8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

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A perfect flower bed adds a lot of appeal to your yard. It takes some effort to get one established, but once you see the results, you’ll know the effort was well worth it.

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When it comes to setting up your garden space, flower beds deserve most of the praise. The right bed of blooms draws attention to the entire garden and adds a cheery pop of color to your growing space.

However, establishing the perfect flower bed doesn’t happen by chance. It takes time and attention to correctly set one up, but doing it right will reward you for years to come.

Here’s what you need to know to establish and enjoy perfect garden beds in your growing space.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed
How to Establish a Perfect Flower Bed

It’s a multi-step process to establish great flower beds. Follow these eight tips to get started.

1. Choose the Right Location

Where you place your flower bed is an important consideration. Take time to stroll throughout your yard to consider possible growing spaces. In each potential spot, pay attention to the available light, proximity to buildings, and water sources. Will the bed look isolated in the space, or will it complement the rest of your landscaping?

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

Ideally, you want a spot that’s easy to access so you are motivated to maintain it, with enough sun exposure to support bloom formation for the flowers you plant. For most varieties, that’s at least six hours of sunlight a day.

2. Create a Plan

Planting a flower bed without a plan is a recipe for doing the same work twice. So, take the time to do it correctly the first time by planning precisely what you want to plant.

Get a notebook and draw out the bed, placing each potential plant within it. Do you want the bed to have a symmetrical layout, or would you prefer a more random assortment? Will there be any garden sculptures or other focal points within it?

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

One common beginning-gardener mistake is committing to more than you can maintain. This first year, start with a smaller garden bed. It’s always possible to expand it for future growing seasons.

Here are two primary considerations when planning out the bed: ensure there are new blooms all season long, and plan coordinating colors.

When it comes to choosing flower varieties, blooming time should be a top consideration. Ideally, you want a variety of species that will give the bed color from one end of the growing season to another.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

This might mean a mix of perennials interspersed with spring bulbs and heat-loving annuals that thrive at the height of summer. Research what grows well in your growing zone when making your choices.

It’s also best to consider the heights of different varieties to plan to put the tallest plants near the back.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

Even the most well-planned flower bed can look bad if the colors clash. Try to stick to a smaller color palette to ensure everything coordinates. Take time to ensure that the flower bed fits in with the larger landscape rather than sticking out in unattractive ways.

3. Prep Existing Beds

If you’re not starting from scratch but instead want to rehab an existing flower bed, it’s time to do some work to get it back in shape. First, dig up and remove any dead or unwanted plant material. You can add most of it to a compost pile, but be sure to throw away anything that looks diseased or shows insect damage.

Trim around any perennials and gently roughen up the soil throughout the bed. Add a thin layer of organic material like compost to the bed.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed
4. Thoroughly Strip Sod for a New Bed

When the plan is to build a brand-new garden bed, your first step needs to be stripping off the existing sod. Sod cutters are perfect for larger spaces, but you can get by with a regular spade for a small bed. Strive to pull up at least an inch and a half of soil and roots (four centimeters) to ensure you don’t leave any behind to resprout.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed
5. Pay Attention to Soil Quality

Once the sod has been removed from the new growing space, it’s time to amend the soil to prep it for planting. Digging through the ground with a tiller or even a hand spade will turn it over and aerate it while dislodging weedy roots you missed with the first pass. Go down up to 12 inches (30 cm) when the soil is hard and compact.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

If you’re prepping the bed in the fall, you can conduct a soil test to determine what amendments are necessary for growth in the spring. Otherwise, a generous serving of organic material such as compost, aged manure, or decayed leaves will get things on track. Avoid extra-fine compost, as it usually breaks down too quickly. Chunky amendments tend to be best.

6. Add a Border

Part of what keeps a flower bed appealing is that it’s well-defined in a larger landscape. In order to create a sense of separate space (and prevent encroaching weeds), it’s best to establish a border around the bed.

Garden supply stores offer many options for border materials. You can also create a rustic look with stones, small stumps, or other natural materials.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed
7. Choose Complementary Mulch

Permanent flower beds will look nice longer and support healthier plants when you apply mulch. Wood chips tend to work best because they suppress weed growth, keep moisture in the soil, and break down into dirt over time. You can also use shredded leaves or pea gravel in certain climates.

Keep the mulch to 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) to ensure the roots don’t become suffocated or oversaturated. Natural mulches will break down and need to be replaced every few years.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed
8. Stay on Top of Weeding

The fastest way to make a flower bed look drab is to let it become overrun with weeds. So, take time every week to get in the bed and hand pull any weeds that get established. A few minutes of work will keep the bed looking perfect and save you hours in the long run.

8 Steps for Starting a Perfect Flower Bed

Establishing a perfect garden bed takes some initial prep work, but the results speak for themselves. Get planning now, and your yard will look gorgeous for years to come!