The varieties of plants to choose for planting can be endless. For a novice gardener, choosing plants to buy (or grow) can be overwhelming. Even for an experienced gardener, determining varieties and types of plants can be daunting.

Here are some ways to keep it simple and still brighten up and showcase your yard.

Garden [Yard] Size
Do you have a small yard, or even no yard at all? Container gardens may be the choice for you. Flowers, vegetables and even dwarf trees can be planted in containers for your deck, balcony or patio. Larger yards could handle both containers, annuals, perennials, bushes and trees.

Check out our FREE GARDEN LAYOUT print out here.


Do you love getting your hands in the dirt? Or would you prefer nice looking plants that don’t require much work? There are plants and garden plans for each style. Be sure to know what you like. Just remember, there is no such thing as a no maintenance yard (unless you hire yard work or pay an HOA fee for someone do it for you). Some yards are low maintenance and can give you a chance to play a little in the dirt, but require smaller amounts of time.

In addition to time requirements, your physical ability should be considered. How much work are you physically capable of handling? If bending or kneeling is difficult for you, consider container gardening or raised bed gardening. Do whatever makes the gardening experience enjoyable and physically possible.

No matter what type of garden you choose, be sure to use plants hardy for your climate zone. A climate zone indicates which plants can survive in the weather (either cold or warm) for your area.

You may have a preference for certain colors in flowers and plants. I feel like I gravitate toward reds, yellows and oranges. But then I chuckled a little when looking at photos of my garden. I noticed many of my perennials are pinks and purples. I guess I like them all!

Some gardeners prefer a particular color palette, and some do not. Creating certain color combinations (pinks and purples, yellow and blue) can enhance the look of the garden. A color wheel can help you choose pleasing color combinations. Colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel look terrific together in the garden.

Annuals vs. Perennials
Annual plants plants complete their growing cycle in one season. Using annuals generally means each year you will be buying new plants to replace the old ones. Why go through the expense then? Annuals provide virtually instant and constant color throughout the growing season.

Annuals can be planted in containers, boxes and in beds. We use many annuals each year for numerous containers we put together for the front step and deck. Planning an “annual” trek to the local garden nursery is always fun.

Some new varieties this year include Choca Mocha cosmos. This flower has a deep burgundy to chocolate color flower. Because I enjoy cosmos, this new variety is a real treat. Cosmos are tough, but delicate plants with the ability to reseed producing new plants from old. Rabbits like cosmos too, so you have to protect the young plants until they become established.

Other favorite container garden favorites are snapdragons, dahlias, calibrachoa (million bells), celosia, coleus, salvia, gazania and verbena. Geraniums and sweet potato vines are also popular.


Perennials are plants that survive from year to year and do not have to be replanted. Some prefer perennials for flower beds. Seeing favorite plants come back year after year is a treat.

When planting perennials, be mindful of the amount of sunlight required for each variety. Some like full sun, some shade, while others can tolerate both. This information can be found on the tag that comes with the plants from the nursery (or online).

Be sure to consider when the flowers will blossom. Unlike annuals, perennials may not blossom all summer. If you are careful, you can choose plants that blossom at various times of the season and have plants blooming all the time. The tag that comes with the plant has this information.

Depending on the type of perennial you have, it may require more maintenance than different varieties. For instance, some perennials like irises and lilies need to be divided every few years to keep producing flowers. Overcrowded plants may not give you the colorful garden you are looking for. The upside to this, is that you will have more plants for your garden, to share and swap with your friends and neighbors. Some plants may need pruning or simple deadheading. This leads us back to point number 2. How much maintenance are you willing to provide?

You may have also noticed some plants are biennials. A common example of a biennial is the hollyhock. These beautiful flowers complete their growing cycle in two seasons, generally blooming in their second year.

Each yard has its own variety of micro-climates. What this means is, a plant that may not thrive in one part of your yard, may do very well in another. Roses are a good example. Some roses grow very well with morning sun and afternoon shade. The same variety of rose in another part of the yard with more sun, can have trouble thriving. Don’t be afraid to move plants around if need be.

All of these factors should be considered for a successful gardening experience. Gardening can be therapeutic and rewarding in many ways. Just be sure that you have chosen the right type of plants and planting location that will make your garden hobby an enjoyable one.



Colleen is a retired teacher, mother, and Grandmother. She loves gardening, crafting, and baking. She spends her time sewing, in the garden or with her family.