Outdoor + Garden
As you probably know by now, we spend most evenings + weekends working in the yard this time of year.  It’s not only therapeutic for us to end a long day getting our hands dirty, but it’s also so gratifying.  Sometimes instantly, other times throughout the season, or often times over the course of a few years.  Either way, there’s nothing like seeing your hard work pay off as your plants grow, bloom, and come back season after season.
When we were renovating @thelovelycottage, nearly two years ago, we had to take the yard down to nothing but the dirt.  It wasn’t great to begin with, so we didn’t worry about that part of it, but we knew it would be a lot of work to get it to where we wanted it after moving in.  But, we could see it.  We constantly walked around the yard with a notebook in hand, jotting down ideas and dreaming up plans.  J and I have always prided ourselves on doing what we know how to do ourselves.  It’s the things we don’t know how to do that we feel comfortable hiring out or asking for help on, but gardening + working in the yard has always been something we love to do together.  It’s taken countless weekends, endless trips to the nursery, quite the investment, a lot of patience, a few blisters, and a lot of sweat to get our front and back yard where it is today.  However, it brings us so much joy – and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters to us. 
It’s where we start each morning and typically, where we finish each day.  It’s where we gather our family + friends and love on them.  It’s where we play with our pups + chickens at the end of a long week.  It’s our happy place.  And that, my friends, is worth pouring into.
So, on that note, we wanted to share a few things we’ve learned about creating a beautiful flower bed with you, step by step.  When it comes to planting, a little extra work on the front end makes all the difference.  How the plant will bloom, grow, and flourish each year all depends on the work you put into cultivating it’s foundation from the get-go.  Such is life, right?
NO. 1 // PLAN
For starters, know exactly what you want and where you want it.  You don’t necessarily have to know what you’re going to plant to get the flower bed going, but you do want to make sure you’re making the most of your space.  Grab a can of washable spray paint and draw out the flower bed to get a good visual.  Also, know that it doesn’t all have to be done at once.  This is something we sometimes struggle with, but it’s okay for it to be a work in progress.  All the best things are, right?
Within those spray painted lines, clean it up.  Rake out any sticks or leaves and pull/spray any unwanted grass or weeds with Round Up.  This will help to make sure none of those weeds come back into your flower bed.  From there, make sure the base of your flower bed is as level as possible and clean any debris.  
Landscaping paper is one of those ‘more work on the front end’ things, but such a game changer.  Roll out the paper to fit the flower bed (cutting if necessary) and secure with landscaping staples.  (Due to roots or rocks, sometimes the staples can be hard to secure in the ground.  Using a mallet to ‘tap them in’ has proven to be really helpful for us!)  Although you’ve pulled and killed the weeds already, the paper helps prevent any new or existing weeds from growing into your flower bed.  Cutting and overlapping the paper in some areas is usually a given and perfectly normal.
Now that your flower bed is ready to plant in, lay out your plants where you want them so you can (once again) get a visual of the outcome.  Remember to plant based on growth and what type of sun the plant or flower needs.  Additionally, be sure you’re planting perennials if you want the plant to come back year after year.  Annuals are typically a one-season, blooming plant/flower – they’re beautiful, but we like to invest in things that we can enjoy season after season.  (The tag that comes on the plant should give you all information needed, or you can simply google the name for best practices/advice.)
NO. 5 // PLANT
Once you’re ready to plant, use a knife or box cutter to make a ‘X’ in the landscaping paper the size of the base of your plant.  This will help you know how large your hole needs to be.  Remove any excess landscaping paper that doesn’t need to be in the hole and start digging.  Different plants need different size holes and the tag on the plant should give you all of that information.  (As well as the expected growth and sun mentioned above.)
Before planting, mix a combination of soil conditioner and a little mushroom compost in with the dirt from your hole.  You don’t need equal parts, but depending on how much you’re planting, a few handfuls of each is usually sufficient.  Neither are a must for planting, but help the plant to create a root system within it’s new home and stay healthy.  Once you have that mixed up, lightly fill in the bottom of your hole with the mixture.  Before placing the plant in the hole, grab the base of the plant and gently pull out the root system to help them ‘grab on’ or adapt to the hole.  The base of the plant (full root system and dirt) should be ground level with the start of the stalk.  Fill the rest of the hole in with the same mixture as before and gently pack around the plant for sustainability.  Use a watering can to hydrate the plant shortly after planting.
Repeat STEP 5 until all of your plants are in the ground and keep them watered each morning for the next several weeks after planting.  We love to create a really cohesive look and typically plant multiples of the same type of plant in hopes to one day have a mature bed, full of one specific thing.  However, a lot of people love a wild, more natural flower bed and that’s perfectly okay, too!  The best thing about gardening is it looks different for everyone.  Always make your space, in or out, a reflection of what you love.  That’s what will ultimately bring you the most joy and turn the ‘chore’ of gardening and upkeep into truly loving it.
After planting, do a little research on best practices for caring for that specific plant.  Watering as needed, dead-heading when necessary, and knowing when and how-to fertilize is so important to making sure your plant will come back for years to come.
Any other questions?  Ask us below!  I hope this step-by-step guide was helpful and as always, thank you so much for stopping by! X.

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What shrubs would you recommend for someone in South Carolina that would serve as a border around the front of my house?


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