Few surroundings are more beautiful than a rose garden in full bloom. If you have the space, the sunlight and the inclination, you can turn your backyard or patio into a haven of roses, perfect for fragrant afternoons and relaxing summer evenings. With a little forethought, you can design a rose garden to fit any style landscape, from clipped and formal to wild and woolly.
The Traditional Rose Garden
The formal, traditional rose garden is laid out geometrically, often in the shape of a square or rectangle. Use paving stones or strips of sod to divide the garden into symmetrical beds. Plant tree roses (also called rose standards) at the four outer corners of the garden, and shrub roses and hybrids in the beds. If the rose garden is situated against a wall or trellis, plant climbing roses along its length as a backdrop. Arrange the roses in the beds by color, grouping warm shades such as reds and pinks, and cooler shades such as whites and yellows. Give each plant enough space so that it can be admired on its own.
Cottage and Container Rose Gardens
If the controlled, geometrical look isn't for you, or if you have an irregularly-shaped garden space, consider the cottage-style rose garden. The classic cottage garden appears unstudied and elegantly overgrown, but is actually the result of much planning. Climbing and shrub roses are at home in a cottage garden, as opposed to the more modern hybrid or tea roses. While some cottage rose gardens use roses exclusively, many situate other flowers and plants--even herbs and vegetables--between, and in front of, the roses to create a lush vista of color and foliage.
If your only gardening space is a balcony or patio, don't worry, you can still have your roses. Many smaller varieties of roses are perfectly happy growing in containers. Miniature roses are especially well-suited for life in a container, but any variety that grows between 2 and 5 feet tall is a good candidate. Buy large pots or build square, wooden tubs at least 16 inches deep to give the roots room to grow.
Planting Tips for Roses
However you decide to lay out your rose garden, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Roses need a good deal of light, at least six hours a day. (Cooler morning sun is preferable to strong afternoon sun, which can singe the flowers.) Before you plant, make certain that the garden is in an area with good soil and drainage, neither too dry nor too swampy after a rain. Roses prefer a soil pH of around 6.5 to 7.0, so test your soil beforehand and use soil mix-ins if necessary to change your soil to the correct acidity. Situate your roses far enough away from trees and shrubs so that they won't compete for root space. If you're planting rows of roses behind each other, be sure to plant the taller varieties behind the shorter ones, so that you won't accidentally hide your carefully-tended flowers.
How to Plant a Rose Garden
Rose gardens are some of the most beautiful and satisfying gardens, but sometimes seem daunting to get started. A few simple steps...