Planning a Garden for Seasonal Interest

Garden design that stands the test of time requires thoughtful preparation. Start with evergreen shrubs and hedging as an anchoring foundation, adding perennial flowers with bloom times throughout the year as vibrant highlights.

Add spring-blooming bulbs, ephemeral plants, summer stars and autumn treasures, foliage-focused perennials, ornamental grasses, and winter-blooming holly for added visual interest.


A well-planned garden can offer us a journey through all four seasons of beauty. From spring flowers and lush summer lawns to the colours of fall foliage and charming winter berries, it can serve as a reminder of nature’s timeless cycle and how connected we are.

For year-round beauty in your garden, you must understand which plants thrive best in your climate and environment. Knowing if you get sun or shade in your yard and whether or not the soil is sandy loam or clay are also crucial factors to consider before choosing which types of plantings to incorporate and when. With this knowledge, it will be easier to select plants with optimal performance that thrive on your property and climate.

As you observe your perennial blooming this spring, make a list of those that thrive and those that require additional care. Consider factors like sunlight/shade exposure and whether they prefer being planted alone or together for planning purposes as the growing season comes along. Your notes will serve you well when setting goals for this growing season!

Once you know where you want to be and the current state of your property, the next step should be identifying areas needing additional colour and shade. Once identified, take a walk around your property to identify spots where additional plantings could add visual appeal and colour – this may involve ground cover plantings, installing trellises or pergolas for seating, or filling any uncovered spaces with low maintenance annuals.

Think carefully about pest issues you’ve noticed in your landscape and consider ways to stop them from ruining its beauty this year. For instance, leek moths may need protection with row covers or insect netting when planting alliums such as garlic, onions or chives. At the same time, if aphids are an issue, then try planting nasturtiums as trap crops to lure them away from other plantings.


Gardeners understand the difficulty of creating beautiful flower and vegetable gardens takes more than one growing season to realize its full potential, so planning is vitally important to making the most of each four-season garden experience. While planning can take some time if there are many plants to account for, the time spent planning is well worth your while and effectively ensures you don’t overplant something or underplant another type.

A practical starting point is taking an inventory of what has already been planted in your gardens, taking note of their bloom times, and recording this data in a journal, spreadsheet or another organizational tool. This will enable you to visualize better where gaps in colour exist throughout the year and give insight into what works and doesn’t work within your garden space.

Add hardy annuals and perennials with vibrant colours to keep your gardens blooming throughout the summer. Zinnias and snapdragons could add flair, while fragrant flowers such as beebalm can attract bees and butterflies in sunny spots of your yard – some even can be replanted from seed each spring!

Your garden will come alive with colour by planting different kinds of shrubs and trees that offer vibrant foliage and blooms, such as native dogwoods (Zones 3 to 8) that provide spring blossoms as well as fall colour in their foliage or classic flowering shrubs like Rhododendrons (Zones 4 to 9), which have long blooming periods but feature varied hues.

Making a year-round garden is more than selecting the appropriate plants; it also requires understanding their care needs regarding climate and soil conditions. Be mindful when watering, sun exposure and trimming. Awareness when feeding each plant will keep them healthy and robust, even if you’re gardening in extreme heat or cold.


Frost-tender plants like leafy greens and root vegetables benefit from an additional harvest in fall. Utilizing a garden planner–such as that included with my book The Family Garden Planner–you can plan out planting and harvest dates to have a constant source of produce throughout the year.

Fall is ideal for planting shrubs and ornamental grasses, as these perennial plants thrive in cooler temperatures. Also, this season, hardy perennial flowers such as asters and chrysanthemums and easy-to-grow roses and salvias flourish.

Consider adding evergreen blooms, such as Ajuga Reptans (Zones 3 to 9), for a burst of year-round colour. This perennial ground cover boasts dense foliage with vivid blue-purple-green blooms that attract pollinators such as butterflies.

Beyond flowering plants, including perennial foliage and deciduous trees in your landscape will add interest when the garden is not blooming. Ornamental grasses add movement and texture; conifers or holly trees add winter appeal with bare branches or needle-like leaves.

Summer’s heat can make you long for an inviting garden that can be appreciated throughout all four seasons, and there are numerous options available, from fragrant spring-blooming bulbs to evergreens that hold on to their beauty well into winter.

Crafting a garden that radiates beauty throughout the year takes careful planning, selection of blooming plants, and maintenance practices. However, with some extra effort, you can design one that celebrates each season with individuality while adding curb appeal to your home exterior.


After planting, re-mulching, and reseeding in spring, annual vegetables have begun to fade, and perennial flowers have begun their fadeout process. While it can be tempting to shut the garden gate and call, it quits for another season, investing time and energy now in winter preparation will pay dividends next spring in terms of reduced damage, disease, and weeds in your garden next spring. Spending just an hour addressing dahlias that remain and overwintered fuchsias that need moving or removal will keep the garden looking neat while giving you time to take stock and see what needs to be moved or removed next spring!

As the season unfolds, maintaining a healthy garden requires tending to climb roses, pruning back spent flower heads, relocating some plants, and adding winter interest with ornamental grasses, heucheras or sedums, as well as adding some berry-producing shrubs such as pyracantha or cotoneaster which provide visual texture as well as drawing birds and wildlife into your space.

As you prepare your winter garden, avoid filling every square inch with flowering plants that could quickly become visually overwhelming. Instead, strive for an appealing balance of heights, with taller trees and perennials placed towards the rear of the landscape and more vibrant low-growing shrubs and ground covers in front. Vary colours for added drama; try more excellent greens and blues alongside warmer yellows and reds.

Making your garden year-round requires careful thought and planning but is well within the grasp of any gardener. By dedicating effort and time, your garden will continue to bring pleasure all year! So go ahead – pull out those pencils, tea bags, and maps and start planning! And remember to keep tabs on it throughout the year: pruning, weeding, and fertilization will help ensure its continued beauty!

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