Perennial plants are a gardener’s best friend. Plant once, and with minimal maintenance, they’ll last for years. Incorporating perennials around your lawn is a great way to take advantage of certain micro-climates within the landscape, reduce the amount of mowing you have to do, plus add pops of floral color across your yard. Use these tips for planting and growing ever-faithful perennials.
Every lawn has micro-climates which need to be identified prior to planting flowers or shrubs so the right plants can be selected. One section of the lawn may be in full sun all day, another section may be in full shade all day. There will be dry areas, damp areas, and areas where rainwater runs off. Observe and get to know where these micro-climates are so the right perennials can be planted in the right location.
Sun and Water Needs
After identifying the micro-climates, select perennials that have the same soil and water needs. Sections of lawn that are high, in direct sun, and dry out quickly after a rain need drought-tolerant perennials, like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, thrift, powder puff, butterfly bush or crepe myrtle.
Soggy areas or areas that receive rain runoff need perennials that tolerate growing in damp soil, like bee balm and blazing star. Shady areas are perfect habitats for hostas, hellebores or foamflower, which thrives when planted under shade trees.
There are always those areas in the lawn that are hard to identify and place in any one category. The section of lawn may be partly sunny, partly shady, sometimes damp, sometimes dry, plus have poor soil. There are hardy perennials that will thrive in those growing conditions, like daylily, geranium, butterfly weed, and any plant that is native to your region.
Feed the Soil
Prior to planting perennials, feed the soil so it can support plant growth. Dig up the soil and mix in two inches of compost, then replace the soil and plant the perennials. The compost will feed the plants and improve soil structure. Add a two-inch layer of organic mulch to prevent grass and weed growth around the perennials. The mulch will also decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Add fresh mulch in spring and again in summer after the perennials become established.
Mow the Lawn
While perennials along the edge of your yard reduce some of the mowing needs, you still need to maintain a tidy lawn to show off the plantings. Mow once a week or so during the growing season or use a robotic lawn mower to handle it for you.
Another benefit of incorporating perennials into your landscape is the wildlife the nectar-rich flowers will attract. A variety of birds and butterflies will provide entertainment throughout the spring and summer months as they land on the flowers to enjoy a meal.