As one of the world’s most beloved garden plants, roses deserve a prominent spot in the landscape. While these long-lived shrubs have a reputation of being somewhat fussy, newer cultivars bred for disease-resistance and vigor have made growing roses easy for even novice gardeners.
A rose garden can be as simple as a single rose specimen interspersed with a few other plants. It can be as elaborate as a formal landscape embellished with hardscaping, arbors, seating, and statuary. Even smaller spaces can accommodate roses in containers, raised beds, or narrow side yards. Here are the basics of rose garden design, along with some ideas to get you started.
Planning A Rose Garden
- Choose your site. Make sure the site gets at least 6-8 hours of sun a day and has good air circulation to help prevent disease.
- Make a plan. Gather ideas from books and online sources for inspiration. Draw up a rough sketch as you’re brainstorming to help visualize what the finished garden will look like.
- Include pathways for easy access. Beds should be small enough to allow for pruning and other maintenance chores. Consider structures such as pergolas, arbors or trellises, as well as seating and decorative accents.
- Choose a style. Decide what kind of rose garden you want. Do you want a clean formal look with structured hardscape, or a more natural appearance with other plants mixed in? Pick a style that will harmonize with your home’s exterior.
- Pick a color scheme. Select colors that you enjoy and that will also help unify the home with the landscape.
- Prepare the soil. Roses like rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6.0-7.0. Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter. For containers, use a high quality all-purpose potting soil and make sure pots have adequate drainage holes.
- Choose roses that are easy-care and hardy in your region. Select varieties for traits including size, shape, flower color, and form, fragrance and repeat or continual bloom. Many newer varieties such as Oso Easy Roses are bred for disease-resistance, vigor, and long bloom time. Some older types, particularly hybrid teas, can be higher maintenance and more disease-prone.
Rose Garden Landscaping Tips
- Grow vertically:
Include climbing roses to maximize your space. Train other vining plants such as clematis to grow up through shrub or climbing roses to create exciting flower combinations.
- Grow horizontally:
Train climbers along a fence to define garden rooms or to soften an unsightly chain link fence.
- Plant in containers:
Many roses can be successfully grown in containers, a good solution for small spaces, apartment balconies, patios, and decks. Containers should be at least 15 to 20 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches deep. Half whiskey barrels work well. Miniature roses can be grown in smaller pots or hanging baskets.
- Cover a slope:
Mass groundcover varieties such as Flower Carpet® or Drift® roses along a slope for low-maintenance erosion control.
- Plant in drifts:
For greater impact, plant in groups of 3-5 specimens of the same variety.
- Plant a hedge:
Plant a row of taller shrub roses to create privacy from the street. A row of shorter groundcover roses can be planted along a foundation, in a curbside strip, or used to define garden areas.
- Make an entrance:
Create a grand entrance to your home with an inviting entryway complete with a rose arbor and adjacent plantings to soften the landscape.
These are some rose garden ideas and tips that can be helpful.