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A perennial garden is a flower garden that keeps giving.

Heather Wagner, owner of Garden Vignettes in downtown Chattanooga, said perennials, by definition, come back year after year.

"A lot of the time, the flowers get bigger and bigger every year," she said. "The best part is that you don't have to do maintenance. The most important step when making a perennial garden is that you amend the soil first. It will make the plants thrive."

Ms. Wagner offers the following tip on how to establish a productive perennial garden.

FIVE STEPS

1 Match plants to your site. Assess your climate, sunlight and soil, and then make the best match you can from among the perennials that meet your needs.

2 Plan your garden. Most perennials have a relatively short blooming season compared to annuals, so planning your space on paper first should help you to have something in bloom most of the year. For a "wow" factor, think about planting perennials in mass plantings.

3 Prepare the soil. This is probably the most important step. Remember you want to make sure your site is well amended because the perennials are going to be in the same location for many seasons. If the site is not well amended, most perennials will not live for more than one year.

4 Cut back spent blooms. This is a very important task for all perennials. By deadheading the faded blooms, many perennials will produce more buds and flowers. This should become a regular garden task.

5 Start preparing for fall installations. It's not too early to think about your fall projects. Set up a consultation with your landscaper to come up with a plan.

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