Flower Garden Soil Ready
- If you’re going from grass to flower garden, you’re going to need a pointed shovel and just dig horizontally a couple inches under the grass. Then you can rake the grass out and throw away, careful to pull any stubborn pieces out that you find. I’m not going to lie, this part is NOT fun. But it is worth the time and effort now to keep as much grass and weeds out later.
- Find manure to mix in. Yes. You need manure. You can buy it at a garden center or big box store. Oooooooor, you can call a local stable near you and ask, “Excuse me, can I have some manure for my garden?” Yes, it can be awkward, but it’s free and oh-so-good for your flowering beauties. A couple things to keep in mind if getting manure from a farm:
- Cow is best, horse second, goat/sheep and then chicken. This is based on the nitrogen content.
- Don’t get “new” manure. Ask the farmer/rancher for old or aged manure at least 3 – 6 months old. New manure has high nitrogen and will end up burning your plants, something you don’t want.
- Hoe or rake up the soil then spread manure a couple inches thick and rake in. Your cut flowers will love you for it and reward you with gorgeous blooms.
- Add sand if you have thick clay soil (you can tell if the mud gums up on your shoe). This will help plants break through soil, for water to drain and for plants to thrive.
Now your new garden space is planned out, the soil is ready, the edging and hardscaped areas are set. In a few weeks, you will be able to get your seeds or plants and start that new cut flower garden growing! Just imagine the joy you will feel when walking outside to snip some beautiful cut flowers for your home or when you see the butterflies flitting about this summer.
And don’t forget to grab your free How to Design a Cut Flower Garden Worksheet here.
Read more posts about cut flower gardening here.
Save This Idea for Later.
Do you have favorite flowers you’ve tried in your cut flower garden? Comment below and tell me what has worked for you!