7 Ways to Use Annuals in Landscapes

You might be a seasoned pro at growing annuals in containers, but knowing how to use them in the landscape can be a little trickier. Let’s take a look at seven unique ways annuals can quickly enhance the look of your garden, even if you live where the growing season is short.

Annuals fill space quickly
#1 – Fill Space Quickly for Instant Impact

If there is one thing annuals are great at doing, it’s providing instant color, beauty and interest in any space. Have a backyard barbeque coming up? Plant annuals for instant beauty. Selling your home? Add annuals for instant curb appeal. Taking family photos in your yard this Father’s Day? Plant annuals for an instant backdrop.

Pictured here, Supertunia Vista® Bubblegum® petunias, or any other color in the Vista series, quickly creates a blanket of vibrant color in the landscape while Suncredible® sunflowers add height and bulk.

filling gaps with annuals
#2 – Fill Gaps While Hardy Plants are Maturing

While you wait for your hardy perennials and shrubs to mature and fill your garden bed, fill the gaps with annuals. Why look at a sea of mulch all summer when you could be enjoying flowers instead? Spreading annuals like Supertunia® petunias, Superbena® verbena and sweet alyssum are perfect for this use. They can also help to cut down on weeds while shading the soil around your hardy plants as they are getting established.

Pictured here, Supertunia Mini Vista® White petunias and Meteor Shower® verbena fill the gaps around ‘Little Goldstar’ black-eyed Susans and Color Coded® ‘One in a Melon’ coneflowers as they mature.

annual design elements
#3 – Add Textural and Structural Interest to a Garden Bed

Hardy perennials, trees and shrubs are typically the go-to plants when designing a garden for textural and structural interest. We discussed that in this article. However, you can use annuals to accomplish the same goals if you make strategic choices when selecting them for your landscape. Look for varieties that have interesting foliage, unique shaped blooms or an unusual habit to create greater visual interest.

Pictured here, Toucan® cannas anchor the design of this space with their broad leaves and tall, upright habit. The spiky flowers of Unplugged® So Blue ™ salvia and Angelface® Perfectly Pink Angelonia echo the upright shape of the cannas. Mounded trailing Supertunia® petunias and Luscious® lantana form a carpet of color at their feet.

annuals define an edge
#4 – Define the Edge of Your Bed

Planting mounded or mounding-spreading annuals is a beautiful way to define or highlight the edge of a garden bed. They help to create order in the space and add a reliable stripe of color that will last all season. If your existing foundation planting takes up most of the bed but doesn’t offer enough color, trim back just enough to pop in some annuals for color in front.

Pictured here, we used Supertunia® Persimmon and Supertunia Mini Yellow® petunias to define the edge of a new garden bed here at our garden center. Other annuals that make great edging include: Artist® Ageratum, Double Up™ begonias, Rockapulco® and SunPatiens® impatiens, Lemon Coral® sedum, Intensia® phlox and Catalina® wishbone flower

Annual color for shade
#5 – Brighten Up Your Shade Garden

Shade gardens can be just as colorful as those in the sun when you use colorful annuals like browallia, begonias, caladiums, coleus, impatiens and wishbone flower. Mass them in a large group to create a bigger color impact that lasts all season, or poke individual annuals in amongst your hostas, ferns and other shade plants for a little pop of color.

Pictured here, in the shade of a large tree, we created a large mass of color using several varieties of ColorBlaze® coleus and Surefire® begonias.

new color combination with annuals
#6 – Test Out a New Color Combination

Before you invest in more hardy perennials and shrubs to fill a space, a good way to test out possible color combinations is by planting annuals. Pictured here, white SunPatiens® impatiens and chartreuse Lemon Coral® sedum are being tested out to see how well their colors coordinate with the perennial black-eyed Susans. Live with it for the summer. Then, if you like the way the colors complement one another, invest in hardy plants of the same colors. If you don’t end up liking the colors together as much as you had anticipated, try again next year with different annuals.

riot of annual color
#7 – Create a Riot of Colorful Blooms and Fantastic Foliage       

We’ve saved the best for last – the #1 reason why people plant annuals is for COLOR! The vivid and long-lasting hues of annuals isn’t something that is easily replicated with hardy plants. If you are looking for plants that have consistent, vibrant color all season, choose annuals. Whether you are using them to liven up your landscape or fill your patio pots and window boxes, you can count on annuals to deliver the most bang for the buck.

If you’ve visited our retail garden center in Zeeland, Michigan in the summertime, you probably recognize this picture from the front of our landscape. Because we use so many annuals in this space, we are able to switch up the color theme and try new plants each year. Come on by and see what we’ve planted there this year and visit our newly expanded Proven Winners Signature Garden while you’re in town.

Shop all in stock annuals.

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