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How to transition your spring garden border to summer

Check out easy ways to freshen up your garden for the season without having to completely replant.

As spring flowers bloom and temperatures begin to rise, your garden may look a little tired, like a bouquet past its prime. Don’t be afraid. There’s no need to start over and replant a fresh garden border during the summer months. Evergreens, colorful foliage plants, and long-blooming perennials can help you create a seasonal garden.

Here are some planting and design tips to help you set up your garden borders to reduce seasonal work and ensure a smooth transition from spring to summer.

Plunk down all visible containers

One of the easiest ways to transition your borders from spring to summer is to pot them. Place summer flowers, such as Peruvian lilies, bearded beggar ticks, and million-bells, in containers directly into the border as a colorful focal point. At the end of summer, you can easily switch out the containers for a fall display while keeping plants permanently throughout your flower beds.For an abundant, low-maintenance solution, you can also choose a container that contains just the leaves, like the one shown here.

Cover exposed areas with garden art

Conversely, instead of using season-appropriate potting containers for color, cover any exposed areas of the border with garden art. Garden spheres work well, as do attractively shaped single empty garden containers. Alternatively, add a low container filled with water to provide a focal point and water source for visiting birds and insects.

Use planting bags

Divide a large border into several “pockets” by including a few evergreens for structure, a group of three to five perennials that will last for several seasons, bulbs for seasonal color, and small sections of annuals and other perennials. To reduce your workload, only change plants in pockets of seasonal color when your garden transitions from spring to summer.

Take a look at New York State’s Garden boundaries. At first glance, it looks like a pretty bed of tulips, but there’s a lot more going on in terms of design. The designer used a variety of evergreens, foliage plants, and perennials, and used only spring bulbs for fleeting seasonal color. Effectively, it’s planting it in your pocket.

Here we see the same garden in summer. Evergreen conifers stand on corners and poppies and purple coral bells remain at the edge of the path. In the spring, yellow irises emerge from the pockets where the tulips used to be, and the final section is filled with summer perennials that are just beginning to bud. This is a smart design that creates a dynamic border by reducing planting depending on the season.

Keep structure in mind

Evergreen plants not only fill space in your garden beds rather than planting them seasonally, they also provide consistency and structure throughout the year.

Want more colors? Try flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas, California lilac, mountain laurel, or
Texas ranger.
Whether you choose evergreen foliage or flowers, shrubs planted in flower beds add height, shape
and background to seasonal plants.

Choose long-blooming perennials

If you’re touring nurseries looking for plants to transition your garden from spring to summer, take a look at perennials. Compared to annuals plants that bloom for only one season and require replacement, perennials require much less work. Plus, when spring flowers start to look tired, many start blooming on their own, instantly refreshing your beds.

Lion’s ear and yarrow dominate the paths of this Buffalo NY USA garden.

For long-blooming perennials, include ‘Becky’ shasta daisy, ‘White Cloud’ calamint and ‘Rozanne cranesbill’. Note: This is a perennial plant in most climates, but not all.

Plant fresh flowers around the edges

The colors are eye-catching. Adding a few fresh summer flowers to the edges of your garden beds can help avoid any soil that didn’t bloom or plant last spring.

If you’re planting summer flowers at the end of your edible garden, choose varieties that attract pollinators, such as calendula, sweet alyssum or flowering thyme, or that can potentially deter pests, such as marigolds.

Bulbs planted with plants or flowers that bloom in the warm season

Since the bulbs bloom in the spring, yellowing leaves won’t necessarily improve the appearance of your garden border. If you want them to bloom again next spring, you should leave the leaves alone as the bulbs draw nutrients back from the leaves to the bulbs.

Plant something to help fill in and cover yellowing leaves. Forget-me-nots are a classic choice. That’s because both replenish their bulbs with an understory in mid-spring and reach their mature height (about 2 feet) in late spring to early summer, covering their yellowing leaves. Forget-me- not flowers usually don’t last beyond early summer, but the transition effect is attractive. Hostas are also an excellent choice for planting bulbs that will last until fall.

Caution: Woodland forget-me-not is considered invasive in some areas. Check where you live before planting.

Add ornamental grasses
Cool-season ornamental grasses or foothill sedges, such as ‘Elijah Blue’ blue fescue and ‘Karl
Foerster’ feather reed grass or foothill sedge can be a great way to transition your garden from
spring to summer.
Cool grasses sprout new shoots in the spring, but they really come into season in early summer,
just as the spring flowers start to look tired. Mix them with flowering annuals and perennials and
re-arrange them in the border according to their mature height.
Share: How do you transition your garden from spring to summer? Please let us know in the
comments.

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