There are many options available when landscaping with roses, depending on the time you have to spend in the garden. Species roses and some shrub roses require less attention than Old European garden roses and modern hybrid roses. Rose breeders develop new varieties of roses every year, so the selection is quite extensive. There are rose plants that make good ground covers, some that ramble over garden walls and some that climb on fences.
Decide where you would like to landscape with roses. The best area to plant roses is one with good air circulation that receives about six hours of sun during the first part of the day. The area should be well-drained because the roots of rose plants cannot sit in waterlogged soil for long periods of time. Measure the amount of space you have available for your rose plants with a tape measure. Also, measure the height you would like the roses to be once they are full grown. For example, you might have a trellis or fence you would like to cover with a climbing rose bush.
Draw the area from an aerial perspective, using a pencil and paper, indicating the areas you would like to cover with rose bushes. Don't forget to draw in the permanent structures. Make the drawing to scale so you can choose roses that grow to the right size of your chosen area.
Choose roses based on the size of the area you have designed and colors you like. Some rose bushes grow thick and large; others grow tall and spindly and must be supported. Contact your local county agricultural extension office for suggestions on what roses grow best in your area. Your county extension office also has information on planting roses and rose care for your area. You can also choose rose bushes based on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.
Prepare to plant your roses in the early spring or as soon as the ground can be worked. Clear the area of all weeds, grasses and other garden debris. Loosen or pulverize the soil to a depth of 12 inches.
Spread a 3-inch layer of compost over the planting area and work the compost into the top 6 inches of soil. Roses grow best when organic matter is added to the soil. Then rake the area smooth.
Plant the roses at the same depth they are planted in the containers. If you are planting bare root roses, plant at the soil line evident at the base of the rose bushes above the roots. Allow the roots to spread out while you are planting and add water when adding soil to the planting hole to ensure there are no air pockets left around the roots.
Cover the ground around and between the rose bushes with a 2-inch layer of mulch. Mulch keeps the soil moist and cool, prevents water from splashing on the leaves and blooms and helps control weeds.
Keep the soil where the roses are planted moist, but not wet. Never spray water over the leaves and flowers of rose bushes. Wet foliage and flowers cause mildew and other disease problems.
Prune out dead limbs, foliage and faded blooms as needed to keep plants healthy and productive.