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Old Fashioned Annual Border Design

Have you ever thought you would like to have an old fashioned annual border so you could have fresh cut flowers for your home or just something beautiful to look at from your kitchen window?

It couldn't get any easier than planning and planting your own. With a few pointers to follow, you can plan your own or download our design for free.

In Southern California where I live, there is a garden center that pioneered some of the most spectacular annual flower displays you will ever see. Rogers Gardens in Corona Del Mar CA, is an amazing place. at least check it out online, they are a great resource for gardeners.

An old fashioned annual border is about the easiest flower garden you can own. As always, with some planning ahead, you will reap huge rewards from a little planning, some elbow grease, and a small investment.

Our design is for a fairly small planter that wraps around the front of a split rail fence. Yours can be along a property line to give definition to the edge of your property.

It can be along your entry walkway, or it can be along the front of your home, you are only limited by your imagination and the environmental factors of the sites you consider.

Summer annual border with Marigolds, Petunias & Begonias

If you want to plan your own, you will want to take a few factors into consideration;

1. What sides will this planter been viewed from?

2. What colors do I want in the garden?

3. Is this a protected site or is it subject to prevailing winds?

4. How many hours of sun does this site receive?

The answers to these questions will help to decide what plants you will use. For the best viewing, you will want to put your tallest plants in the center or back of the planter. Then place the medium height plants and then use the lowest plants to border the planter.


Planning, as always, is #1

Annual border in summer

As with all of the garden design plans we talk about on this site, planning ahead is a key to success with the old fashioned annual border design. I stress that because if you learn anything from this site, I want it to be this simple fact: With plants, they will return your investment in planning ten-fold.

Don't try to short change this important step, you will regret it and it could cost you any and all of the steps you take from here on out. Regret is never a fun thing, and for me this has been a hard learned lesson.

I am a very impatient person and I always want to fast forward anything I do but I learned a long time ago, with plants this will not work so save yourself some grief and take the extra time to do it right. Okay, no more lecturing!

Choosing the right site is the first step, make sure you choose a site that will receive at least a half day of sunshine, in the afternoon as annuals are sun loving plants, if you have a site with a full days' sun, all the better.


The Incredible Buchart Gardens in Victoria B.C.

Second step is soil prep. You've no doubt heard this from me before. This is a big one! Some elbow grease and lots of digging and compost will pay off big when you see how the annuals respond to the wonderful planting bed you
have prepared.

Spread at least a 3"-4" layer of organic compost over the entire planter,  if you can spare more, all the better. Especially if this is unworked soil, it will take a few seasons to really work it into a nice, friable bed.

After spreading the mulch, you will want to apply some fertilizer. I like to use some triple super-phosphate as flowers use a lot of phosphorus. A balanced fertilizer would be good to use as well like 9-9-9 with iron if you can find it in your area. If not, then use a commercial mix blended for flower gardens.

I'll let you in a little secret here, go to your garden center or fertilizer supply and get a big bag of Gro-Power. Mix it into the soil with the rest of the amendments. This will have a big impact on the results you get from your old fashioned annual border. Make sure you add it each time you change out your flowers!

You will want to mix this into the soil thoroughly with either a hand cultivator if yours is a small area or for larger areas, use a power tiller and till the elements at least 6" down into the soil. If you can go 12" down, all the better. Rake the bed smooth, removing all rocks and clods as you go.

Water it all in well making sure the bed gets thoroughly soaked. Wait a day for the soil to dry just a little and you will be ready for planting.

Time to Plant YOUR Old Fashioned Annual Border!

Whether you use the Old Fashioned Annual Border plan we have for you here for a free download or if you design your own, the steps I use for planting are the same.

You will most likely buy your transplants from trays at the nursery, the plants should be small and just starting to set flower buds. Please resist the temptation to buy the biggest ones thinking you are getting a deal. They are actually no bargain as they will be root bound and have a hard time rooting into the soil once planted.

I like to take the plants out of the containers and lay them down on top of the planting bed before you plant them so you can get an idea of what the finished product will look like. This way you can deal with spacing issues and adjust the overall layout before you plant them.

When you are satisfied with the overall layout, you can start to install the transplants. You should be able to just dig a small hole with your hand if you did your soil prep, so just dig a small hole and gently separate the roots so they will have an easier time growing into their new environment.

Plant at the same depth as they were in the original container, do not plant them deeper nor higher. Make sure to gently firm the soil around the plant when you are done.

After you have completed planting your bed, water in the new transplants with a gentle spray of water until the top layer of soil is thoroughly saturated.


Marigolds, Lobelia & Alyssum, star performers of summer!

Care of your Old Fashioned Annual Border

You will notice your annual plants will grow pretty quickly, make sure they are moist, not wet, at all times. For the first 2-3 weeks while they are starting to grow their roots into the soil keeping the soil moist is critical.

Start a regular fertilization schedule after about 2 weeks. I like to use Miracle Grow at half strength every two weeks. All plants prefer fertilizer at regular intervals and will respond very well. This is one of my secrets to success with annuals.

I used to have people stop and ask if they could take photos of my annual gardens because they were so spectacular. I owe most of it to my fertilization program.


Using Our Old Fashioned Annual Border Design

Old Fashioned Annual Garden Design in summer

To use our Old Fashioned Annual Border design here, simply right click your mouse on the design and click on copy. Paste to your own computer and then print on your own printer or send to your local copy center to have them print it for you.

You can use it as is or use it as an example to design your own. There are no hard & fast rules for a good annual border except to place the taller plants in the back and the medium plants in the mid section of the planter and the low flowers
as a border in front.

You can design the border with a color theme such as hot colors or cool colors or you can go with a mixed color border, do it the way it will please you.

Annuals can be separated into two different categories, cool season and warm season. You will need to make sure you use one or the other when designing your border. Depending on where you live, and how often you want to change out your border, you will be able to change out your plants anywhere from 2-4 times a year.

If you decide to order the plant list we have available for each area we will list annuals for our border design that will thrive in the cool season and another list of warm season annuals. Both will be tailored to the area in which you live.

Let's Get Planting!

Now that you know everything you need to know about your annual bed, you can start to plan your own space. Use our design this time for practice, then design the next one yourself or continue to use our designs, we will be having a few you can choose from.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy yourself, there are few projects in the garden that will give you as much pleasure, so quickly as an annual bed.

If you follow the tips and ideas I have presented here for our Old Fashioned Annual Border, the result of many, many years of experience, you will very quickly have a beautiful  flower border that will be the talk of the neighborhood!

Good luck and Happy Gardening!

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