Perennials are plants that come back every year from top growth or from the root systems. Perennial plant usually have lower maintenance requirements than annual plants and don't need to be replanted every year. However, different perennials have different growing requirements. For example, some perennials grow best in a location with full sun exposure and other perennials thrive in part sun or shade. Also, different perennials have differing water requirements, so planting perennials close together with differing watering requirements can lead to problems. These are some of the things to keep in mind when you put in a perennial garden bed.
Contact your local county agricultural extension office for a list of perennials that grow well in your area. Also, the extension office can assist you with a soil test so you can find out what amendments and fertilizers you will need to add to your soil for perennial gardening success.
Establish the location for your new perennial garden bed. If you have chosen plants for shade, you need to mark off an area with shade. If you have chosen plants for sun, then the area must be exposed to the correct amount of sunlight. It is best if a perennial bed is accessible from two sides for maintenance such as weeding and spreading mulch. If the plants you have chosen require extra moisture, locate the bed near a water source.
Clear the planned perennial bed of all weeds and grasses. Digging the soil down to about 12 inches, pulverizing the soil, and removing all grasses and weeds helps loosen the soil so the root systems of the new plants grow easily and removes aggressive weeds.
Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost over the planting area along with the amendments suggested from the soil test you obtained with the help of your local county agricultural extension Office. Work these amendments into the top 12 inches of the soil with a hoe and shovel, then rake the area smooth.
Add any edging around the edge of the bed such as rock, brick or metal. Edging is attractive and keeps grasses and weeds from encroaching into the perennial bed. Add a 1-inch layer of mulch over the planting bed to conserve moisture and prevent new weeds from sprouting. The perennial bed is now ready for planting the perennials you have chosen.
Plant taller perennials in the back of the bed and shorter perennials in front if the bed is viewed from one side. If the bed is viewed from all sides, place the taller plants in the middle and the smaller plants around the edges.