Lawns are lovely, trees are terrific but flowers are fabulous. Every yard should have at least one flower bed to add color and fragrance to the landscape. Choosing the right flowers that will thrive in your yard can be confusing. Follow a few simple guidelines and both you and the flowers will be happy.
Know your hardiness zone and climate. Flowers, like other plants, have limits to how much heat and cold they can tolerate. Where you live influences what you can plant. Hardiness zones are geographic areas of the country based on how cold the winter temperatures reach and for how long. Wisconsin, for example, is zone 4, one of the colder areas. Palm Springs is zone 11. Flowers like roses can't live in zones colder than 4 because the roots freeze. Plants such as lilacs require a chilling period and won't thrive in temperate winter locations.
Locate the bed in the sun. If in doubt, plant where the flower receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Flowers such as astilbe, lady's mantle and helleborus require shade. Before choosing flowers, know how much sun and shade the area receives to select flowers that will do well.
Decide on the color scheme. Every shade in the rainbow appears in one flower or another, but that doesn't mean that your favorite flower will bloom in the colors you've chosen. Roses don't bloom in true blue. If your color scheme is blue, you'll have to choose something besides roses. Cosmos, zinnias and moss roses are other examples where the blue hue is missing. Delphiniums only bloom in blues and white. Larkspur blooms in white, pink, purple and blue, but not yellow.
Determine how much time you'll spend on maintenance. Plant perennials once and, with the right care, they will come back year after year. Most of them bloom for a short time during spring and summer. Annuals only live through one season but bloom prolifically throughout the season. Pruning, cutting back and dead-heading or removing spent blossoms are required for perennials. Annuals don't require pruning. How much time you want to spend in the garden influences your choice of flowers.
Come up with a budget. A limited budget means you'll have to rely on seeds for planting annuals and perennials. Annuals will put on a show for you the first year. Perennials won't bloom much at all the first year, sporadically in the second year, but take off in the third year. A more generous budget allows you to plant 1-gallon-size plants. In the case of perennials, you'll have flowers sooner.