Prepare New Rose Beds – Learn More About Starting Your Own Rose Garden

Prepare New Rose Beds – Learn More About Starting Your Own Rose Garden

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By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Have you been thinking about having a new rose bed? Well, fall is the time to set make plans and prepare the area for one or both. Fall is truly the perfect time of year to prepare the soil for a new rose bed.

Preparing Soil for Rose Bushes in Your Rose Bed

Things to do in fall

Dig up the soil in the proposed area with a shovel and go at least 18 inches (45.5 cm.) deep. Leave the big clods of dirt for a few days, letting them naturally break up and fall apart as much as they will. Usually, after about a week, you can move on with preparation for your new garden or rose bed for next year.

Acquire some bagged compost of choice, topsoil, play or landscaping sand (unless your soil is naturally sandy), clay buster soil amendment (if your soil is clayey like mine), and some good organic fertilizer of choice. If you have your own homemade compost, great. It will be really nice for this use. Add all of the amendments to the new area by sprinkling them over the top of the previously dug-up rose bed area. Once all of the amendments have been added, including the organic fertilizer, it is time to either grab the tiller or garden fork!

Using the tiller or garden fork, work the amendments into the soil well. This usually requires going back and forth and side to side of the proposed area. When the soil has been amended well, you will be able to see the difference in the soil texture and feel it. The soil will be something truly awesome to support your new plant growth.

Water the area well and let sit again for about a week. Stir the soil up lightly after that time and smooth out with a hard toothed rake, or if you have some fallen leaves to get rid of, dump some of those on this new garden or rose bed area and work them in with the garden fork or tiller. Water the area lightly and let sit for a few days to a week.

Things to do in winter

After a week, place some landscape fabric that allows good air-flow through it over the top of the entire area and pin it down, so as not to be displaced by the winds. This fabric helps keep weed seeds and such from blowing into the new area and planting themselves there.

The new rose bed area can now sit there and “activate” over the winter. If it is a dry winter, be sure to water the area once in a while to keep the soil moisture going. This helps all the amendments and soil keep working to become a truly awesome “soil home” for those new plants or rose bushes next year.

Things to do in spring

When it comes time to uncover the area for plantings to begin, carefully roll up the fabric starting at one end. Just grabbing it and pulling it off will undoubtedly dump all the weed seeds you did not want planting themselves in your new garden area right into the nice soil, something we really do not want to deal with!

Once the covering has been removed, re-work the soil with a garden fork to loosen them up nicely. I like to sprinkle just enough alfalfa meal over the top of the soil to make them have a light green coloring or tone to them, then work that into the soil while I am loosening it up. There are a lot of great nutrients in alfalfa meal that are great soil builders, as well as for the plant’s nutrition. The same is true of kelp meal, which can be added at this time as well. Water the area lightly and let sit again until actual planting begins.

One note on the play or landscaping sand — if your soil is naturally sandy, you will not need to use it. If you do need to use some, only use enough to help create good drainage through the soil. Adding too much can easily cause the same problems folks deal with when they have very sandy soil, that being retention of moisture in the soil. The moisture draining away too quickly does not allow the plants enough time to take up what they need along with the nutrients it carries. This being said, I recommend adding the sand slowly, if needed at all. Last but not least, enjoy your new garden or rose bed!

How to Select, Arrange, and Plant Flowers in a Planting Bed

The Spruce / David Beaulieu

The most important step to planting a new flower bed is to visualize the future. While your bed might not look like much when it's first planted, in a few months it will be much fuller, taller, and more colorful. The key is anticipating the heights, colors, textures, and mass of all the various plants.

The sample flower bed shown in this example consists of two rows of annuals and perennials in the front and a staggered row of taller plants (mainly shrubs) in the back. Even though everything is pretty much the same height when the bed is planted, eventually the background plants will greatly surpass everything else in size.

The strategy here is to create a backdrop of tall plants in the back of the flower bed, which creates a "canvas" for the rest of the arrangement. This is a technique known as "layering." In the context of planting flower beds, "layering" means you put the tallest flower bed plants in the back, the shortest in the front row, and the remaining plants in between. A nicely layered flower bed provides maximum visual appeal when all the plants mature.

While it's possible to start with a greater visual impact by selecting more mature shrubs, larger plants cost much more, and nurturing plants from a tender age (or from seed) is half the fun of flower gardening. The small shrubs in our sample bed are available at a very good price in most areas. In addition to the mature height, the plants were selected with the following considerations:

  • The flower bed is a very sunny location, calling for sun plants. Planning for a shady garden would obviously call for different choices.
  • It features some perennials, flowers including some perennials that bloom all summer. In general, anchoring a flower garden with perennials will help form the structure of the garden, and over time, they will fill in and gradually reduce the planting chores of filling in with annuals.
  • The plants offer interesting textures. Color is not the only consideration in planning a garden texture and shape should also be considered. Though we haven't used them here, small shrubs can be an excellent way to introduce textures into a planting bed
  • The color scheme is blue-purple-gold, which are complementary colors. Other complementary pairs are red and green, and yellow and violet. Other ways of planning color would be to use harmonious colors—those adjacent to one another on the color wheel—or a monochromatic scheme, in which all colors are subtle variations of the same color.

What You Need

To get started with an herb garden you need a few basics.

Regardless of whether you opt to plant indoors or outdoors, you’ll need a good quality soil mix, and you’ll need a spot to plant. That can be a plot of land, a raised bed, or containers. The choice is up to you, but don’t forget to check out the common mistakes section below for some guidelines on how to choose the best growing container for your plants.

Most herbs prefer traditional garden soil, but there are a few Mediterranean plants that need a well-drained, sandy soil. These include bay, rosemary, and lavender. Make sure to check and see what your plants prefer and group those together. For instance, you could add a bit of sand to garden soil in one section of your garden for dry-loving plants. In another area, you can create a loamier mix for those that need more moisture.

Location, Location, Location

Most herbs adore sunshine, so pick a spot that gets a generous amount of sun daily. At least 6 hours of sunlight is essential for healthy growth. The ideal location may differ according to the specific herb, however.

Some herbs like it hot and others prefer a bit of shade. You can check a seed packet, an online plant database, or the sticker on the pot (if you purchased your plant from a nursery) for information that can help you pick the perfect spot.

With a little planning, you can pair tall plants that like to soak up the sun with short plants that prefer a little shade. For instance, a giant parsley plant can provide shade for low-growing sweet woodruff.

Something important to consider when picking a location is how close it is to your home. Are you going to brave a rainstorm to get a few snips of chives for your morning scramble? Do you mind trekking to the far edge of your yard for a basil leaf when dinnertime beckons?

Some folks won’t mind a bit, but others might prefer to have their herb garden close to home. Whatever you do, make sure it’s accessible enough that you can keep a close eye on it and can continually harvest an endless supply of yummy spices and medicines.

Rose Garden Design

Savor the beauty of one of the most beloved flowers: the rose. Discover practical tips for designing a rose garden.

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Always dreamed of growing roses? Make those dreams a reality by learning basic concepts of rose garden design. Roses look good in many types of gardens, and whether you plant them solo or blended with other perennials or shrubs, you can grow these renowned beauties in your own yard. The secret to successful rose garden design starts with giving these bloomers what they need.

Sunlight is vital for roses—these are sun-worshiping flowers. You’ll get the most blooms when you site your rose garden design in full sun. Morning sun is always better than afternoon sun, especially in more southern regions, where afternoon sun can be especially brutal. Most roses yield the best flowers when plants receive six to eight hours of sun each day.

A Cape Cod Rose Garden

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Choose the roses you plant carefully. Many modern rose introductions boast repeat blooming, flowering non-stop the entire growing season. If you crave the lush, fully petaled fragrance of a classic rose, you might want to plant old-fashioned roses, many of which flower just once a year. If you opt for Hybrid Tea roses, expect repeat beautiful blooms from plants that need pampering. Research the roses you’re planting so you know the types of flower show you can expect.

Roses benefit from ample elbow room. As you craft your rose garden design, don’t jam roses on top of one another or between tightly spaced perennials. Many roses are subject to diseases, which spread easily when plants don’t have sufficient air circulation.

In your rose garden design, give each rose a space as wide as the plant’s mature height. For example, if a rose tag says the plant will reach four to five feet, give it 2 to 2.5 feet clearance on all sides. You’ll also appreciate this liberal spacing when you need to prune your roses.

Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are another key in keeping rose diseases at bay. Many rose diseases attack leaves and spread by splashing water. Limit overhead watering by incorporating root zone irrigation in your rose garden design. If you’re designing a brand new planting area, using root zone watering is one of the most important steps you can take toward improving rose health.

Decide if you want to create a garden devoted solely to roses or if you want to intermingle roses with other garden plants. For a solo rose garden, you’ll likely want formal planting beds to showcase different varieties and types. Many roses have knobby “knees” or lower stems. In a formal rose garden, hide these stems with a neatly trimmed boxwood or germander hedge.


SOPHIE THOMSON: Roses are among the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The right rose in the right spot can produce beautiful, fragrant flowers for eight or nine months of the year.

Despite the dry weather conditions and water restrictions, many gardeners are saying that their roses have performed better than ever.

So, it's time to start a rose garden, but where do you start? With 150 naturally occurring species and thousands of hybrids, you're spoiled for choice.

This is the rose bed that I'm going to plant. It's in full sun in summer, but being on the south side of the house, it's not quite full sun in spring or autumn, so I need to choose tough, hardy roses. At the back I'm going to have some taller roses to about 1.2 metres. It's a variety called 'McLeod's Daughters' that's got really thick, healthy, disease resistant foliage and that's often an indication that they'll tolerate some shade.

In the middle, I'm going to have lower roses called 'Australia Fair.' They only get to 75 centimetres high and both of these varieties are floribundas, so they're going to flower and look great all the time. And then at the front I'm going to finish off with some under-planting to give colour and interest all year round.

Now I have already dug it over, but I do need to add compost. When you buy roses at this time of year, you've got a choice. You can either buy them with established root systems in pots like these ones here or you can buy them bare-rooted. These are new season's stock and they're usually a bit cheaper.

When they're bare-rooted, they're actually stored in a plastic bag with something to keep their roots moist - in this case, it's actually sawdust. We need to discard that. You can add it to your compost if you want. Simply soak the roots in a bucket of water for about an hour or so. It's also worthwhile putting a splash of a seaweed-based plant tonic in there. That'll just help them overcome any transplant shock. And now we're ready to plant.

When you plant a bare-rooted rose, you always need to check the roots to make sure there's nothing damaged that you need to cut off. Then, you simply put a bit of soil back in the hole and make a bit of a mound and then spread the roots out this and backfill making sure that the final soil level is at the same place that it used to be when this plant was originally grown in the paddock. And the last step is to cut them back by half.

Now this is my favourite plant for under-planting roses. It's Nepeta 'Walker's Blue' and it basically flowers from spring till autumn - beautiful grey foliage and purple-blue flowers. But at this time of year, the old foliage is looking really scrappy, so we cut it back hard, the new foliage will take off - by springtime it'll be up, flowering and looking stunning.

As always, soil preparation is paramount as is choosing the right roses for the right position. By springtime, this bed is going to look spectacular.

How To Grow Your Own Roses

Roses have a reputation for being fickle, but growing these flowers doesn't have to be an arduous affair. Here are a few smart tips that will have your roses in bloom soon.

Everything you need to know about growing a gorgeous rose garden, from choosing the right location to battling pesky bugs.

Start by deciding where to plant your roses. You'll want a place that receives ample direct sunlight. "Roses do best in full sun," veteran gardener Melinda Myers says. "Morning sun is the second best option if you don't have a place that receives sun all day."

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then plant the flowers along the east or south side of the house or lawn to get that morning sun.

*Don't plant the garden in low spots in the lawn where water pools. Standing water can lead to disease, fungi, and root rot.

You'll find a lot of advice about adding lime or other ingredients to your soil to improve growing conditions, but some of these treatments can affect the pH of the soil and lead to problems, too. "Lime should only be used to improve acidic soil. Always take a soil test first to avoid creating problems that can take years to repair," Myers warns. "The same goes with sulfur. Sulfur can help lower pH in alkaline soils, but too much can harm your plants."

Myers advises gardeners to have their soil tested before planting roses. Test kits are available at home and garden centers for about $16, but you'll get more accurate results using a kit and getting the results from your local agriculture extension center. Find your local extension here. The downside is that you'll have to wait a few weeks for the results, so test the soil ASAP, or as soon as the ground thaws.

Besides any lime or sulfur, you'll also want to add about 2 inches of peat moss or compost to your garden soil. "Dig down at least 12 inches, which is the depth where the feeder roots are going to be," Myers says. "If you dig two shovel spades deep to turn over the soil and mix in the peat moss, that's about 12 inches, which is better for the plant than going shallower."

Be sure to amend the entire garden bed and not just the holes where you'll be planting the roses. So dig up and add peat moss to the whole garden. Otherwise, you create an in-ground container that can limit root growth and drainage. The peat moss will improve drainage in clay soils and help retain moisture in sandy soils, Myers says, providing a solid foundation for the plants.

Different parts of the country are divided into hardiness zones to ID the plants that are most likely to flourish there. The zones are based on average annual winter temperatures. Local home and garden centers can tell you which roses are most likely to do well in your area.

Myers also recommends selecting types of roses that are low maintenance, hardy, and resistant to disease—home and garden centers can advise you on this. Even novice gardeners or those who have struggled to grow roses in the past can have success with these roses. "There are lots of good roses for whatever level of work you want to put into them," Myers says. "The good news is growing roses doesn't have to be a lot of work."

Bare root roses, which are shipped and sold without being planted in soil, should be soaked in a bucket of water before they're planted. "Soak them overnight or for a day to hydrate the roses and start them taking up moisture," Myers says. Bare root roses are usually cheaper to purchase than potted roses, which come in a container with soil and are ready to be planted as soon as they're sold.

Dig a hole for the rose that's slightly larger than the root size. For bare root roses, place the plant in the ground and gently backfill soil around it. For potted roses, carefully cut away the pot and slide out the plant. These plants are often potted in late winter and sold in the spring, so the root system is limited. "If the plant was grown in a container not recently potted, the root system is probably well established," Myers says. "Carefully tease apart and loosen any girdling or tangled roots."

Myers says there are no hard-and-fast rules for how much water to give or how often to water your roses. Watering depends on your soil conditions. For soils such as clay, that could require turning on the hose just once a week. If the soil is dry 4 to 6 inches under the surface, then it needs watering, Myers says. "The top of the soil dries out very quickly, so you have to see what's going on deeper." Keep the ground moist, but not soaking wet.

"Don't just water the plant water all around the area so the roots will branch out," Myers says. "At first, check the soil every day, then every other day. You should get to the point where you soak the plants once a week, or if it's hot and dry, twice a week. Your goal is to have more drought tolerant roots, so train the roots to go deep into the ground for water."

Myers likes to use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to "feed" the roses it should be applied in the spring. "If you have a hot, dry summer, you're not going to burn your plants with this fertilizer," she says. (Heavy applications of some fertilizers, or not enough water before and after fertilizing, can "burn" plants, causing the leaves to turn yellow or brown or to wilt.) Roses that are flourishing in the middle of the summer don't need another fertilizer application, Myers notes. "Let the plant, not the fertilizer bag, dictate when to fertilize. Avoid late-season fertilization that can be winter-killed." In other words, the fertilizer will stop being effective when cold winter conditions set in.

Be prepared fight Japanese beetles. "They love roses. They eat and mate on roses in broad daylight," Myers says. There are several ways to deal with them: the most eco-friendly method involves knocking the critters off the leaves into a bucket of soapy water. Or use an insecticide that is less toxic to bees. Soil systemics, insecticides applied to the soil, should be used three to four weeks before the beetles show up, which typically means an application in late May. "If you do it early, it won't hurt anything," Myers notes. "If it's late, you'll miss the window of opportunity and need to use a foliar applied insecticide."

A layer of mulch a couple of inches thick helps to retain moisture in the soil and gives the garden an attractive look. Myers says materials such as shredded leaves or evergreen needles are a good fit for a rose garden. "The needles, if they're available, make a pretty mulch," she says.

If organic material isn't available, traditional wood mulch works fine. Regardless of the material you use, avoid burying the plant under the mulch and give the stems an inch or so of breathing room. "The stems are designed to be above the ground, not covered by mulch."

For the first year after planting, and probably the first two years, avoid pruning the roses. "The more leaf and stem growth you have, the more energy you keep in the plant," Myers says. Don't follow the old adage of trimming back the rose by one-third every year, at least not right away. The exceptions are damaged branches that have been broken or are rubbing against the house, or long wayward branches. Clip these back.

Watch the video: How to grow Roses. Grow at Home. Royal Horticultural Society