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Beginner's Gardening Guide: How to Plant and Mulch Flowers

I love gardening, but I remember how tough it was when I first started. That's why I like sharing tips to help fledgling gardeners!

Beautiful flowers.

Beautiful flowers.

Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Flowers

Planting flowers can enhance the beauty of your lawn and provide a colorful landscape in your garden. But if you are new to planting flowers, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to begin, what flowers to plant, how often to water flowers, and how to maintain your garden. Luckily, you don't have to be an expert to plant flowers and embark on a gardening journey.

Where Do I Begin?

With a few simple goals in mind, a little motivation, and a little hard work, planting flowers can be a rewarding experience.

  1. Find a planting spot. First, select an area of your lawn or yard where you would like to plant flowers. Take a picture of the area (on your cell phone) and bring it with you when picking out flowers.
  2. Choose and buy flowers. Next, visit your favorite gardening center and purchase some flowers, keeping in mind their size, color, and how much sun the flowers need. Try to select colors that will compliment your home. In addition, you will need to estimate how many plants to purchase based on the size of the area where you will be planting.
  3. Get expert advice. Ask the gardening experts lots of questions while you are there, especially if you're not sure about which plants to purchase for the different areas of your garden around your house.

What Kind of Gardening Tools Do I Need?

In addition to purchasing flowers to plant, you'll need to purchase the following supplies:

  • Gloves (I would recommend a sturdy pair of mud gloves, rather than cloth gardening gloves, which are sturdy for planting and easy to wash)
  • Topsoil
  • Gardening shovel
  • Gardening rake
  • Gardening fork (especially for weeding)
  • Watering can

Optional Supplies

The following items are optional but recommended if you are weeding or would like to prevent weeds.

  • Weeding bucket (to collect weeds and debris)
  • Tarp and pins
  • pruning shears
  • Bags of mulch, in color and type of your choice (# of bags depends on the size of the area you are covering; I usually buy 8-10 bags to cover areas around the front of my house)
Preparing to plant flowers.

Preparing to plant flowers.

Weeding and Preparing the Ground/Soil

After purchasing your flowers and supplies, get excited and ready to do some planting! First, you need to do a little preparation. Is the area you want to plant flowers full of weeds or old mulch? If so, first clear the area where you will be planting of any weeds, and rake the area a bit to remove any old mulch and debris.

If necessary, line up your flower plants alongside where you are planning on planting them, so you can get an idea of how far apart to plant each one.

Laying tarp down before planting to prevent weeds.

Laying tarp down before planting to prevent weeds.

Laying Tarp Down to Prevent Weeds

If the area you will be planting the flowers in tends to be a high weed area, consider putting a tarp down to try to prevent weeds. Although this will not prevent all weeds, it will help to block weeds around your plants. If you're not laying tarp down, you can skip to the next step to start planting.

  • Unroll and cut pieces of tarp (rolls of tarp can be purchased from your gardening store).
  • Adhere the tarp to the ground by placing tarp pins along the corners of the tarp. Then, cut openings in the tarp (a little wider than the width of the plant), for each location where you plan on planting a flower plant.
Adhering gardening tarp down before planting.

Adhering gardening tarp down before planting.

  • Next, for each plant, dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the plant.
  • Loosen the plant and then remove it from the container you purchased it in, then place it in the hole, making sure that the base of the plant is level with the surrounding soil.
  • Add topsoil as needed and pack down the soil around the plant.
  • Repeat for each plant.
Planting flowers and adding top soil.

Planting flowers and adding top soil.

  • When you are finished planting all your flowers, remove any excess soil from on top of the tarp to prevent weed growth.
  • Next, add 1 to 2 inches of mulch around your plants.
  • Finally, water all your flowers thoroughly.
  • Continue watering your plants daily, or according to instructions based on the type of plant you purchased.
Multicolored Celosia flowers (this is how the flowers will look after mulching).

Multicolored Celosia flowers (this is how the flowers will look after mulching).

Suggested Annuals for Planting

Here are some suggestions for colorful annuals to plant:

  • Begonias (light: sun/part sun/shade)
  • Petunias (light: sun/part sun)
  • Pansies (light: sun/part sun)
  • African marigold (light: sun)
  • Impatiens (light: shade)
Pink and White Petunias.

Pink and White Petunias.

Good Resources With Alphabetical List of Annuals and Perennials

I found an excellent resource for descriptions and photos of annuals on the Better Homes and Gardens website alphabetic listing of annuals with pictures.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is it possible to mulch before you plant the flowers? What mulch is best for flower beds?

Answer: If you are planning on planting flowers soon, then it is probably best to plant the flowers first and then mulch; otherwise, it will be more difficult to dig in the mulch to get to the soil level in order to plant the flowers. If your garden bed has some mulch already, what you could do is select a particular area (or areas) to dig and plant flowers, but then you will need to add mulch back in those areas so that the soil is not exposed, which may cause weeds to grow. Be sure to add a nice, thick layer of mulch. Mulch helps to moderate the soil temperature as well as retain soil moisture, so this will help to promote the good health of your plants. Adding a layer of mulch also improves the appearance of your flower beds, and again, may suppress weed growth.

As far as the type of mulch, I usually use bagged mulch from the local garden store, (or Home Depot or Lowe's). A combination of compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings and/or straw are good options, as they break down quickly each season, and they add nutrients that plants take from the soil. Other alternatives: straw, salt hay, or weed-free hay. It also can be a matter of cost as well. For example, bags of mulch may be more expensive than having a pile of mulch delivered from a garden store; however, it may be easier to spread from the bag, so it is a matter of preference.

Question: When is the best time to plant your flower garden?

Answer: My favorite time to plant flowers is in the spring, but it really depends what type of flowers you are planting. When I wrote the article for this topic, I purchased plants and planted them in later spring. If you are planting flowers using bulbs, it's best to wait until there is no danger of frost, so late spring may be best, or even early summer.

If you're not sure whether to plant in spring or summer, go with early summer for your perennial plants.

If you live in an area where July and August get extremely hot, then it's best not to wait until then, otherwise you will have to do some extra watering to be sure the plants don't dry out from the hot sun.

© 2012 Amelia Griggs


Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on November 29, 2012:

Give it a try, Jmillis2006, and you may be surprised how easy planting can be. With a little elbow grease and some ready-to-grow plants, you can have a garden in no time. I just watered each day especially the first couple of weeks. I do better with outdoor plants, because with indoor plants I can never seem to get the right light and water. Good luck!

Jmillis2006 from North Carolina on November 28, 2012:

I may try the tips you have provided here, I really like the look of a nice garden but my green thumb seems to be the thumb of death to plants, as I can never keep them alive.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on November 19, 2012:

Hello mizjo,

That's great to hear! I'm sure your window garden looks beautiful. :-)

And thanks for voting this up.

Regards and Happy Planting,


mizjo from New York City, NY on November 19, 2012:

Lovely hub on my favorite subject, gardening. I used all your methods when I had a garden in upstate New York . Now I have a small window garden in my little city apartment and bugs aren't much of a problem. I'm going to link your hub to my hub about 'growing food'.

Thanks for the nice read. Voted UP.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on November 08, 2012:

Glad your flowers sprouted. :-). I think with trial and error, we can all make our lawns beautiful...happy planting!



Deya Writes on November 08, 2012:

I wish I would have read this before trying to plant my Mimosa Pudica. I planted the seeds way too deep and for a week and a half I wondered why nothing was sprouting. Thankfully I still have some little plants now, they managed to sprout. Voted up!

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 25, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, Jim and Laura. Glad you liked the hub and photos. :-) As far as gloves, over the years, I used to buy the cloth kind, and they wouldn't hold up, then a nice lady in the store told me that mud gloves are the way to go, and she was so right!

Jim and Laura from Chicago area on October 25, 2012:

Great information and beautiful photos on your Hub! I agree a sturdy pair of mud gloves is the way to go when planting & weeding.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 25, 2012:

Thanks, jessfutch. Glad that you found the gardening tips helpful. :-)

jessefutch from North Carolina on October 25, 2012:

We love garden in my house. There are some great tips here. Voted and shared.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

I'm happy to hear that you found this hub helpful, Stephanie. I appreciate your comments. I just love to write detailed instructions and with gardening, that was lots of room for details!

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, Dobson. I'm glad your found the hub helpful. :-). I think trial and error helps a lot to identify what works best.

Dobson from Virginia on October 24, 2012:

You present this information in a great step by step way that I am sure many gardeners will love to discover. You obviously have a good grasp of the best concepts to having great looking and low maintenance flower beds. Nice job!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on October 24, 2012:

Beautifully done and useful. You write a lot of pertinent information for novices and those with some experience. Thanks for sharing.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

It's worth it if you have an area that is very sunny and tends to get a lot of weeds. I also liked that method more so than using poison spray which will damage the grass. Glad you liked the hub. :-)

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

Thank you, Sinea Pies, and much appreciated. Tarping is more work, but that area gets so many weeds. The area where I planted the petunias doesn't get as many weeks, so not tarp was needed there...horray!

One thing about the petunias is that someone warned me that they tend to spread a bit over time, and that they did. Now that fall has arrived, I pulled the flowers out and will replant in the spring. I loved the petunias, but I want to try impatiens next year because I heard they stay closer to the ground.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

Thank you, Peggy W. I was happier with the way the petunias turned out. The Celosia flowers were also beautiful for the spring months, but the area where they were plants is extra sunny and the flowers got extra thirsty, and dried out faster.

As far as the tarp, it definitely helps, and lots of mulch too!

Pavlo Badovskyi from Kyiv, Ukraine on October 24, 2012:

Hi, we never tried to use tarping but I know that many people do it and your hub is a good example of it. I have to try it again.

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on October 24, 2012:

Your gardens are so beautiful. I have to admit, tarping seems like so much work but it's obvious here that it's worth it. This is a very good hub for anyone who wants to take their gardening seriously. Voted up and beautiful and shared! In fact, I am going to add a link to my hub about Mulch. It'll be a wonderful addition.

Amelia Griggs (author) from U.S. on October 24, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, carol7777. It takes a little work, but afterwards when you step back and admire the beauty of the flowers you planted, it is so well worth it!



Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 24, 2012:

Your beds look beautiful. I have never used a tarp but it would surely cut down on the weeding! I do mulch however and that really helps. Even if the weeds make it through the mulch, they are easier to pull. Up and useful votes and will share.

carol stanley from Arizona on October 24, 2012:

Now that I have perfect instructions...I just have to do it. We have terrible soil here and often talk about raised beds. Maybe we will wait until spring. I will bookmark this for that future date. Great hub and worthy UP.