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Design Tips for Perennials

Design Tips for Perennials

Perennials are the workhorses of the garden. Year after year, they provide dependable bloom and foliage and a lot of bang for their buck.

While annuals live their entire lifecycle in just one year, perennials live two or more years. Some, such as roses, can live for decades. Planning a perennial garden presents certain challenges. Before you get out the shovel, consider the following:

Size matters.

Plan for the size of the plants at maturity. While a one-gallon shrub may look great in a certain spot, it may crowd out the surrounding plants when it's fully grown and block the sun from others. Leave enough room for plants to grow their fullest.


Plant in multiples.

Grouping several of the same plant together creates greater impact and a more powerful punch of colour.


Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Using the same plant over and over again gives the garden a cohesive look and ties together different planting areas.


Plan for all seasons.

While woody perennials, such as roses, are present all year, herbaceous perennials die back completely at the end of their blooming season, leaving only the living roots, bulb or tuber to sprout new growth the next year. Plan for those bare spots in the off-season garden by mixing woody and herbaceous perennials and choosing plants that have multiple seasons of interest.


Annuals still have a place in a perennial garden.

While perennials may serve as the basic skeleton of the garden, you can use annuals to fill in and flesh out bare spots. By choosing self-seeding annuals like cosmos or poppies, you can plant once and enjoy the effects year after year.


If it's not happy, move it.

While the idea of a perennial garden is to plant once and let it grow, sometimes it takes more than one attempt to find the right place for each plant. If it's not thriving where it is, don't be afraid to dig it up and relocate it.