Arrange your plants in a garden bed instead of planting rows directly in the ground. Garden beds offer numerous advantages to the backyard gardener, including convenience and improved plant health, according to Ohio State University. Don't just stick your plants in your garden bed in a haphazard manner. Specific preparation and arrangement guidelines can help you optimize your garden plants' health for a lusher, more productive garden.
Prepare the garden bed soil. Remove any weeds or old vegetation from previous growing seasons. Break up the garden bed soil surface with a spade to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. If the soil has settled over time--beds will often settle by 50 percent of their height ever year, according to the University of Connecticut--you may need to replenish the bed's height by piling on new garden loam.
Amend the garden bed. Stir in a couple of inches of aged compost, followed with a basic 10-10-10 garden fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to its labeled guidelines, because potency varies by product.
Map out how you plan to arrange the plants in your garden bed. It may help for you to sketch out a bed design on a piece of paper. For ornamental garden beds, Texas A&M University recommends planting perennials in the center or rear of the garden bed and arranging annuals on the front or border of the bed. This provides you with easy access to the annuals, letting you replace the plants as needed without disturbing your perennials. If growing vegetables, arrange the plants with the fastest-to-harvest specimens nearest the bed's edge.
Plant your garden bed. If sowing seeds, bury each seed according to the space and depth requirements listed on the seed packet. If using transplants, dig a hole that's the size of the transplant's current pot size or root ball, place the plant in the hole and fill in the hole's sides with soil.
Spread mulch around your plants after planting the garden bed. Mulch is one of the most critical elements of a garden bed, according to Texas A&M University, since it helps retain soil moisture while blocking weed growth. The University of Connecticut recommends spreading mulch in a layer that's 3 inches thick.