How to Start a Flower Bed

Overview

Colorful flower beds filled with a variety of blooms add natural beauty to the landscape of any home or neighborhood. Flowers draw hummingbirds and butterflies searching for nectar and a well-planned bed softens harsh corners and lines of house foundations and paths. Starting your own flower bed is not difficult to do on your own and the neighbors will appreciate your efforts. The satisfaction of knowing you started the flower bed on your own will make the work it takes to create it even more worth the effort.

Planning

Step 1

Draw a rough sketch of your front and back yards. Include existing garden areas. Be sure to include trees, structures, porches and pathways. Draw the sketch as true as you can, but you don't have to be an artist.

Step 2

Observe your garden mid-morning, afternoon and early evening. Make notes on your diagram showing the areas that get the most hours of sun exposure. Look for areas of your yard where shadows from trees or structures will shadow a potential flower bed. Avoid areas that are constantly in shade.

Step 3

Choose an area that gets sunlight for the majority of the day. Draw a separate outline of your future garden. Pencil in where you plan to put your plants in the garden. Make a list of types of flowers you want to grow. Taller flowers should go in the back of the garden, while shorter and compact plants should go in the front.

Prepare the Soil

Step 1

Lay out a length of rope on the ground in the shape you want the flower bed to be. Lay sheets of newspaper over the grass and cover with 10 inches of soil for a no-dig flower garden. If you prefer to remove the grass, insert a shovel, preferably a flat one, into the ground by placing the heel of your boot on the edge and removing the grass or turf.

Step 2

Fill the flower bed with 3 bags of soil, or more, depending on the size of your bed. Add 1 to 2 bags of finely ground mulch. Mix the soil and fine mulch together with a shovel or spade.

Step 3

Edge your flower bed with bricks or your choice of edging material that can be purchased at a garden store. Dig down into the soil around your flower bed 2 to 3 inches before inserting the edging. This keeps the grass from creeping into the flower bed.

Planting

Step 1

Consult your list of desired plants. Take into consideration the required spacing between plants before you purchase your flowers. You don't want to buy too many plants or they will crowd each other out and compete for water. Choose only the plants that have flowers that are just barely budding rather than full blooms. Be sure leaves have no insect eggs or discoloration on the tops or undersides of the plant's foliage.

Step 2

Use a garden spade to dig a hole for each plant, spacing according to each plant's package instructions. Insert the plant into the hole, cover the roots with soil and gently pat down. The base of the plant should be level with the soil. Insert a label beside each plant to remind you later of their names. Labeled Popsicle sticks work well for seeds you started indoors.

Step 3

Water the soil around the plants until the soil is damp, but not saturated. Continue to water the plants every day or when the soil dries out. Water the ground and not the foliage to prevent wilting. Watering in the mornings or evenings is best to prevent the full sun from scorching the plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear boots or sturdy shoes to protect your toes when using a shovel. Do not water plants when the sun is at its hottest times.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening soil
  • Gardening gloves
  • Shovel
  • Hand rake
  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Plant fertilizer
  • Bedding plants
  • Watering can
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Rope

References

  • Sunset: How to Grow Flowers Without a Fuss
  • North Dakota State University: Flower Bed Design and Annual Flowers
  • National Gardening Association: Cultivating the Garden

Who Can Help

  • Natinal Gardening Association: Planning a Low-Maintenance Landscape
  • Planet Natural: How to Grow Flowers - Organic Flower Gardening
Keywords: starting flower beds, flower beds, growing flowers, building flower beds

About this Author

Bobbie Brewer has been writing since 1990. Her work has appeared in publications and on Web sites including Garden Guides and Trails. Brewer is an international traveler, outdoors enthusiast and has been gardening since 1991. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University, Sacramento.