How to Create a Rose Garden

Rose Garden-300x225 in How to Create a Rose Garden and gardeningtipsAs summer quickly approaches, many homeowners are considering revamping their landscaping.  Some updating projects include new outdoor lighting, new furniture, and even a new water feature. One new project that many gardeners find intimidating is the creation of a rose garden.

Before considering creating a new garden bed, consider the amount of time involved in this process.  Roses are not that hard to grow, but they do require some care beyond planting them.

If a rose garden is still in your future, then begin with a plan.  Observe your lawn or garden space through out the year and note the direction of the sun, wind direction, and any features that shade or interfere with the chosen space.  Roses require at least 6 hours of full sun a day and actually do better with more sunlight. If the wind in the chosen area is strong, the roses will have to be planted with some type of windbreak.  This can be a building, fence, or vegetation.

Next, decide what type of rose fits the chosen environment.  Some roses require trellising while some are ground covers and others are freestanding.  Below is a list of common roses found in a rose garden.

Hybrid Tea Rose

This type of rose bush produces vase shaped blooms that are fragrant.  If this rose bush is deadheaded, it will bloom repeatedly.

Grandiflora Rose

This type of rose bush produces the largest blooms of all the roses.  The blooms appear in clusters.  It is also the largest of the rose bushes and needs a lot of room to grow.  It is not cold hardy in areas beyond USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5 without mulching the canes.

Floribanda Rose

This rose bush is one that can be found blooming the whole growing season in many landscapes.  It is a low growing variety that is bushy in shape.  It is easy to grow and is extremely hardy in cold areas. The blooms of this plant are comparable to the hybrid tea, but they are smaller in size.  The floribanda rose is susceptible to blackspot.

Polyantha Rose

This rose is very similar to a floribunda in that it produces non-fragrant blooms all growing season.  This rose grows into a low shrub-like shape that has very attractive foliage.  This rose is very suitable for containers and is disease resistant.

Shrub Rose

This type of rose is very good to incorporate into a landscape plan.  It is cold hardy, disease resistant, and a good ground cover.  The flowers of this rose variety do not produce a fragrance and are not good as cut flowers.

Miniature Rose

This type of rose works well in containers and blooms nonstop.  The flowers of this rose produce no aroma, but it is a very hardy type of rose.

Climbing and/or Rambling Rose

Climbing and/or rambling roses are the most diverse of all roses.  Some bloom only once while others bloom the whole season.  This type of rose must have some type of support.  This can come from a trellis, wall or even a fence.

Once you have picked the correct rose for your chosen area and need, the garden area must be prepared.

Creating the Garden Space

If converting a lawn area into a rose bed, the first step is to outline the bed with powdered milk.  This is a great non-toxic way of outlining any type of garden.  Next, remove the sod.  This can be done with a sod cutter or just digging down 6- to 8-inches into the sod. After the sod from the area has been removed, smooth out the soil with a garden rake.

Mark the areas in the new bed with powdered milk where you plan to place the rose bushes.  Once this is done, dig the hole 15-inches deep and 18-inches wide per plant.  If planting bare-rooted roses, make a mound in the center of each hole.

Soak bare rooted roses in one gallon of water and ½ cup Epsom salt for at least one hour or overnight.  If using potted roses, water the plant with the above water/Epsom salt combination until ready to plant.

Roses like calcium, magnesium, and potassium a lot.  To address these needs, first add one handful of bone meal, one tablespoon Epsom salt, and a banana peel to each hole.  Then, mix compost or peat moss with the soil leftover from digging the hole.  Remove the rose from its container and place in the hole.  If using bare rooted roses, spread the roots so that they hang down over the mound in the hole.  Once the rose bush is placed in the hole, fill in around the roots with the soil mixture.  Make sure that the “crown” of the rose bush is slightly deeper than its original soil depth.  Gently compact the soil around the bush.  Before watering the rose bush in, add ½ cup of Epsom salt to the soil surface for each rose bush.

After the rose bush begins to leaf out, continue to add Epsom salt when the rose bush is watered.  The amount depends on the height of each rose bush.  To calculate the amount, measure the height of the rose bush and apply one tablespoon per foot on top of the soil.  Water the Epsom salt in and repeat every two weeks throughout the growing season.

As an old country music song used to say, “I never promised you a rose garden”, but with a little planning and the right variety of rose bush this does not have to be so.


Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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