Learn how to design a beautiful new garden bed that requires full sun plants, including how to choose and plant them for the best results.
Last fall a neighbor accidentally backed into our brick mailbox with their moving truck. It was original to the house and had seen better days. After checking with a professional we were told it was going to need to be rebuilt. However, we decided instead to tear it down and replace it with a standard mailbox and street lamp.
The new mailbox and lamp post look great but the area needed a little landscaping so we thought it would be nice to create a nice garden around the mailbox and lamp this spring.
This post about full sun plants is sponsored by Proven Winners Direct. All opinions are my own.
Issues to Consider When Creating a New Garden
- How much sunlight does the area get?
- How will it get watered?
- Does this area have trouble with pests like deer or rabbits?
- Is this something you will plant flowers in every year or would you rather have shrubs and perennial plants that come back year after year?
For my mailbox area, I know that it gets sun all day long. This means I need plants that are labeled for full sun. In fact, those designated as heat tolerant or drought tolerant would be a bonus. I do have a sprinkler nearby but I know that I may need to hand water the plants at least the first season to get them established. Also, deer are a real problem for us, even next to the road so deer resistant plants are a must. Finally, I'd like to have perennials and/or shrubs so I don't have to replant the entire garden bed every year.
Steps to Create a Full Sun Garden
Prepare the Garden Bed
- Remove the sod and anything growing in the designated area.
- Call 811-One Call to have your utilities marked.
- Add some compost to the soil.
- Determine a rough number of plants, considering elevation if necessary.
Shop for Plants
You are probably familiar with Proven Winners® plants. They are well known for high-quality plants and are readily available at many nurseries.
However, did you know you can have them delivered to you? With Proven Winners Direct you can order plants online directly through Home Depot and Amazon, and they will be shipped right to your door.
I was very impressed with the way they were shipped to my home, especially in early spring when the weather is volatile. They came carefully packed in specially designed boxes with holes and each plant was covered with a warm landscape fabric type material.
Tips for Choosing Plants
Proven Winners Direct has so many wonderful plants that have been trialed and tested for three years before they are chosen for the Proven Winners® line and sold to the consumer. This means you can feel good about choosing their plants to create your garden.
However, there are a couple of considerations you should think of when choosing your plants. You can find all of this information on each plant detail page making it easy to determine which plants will work best.
Determine your plant hardiness zone. In the US the area where you live corresponds to a zone number that will tell you which plants will make it through the winter. My property is located in zone 6a.
Keep in mind your original requirements from above:
For my garden I needed:
- Full Sun plants
- Zone 6 hardiness
- Deer resistant plants
- A mix of shrubs and perennials
- Drought and heat tolerant a plus
Luckily the plants on the Home Depot site for Proven Winners Direct gives you all the information you need to see if a particular plant is a good fit for your garden.
Gardening on a Slope
If you are gardening on a slope like me you will want to choose plants that will cascade down from top to bottom. For example, I chose a fairly tall shrub for the top center area of the garden flanked by two slightly smaller shrubs on each side. Below them are smaller shrubs and perennials and a couple of annuals. Even though I said I did not want to plant new plants every year, during the first season while the plants are small, filling in with some annuals is a good idea.
The holy grail of any garden is to display some interest through all of the seasons. This can be difficult to do but not impossible. Of course many will flower through the spring and summer but finding some that may bloom in fall or those with pretty fall color is a must.
Plants Chosen for this Full Sun Garden
All of my choices grow well in Full-Sun and are deer resistant plants. I've grown all of them except for the Deutzia shrub at one time or another. They are easy to grow and thrive well in my zone 6 property.
- Pearl Glam® Beautyberry (Callicarpa) - This is a nice sized shrub that is easy to grow. I already have the beautyberry variety Early Amethyst and love it for the gorgeous purple berries in the fall. However, this variety boasts purple-black foliage so it will look pretty all season long.
- Beyond Midnight® Bluebeard (Caryopteris) - I picked up 2 of these slightly smaller shrubs to place on the sides of the beautyberry. They are deer resistant and display pretty purple flowers all summer long. Good for flower arrangements and they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
- Next, I chose 2 Deutzia Creme Fraiche™ slightly smaller than the Bluebeard shrubs. This one has beautiful white flowers in the spring (see pic above) and gorgeous variegated foliage all season long.
- Lavandula angustifolia has always grown great for me and this one is labeled drought and heat tolerant so I chose 3 Sweet Romance™ Lavender plants to fill in around the deutzia plants.
- To complement the lighter color of the deutzia and purple hues of the lavender and larger shrubs I chose some Superbells® Double Chiffon double calibrachoa to fill in around the sides. They are annuals and will not come back next season. However, depending on how the garden grows in I may not need to replace them next year, but I think it's nice to have the option.
- In the very front of the mailbox, I chose Goldilocks Creeping Jenny. This is a tough ground cover perennial that will add a brightness to the area and will spread easily.
- Last but not least, I definitely wanted something to climb up and adorn the lamp post. I chose the award winning Clematis Brother Stefan™, a prolific summer bloomer with pretty purple flowers that will tie back to the other lavender flowers in the garden.
Planting and Maintenance
- When you receive your plants consider letting them acclimate to the area for a day or two before planting. If possible plant on a cloudy day before the rain, causing less transplant shock.
- Dig a hole twice as large but no deeper than the pot it was shipped in.
- Add some compost mixed in with the original garden soil around the plant as you fill in the hole.
- Give the area a good thorough watering and gently tamp down around the sides.
- Mulch the entire bed leaving an inch or two from the edge of the plants uncovered.
- Watch for frost warning if planting early. Cover with a tarp overnight.
- Be sure to water the plants every three days if there is no rain, or more if the weather is really hot, for the first season.
Creating a garden in full sun can be an easy and rewarding project you will enjoy for years.
I can already tell that this garden has added some major curb appeal to our property. I can't wait to see what it looks like by the end of the summer.
Update - End of August 2019
Here are some pictures of the garden 3 months later:
I can't wait to see how great it looks next season.
P.S. More helpful posts about starting new garden beds include Tips to Planning a Garden and 7 Rules of Thumb for New Plants. You can find these and many more gardening tips on the Gardening Page.
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My favorite plant lady. I have learned so much from you and always save your flower and plant ideas.
Moving into a house in the Metroparks . I see lots of trees!
But we are zone 6a too so I am going to have to buy new mailbox anyway and as we are the only people on the road a light at the driveway would be nice. I saw a solar one I liked. Such fun. I imagine deer and rabbits will come calling. The purple color is my husbands favorite. So I am going with your choices. A nice way to thank him for retiring from the Army and buying me this wonderful 2 acre fantastic home and for selling his Texas house to move here for me and my twin grandchildren. His own garden.
Jody, that sounds wonderful. Send me a pic when it's all done.
Lots of great tips here Patti. We also have an area in our home that gets lots of sunlight and I have no idea how to keep it looking fresh.
Thanks Mary. Most of the plants I have selected here have been great choices for me in other parts of our property. Also you usually can't go wrong with Proven Winners.
We just moved into a new place, and these tips are just what I need for our back porch. Thanks so much Patti. I pinned this post so I can easily refer back to it.
Have a great week!
I hope that it's a big help Meegan.
I had no idea you could get plants online! Is there anything you can't get from Amazon? I'm definitely going to look online. I'm starting some new gardens and looking for some specific plants that I'm not finding locally.
Your mailbox garden is going to be the envy of the neighborhood!
Susan. They have a great variety and some that I've never heard of before.
Great post. I love all the garden and planting tips.
Thank you for sharing.
I must have that beauty berry! First time I have seen the dark leaf one.
Wow...so much great information packed in here. Thanks Patti...we are moving to a much sunnier home and will surely put some of these tips to good use.
You're welcome Lynn. How fun to be able to start from scratch in a new home. Let me know if you need any help at all.
Such great ideas and tips for us with a black thumb. I have learned over the years to buy the right plants for the sun or shade. Proven Winners are always great. I have a few on my patio now.
Super helpful post, Patti. My Wee Abode has a tiny porch that gets full sun for most of the day. I've saved this to my Gardening board!
Julie, they have some nice dwarf accent shrubs like butterfly shrubs that may be perfect for your porch.
What a timely post. Most of our back yard is full sun and we plan to add a few new perennial beds. You have chosen such a beautiful combination of plants and shrubs and I hope you will share some progress pictures as your garden begins to mature!
Maureen, they have tons of great perennials to choose from and all the pertinent info you need to determine if it's the right fit for your garden. I will definitely be updating my post later in the season. I hope you get a chance to stop back and see it.
That garden is going to be great! Love Proven Winners ♥️
Thanks Stephanie. I love them too. Great plans that you can rely on to thrive and perform well in your garden.
Great ideas. Thanks. You'll have to post pictures so we can keep up with the progress and how fast they grow.
Thanks Paula. I will definitely update the post with pictures as the garden grows.
By the way, beautiful yard.
Thanks Paula. ♥
That clematis reminds me of my my mother's lamp post in the house we grew up in. I love the purple color. My hubby was just saying we need to work on a little garden we have for a statue of Mary we just put up. It's in a very shady area. I'll go check out the online plants for this. Do you have any suggestions for shady areas that are very low maintenance?
You can't beat hosta for shady low maintenance. It's a perennial that will come back year after year too. Depending on how shady the area is you could try some of the smaller hydrangea shrubs too.
You have a beautiful front lawn. This product sounds great for the yard.
Thanks Maria. The plants were so nice an healthy and what a convenience to order from home.
Pam @ House Of Hawthornes
Great choices! I had not heard of that particular Beautyberry before but it sounds like just the thing to brighten up my overgrown and boring foundation plantings. Love that I can order online and have it delivered although that may cut down on my impulse flower buying (hoarding?) a bit 🙂
Thanks Pam. I know what you mean about impulse shopping. There are so many great choices in varieties that I haven't seen before it was a little hard to keep my choices to a minimum. I am so excited about the beautyberry because my other one with boring green leaves is one of my favorites. It's so reliable year after year and the berries in the fall are gorgeous.
This is so informative. I really like focal point gardens and you'll have to return to this once those beautiful plants take off. I can see pumpkins mixed in for fall and a few bulbs for spring.
You're so blessed that you don't need to add a border. Our sod in North Texas is almost always Bermuda in neighborhoods and it grows out like a vein. It can be take over a space quickly, luckily I don't have that issue in the country anymore... LOL
Having plants delivered is great, shopping online and having everything delivered seems to be the wave of the future. Hope your week is great!
Thanks Carole. We sometimes do have a problem with grass growing into the garden beds but not too much. I usually need to make a clean edge around the bed every other year that helps.
Great tips and your new mailbox looks great!!!!
Thanks Kristi. It's a much needed improvement.