Cottage garden full of flowers
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13 Tips to Help You Plant the Most Gorgeous Perennial Garden Possible

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Cottage garden full of flowers
Photo: Photos by R A Kearton / Moment / Getty Images

13 Tips to Help You Plant the Most Gorgeous Perennial Garden Possible

This article originally appeared on Angi and is syndicated by Cheapism.

Perennials are a gardener’s best friend: They return every year looking bigger and better than ever and, once established, can be very low-maintenance. When planning your perennial garden, keep these ideas and tips in mind to build the garden of your dreams—or at least one that will make your neighbors green with envy. 

Photo: Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

Pick a Star

Whether you have one perennial bed or 10, your garden plan should account for a true botanical showstopper. This might be an ornamental evergreen, a flowering tree, or a glorious hydrangea. Not every bed needs to have a showstopper, but you should give your garden at least one larger, established focal point. 

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Group Your Plants

When shopping for perennials, always consider buying more than one of the same plants to give that natural robustness to your perennial bed. For instance, instead of planting one beautiful fountain grass, plant three together in a group so they have enough room to grow and pack a bigger punch visually. 

Place groups of the same plant together, maybe around a showstopper shrub or tree, and you’ve got a master gardener formula for your own yard. 

Photo: © Frédéric Collin / Moment / Getty Images

Pay Attention to the Sun

One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make in their perennial beds is planting full-sun plants in partial shade, or partial-shade plants in full sun. 

Before you invest in a lot of new blooms, take some time to record your yard’s sun-shade ratio: Does your bed get morning sun only? All-day sunshine? The time of year, leaf coverage of nearby deciduous trees and your garden hardiness zone will all also affect the light patterns.

Herbaceous-border-Rudbeckia- flowers
Photo: Jacky Parker Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Arrange by Height

Because most homeowners purchase perennials early in the flowers’ lives, it’s hard to tell what they will look like in a year, two years, or even 10. An easy solution: Read those labels! 

Height variation can make a perennial bed genuinely fabulous, but not if the tall plants obscure the beauty of the smaller ones. Place taller plants toward the back or center of the beds and keep the shorties up front.

Photo: Jacky Parker Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Add Containers

Another fantastic way to add instant height to any garden is to include containers within a planted bed. Try adding one or two taller planters as focal points with something striking inside, like tall grasses and trailing plants. 

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Have Fun With Texture

Planting various plants with different textures gives your perennial garden a dynamic element—without even relying on blooms! 

Reedy grasses look great next to broad-leafed perennials; dark purple leaves are a striking contrast with silvery foliage. Play around and see what combos you love.

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Ensure Year-Round Color

If everything in your garden blooms at once, you’re left with a primarily green bed for the rest of the season, which is no fun. Planting flowers that vary blooms from early spring (daffodils, Narcissus) and summer (coneflowers, Echinacea) to late summer (dahlias) extends the beauty of your garden. 

And don’t forget plants that put on a fabulous show in the fall, like grasses that turn red (Prarie Fire red switchgrass, Panicum virgatum) and shrubs that show off their autumnal colors (Ninebark, Physocarpus).

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Photo: © Philippe LEJEANVRE / Moment / Getty Images

Plant Pollinator-Friendly Plants

Whether these are native plants or just big bloomers, planting flowers that attract butterflies and bees not only ensures more blooms but deters pesky insects that destroy your foliage. 

Some pro-pollinator plants include purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), bee balm (Monarda didyma), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Photo: Steve Terrill / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images

Add a Few Annuals

The secret to a perennial garden isn’t only relying on perennials: Well-placed annuals can add instant color and can help fill in the gaps while your perennials grow, helping to prevent overcrowding. This contributes to the overall health of your perennial garden. Just remember to pick annuals that have the exact light requirements as your perennial bed.

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Chances are, you inherited some existing plants with your home garden. Don’t be afraid to move, transplant, divide, and just completely change out plants if they don’t work. Take a walk around your neighborhood, too, to see what does well—just be sure to factor in light patterns when you do. 

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Use Your Pruners

Did you know that cutting back blooms encourages more to blossom? Taking the time to do light pruning and deadheading during the blooming season will help your flowers last longer. And proper perennial and shrub pruning in the fall results in more significant, healthier growth come spring. 

Photo: Annie Otzen / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Mulch and Fertilize

Those truly fantastic perennial gardens you see all likely have one thing in common: They are adequately fertilized and mulched. 

Mulching your bed in spring can help combat weeds and retain moisture, and mulching in fall can help insulate plants from harsh winter weather. Fertilizing at least once in early spring and again during the growing season ensures your plants get the nutrients they need.

Photo: Yulia Shaihudinova / Moment / Getty Images

Add Accents and Hardscaping

Perennial gardens aren’t just about plants. Having a few beautiful pieces in your garden, like a birdbath, sundial, or even statuary (garden gnome, anyone?), will lend your garden personality. Likewise, well-placed hardscaping, such as stone paths, lends an enchanted feel to any yard. 

And while you may be great at gardening, adding hardscaping is likely a different story. Ask a local landscaper for help adding some pathways or fountains to your garden.