Reese

Taking care of a flower bed. So calm down and take a deep breath. I think you are overestimating how difficult it is to maintain a flower bed that is properly set up. I have a few suggestions to make this flower bed much more maintenance free than the grass.

You want to plant grass early so it gets developed before the heat of the summer.

  1. Start with a bed that doesn't have weeds. This bed is probably too far gone to save. I would pull out your favorite plants and use roundup on all of the rest. The roundup will state on the bottle how long you need to wait before planting. There are several that are only 1 day of waiting time like the one linked below.
  2. You need to have good boarders to help maintain a barrier between the grass and flower bed. Rocks do not make good boarders because they do not prevent grass from creeping under them. Check out the double brick boarder that I linked below. If you dig down a bit and have sand under this boarder the grass will never get into your landscape. It also prevents the mulch from getting into your lawn. This boarder is also nice because your flowers can hang over without getting in the way of the mower. There are other boarders like this but the idea is to have it deep enough to prevent grass from being able to run under. Get a good 3" of mulch in there and you will find that you have much less of an issue with weeds. You probably never mulched heavily before because it would fall out because of your boarder problem.
  3. Always use a pre-emergent weed preventer like Preen early in the Spring to prevent weeds. Combine this with the mulch and your weeding time will be less than mowing the area by far.
  4. Plant native perennial plants in your bed.These will generally require less maintenance and watering. If you get 4-6 hours of direct sunlight then plant shaded plants. 6 hours will work for full sunlight plants. The sun is not strong in the morning so sunlight time before 9:00 AM is negligible.
  5. Put down a high quality tarp under the mulch to further prevent weeds.

The method of edging you linked will work but it's not very good at keeping the mulch in your flower bed and you will have to redo the edge multiple times each year so it does not fill back in. I've seen people use this method on on the outside of rubber tube edging and that seems to be effective.

Reese

When I was a little kid my mom made me a "playhouse" by planting a circle of sunflowers and planting morning glories all around them.

The morning glories covered the sides and made a drapey kind of roof over all. /powdery mildew means they're not getting enough water.

I remember this from the first year I grew sunflowers.

I grow them as a living fence to block my nosy neighbors from hanging over the waist high fence and gawking at my every move. Anyway, I've been doing it for quite a few years now and the bees no longer bother me. I even dead head them while the bees are on the other blooms.

They really, really do not want to bother you and all you have to do is start slowly walking away if some bother you. The last thing they want to do is sting you so if you don't move suddenly or act aggressively, you have nothing to worry about.

The will mind their own bees wax.

Reese

I live in the midwest & have been following our state's Native advice for a few years now. We're not the same, but I recognize the names of several bird, bee, butterfly friendly items on your list. (Plus a few new ones!) Have fun with your new habitat!

We have been working hard to replace traditional plants in our region in yard with natives. I spent the weekend ripping out English Ivy that had overtaken a retaining wall at my house.

Our front flower bed has bee balm, cardinal flowers, coneflowers, yarrow, swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, as well as a few others I am forgetting. I bought an elderberry bush and a red chokeberry bush that are waiting to go in the ground.

We are planning on adding a lot this year, including one of the prarie moon nursery packs that contains:

  1. anise hyssop
  2. Bradbury's monarda
  3. butterfly weed
  4. early goldenrod
  5. golden Alexander's
  6. Hairy mountain mint
  7. Little bluestem
  8. northern blazing star
  9. orange coneflowers
  10. Ohio spiderwort
  11. prairie coreopsis
  12. Prarie dropseed
  13. royal catchfly
  14. Wild petunia

These may not all be native to your location, but they are native to the US at least. The biggest ones that are important here are the milkweeds as it's the only plant a monarch will lay it's eggs on. A woman in a nature group I attend runs the butterfly highway - they sell native seed packs to help attract pollinators which is pretty cool.

Reese

I have about 30 houseplants and only 3 that flower pretty regularly though I love flowers outside. One is a begonia and the other 2 are some crown of thorns plants that I picked up about 6 months ago.

They've been flowering ever since.

Still I don't care that much for flowers since I feel like I can't watch them grow like my green plants.

I don't complain when they bloom like my neighbor but I don't wait on them either. I prefer foliage, but most plants that aren't ferns and cycads have the capacity to bloom.

The thing with flowering houseplants is that they just take a lot more effort to maintain. They need more light, and if something goes wrong and you need to repot them, you risk shocking the plant enough to kill off the flowers. There's also the issue of what to do with them after they're done blooming.

Also, sunflowers and wildflowers make horrible houseplants. Sunflowers are annuals, and will die within one year. They also need more light than you can give them indoors. Wildflowers will often need some sort of cold dormancy period that you can't provide indoors.

A good portion of them are also annuals or biennials.

Reese

The east side of a house isn't usually problematic. It's the north side in this hemisphere that can be a problem because of the lack of sun.

The east side gets morning sun, obviously. II think roses like morning sun. Roses wouldn't work for planters, though.

I keep petunias in my hanging baskets on the east side of my home, and they do just fine, especially the one that's closer to the southern side. Petunias are also very cheap and hard to kill. Just remember that hanging baskets dry out pretty quickly, so in the hot summer months, they'll need to be watered regularly. Another good one for baskets are geraniums.

I believe you can buy geraniums and petunias as 4 packs at a hardware store for probably a couple dollars.

Go to your local plant nursery with pictures of your location.

Your local nursery will have the a great idea on what grows. Don't forget to tell them about sun conditions and any trees that might put that side of the house in shade. If you want perennials, they'll get you those. Personally, I like a mix of perennials and spring, summer and fall blooming bulbs for really low maintenance gardening. I also add herbs like thyme and chives that flower, are useful, and are perennial/bulbs.

Clematis, iris, daffodil, tulips, grape hyacinth, hollyhocks.

Mums bloom in the fall, so you wouldn't see anything for awhile if you planted them in the spring.

Inpatients are always a nice choice, they bloom basically all summer and do well almost anywhere.

Personally, I'm very pro-native plants right now because they support pollinators.

I think they might be a good starting point for you. They use a 19 inch pot, so you can't include everything they do.

I'd skip the oregano or any herb if this is to be a flower garden style of compliation.

Black-eyed susan are native to your area and pretty widely available. Rosemary is also widely available. Begonias are pretty widely available, but you'd have to be careful not to get an overly large one. Gomphrena you will probably have to start from seed.

So maybe just Black eyed susans (late blooming) and Rosemary (long term) with some small begonias.

Reese

A well-grown lawn will easily crowd out weeds. Any other ground cover doesn't even come close, and things like perennial flowers are not even in the ball park.

With ground cover other than lawn grass you'll either need to hand-weed periodically, or else put down heavy mulch, with or without weedstop, and then replace that periodically, plus deal with any breakthrough weeds.

All you need to do to your lawn, once it's established, is mow it.

Or pay some kid to mow it. And fertilize it every so often, spend 10 minutes walking with a spreader twice a year. Or spray some weed-and-feed from a hose-end sprayer.

So, really, if you're going to go for "grass lawn", you've got about 1/3 as much work as you thought you did. Just clean up the old mulch and weedstop, get rid of the weeds, do standard soil prep for new lawns, then follow the instructions on the Scotts bag.

Clean it up, prep it for lawn grass, plant grass.

You change the soil conditions, and the horsetail goes away. Prepping your soil for lawn grass changes the soil conditions.

If you have time, patience, a strong back, and access to a rototiller all summer, I'd do the till-water-wait protocol: Once you have it all cleaned up, you till it all up, water it if it doesn't rain, then you wait for all the buried weed seeds in the soil to germinate. Once they're up and growing nicely, you go in and till them all up. This kills them, and brings another crop of weed seeds to the surface.

Fine.

You water them, wait, and when they're up and doing nicely, you till them under. Which brings more weed seeds to the surface.

You keep this up all summer, or until you're not seeing anything germinating, whichever comes first. Then you plant your grass seed, and you have zero weed problems for a long, long time to come.

Years, like.

Ask the Master Gardeners at the extension office, they'll have even more information than is on the website, personal-experience type stuff, "I did X in my garden and it worked, I know so-and-so who tried Y and it didn't work."

That's what makes them Master Gardeners. Call them, they looooove talking to gardeners and helping them.

Reese

A raised bed is better because you know what soil you're getting, you won't have to worry about weeds and it'll be easier to access but it's not a must-have. But don't make the mistake of putting them next to the house.

Anyone who works with foundations will tell you to never store anything directly against the side of a house.

If you insisted on putting a garden bed on the side of a house directly against the foundation you would need high quality water and vapor barriers. These barriers would need to expand past the bed due to unusual saturation of the area.

Now obviously you can put garden beds next to your house...and there is a way to do it without damaging the foundation but it is FAR more work than installing one away from your home.

The thing about gardens that are directly against a house is heat.

Because the house itself is a thermal mass, you may find that the garden bed stays warmer than other parts of the garden, especially if your house is made of brick.

This is a great thing in Winter, especially if you're growing something like a citrus, but in summer it will mean that you have to water more and mulch heavily as the beds will dry out more readily than other parts of the garden, and also may not receive as much rainfall under the eaves.

The other thing when you're planting directly against a brick structure is to remember that you'll get PH leach from the mortar between the bricks. This is no big thing if you're just doing standard vegie gardening but if you're planting something that's particularly PH sensitive (garlic, carrots, blueberries, flowing bushes like camellias etc) you'll have to watch your PH levels and occasionally even out the soil to keep it at the desired level.

Reese

Growing under a pine tree is very difficult. Growing something under a pine tree that deer do not eat is even harder. The only thing I can recommend to suit both those criteria is sweet woodruff.

We also have a lot of wild blackberries growing around our pinetrees.

Phlox is gorgeous, but it would need to be in full sun.

Salal (Gaultheria Shallon) would be awesome though I'm not entirely sure about growing it from seed. It's a broadleaf evergreen that can grow and flower in deep shade especially in acidic conditions, like under pine trees. It forms a nice thicket that can get a few feet tall and it produces sweet edible berries!

It's fairly deer resistant too. They're often rated to zone 6a so you're right on the line.