How to Start Flower Beds


To start a flower bed, you need to know your soil type, planting zone and how much sun and rainfall your flowerbed will receive. You can start a flowerbed at any time during the year, as long as the soil can be worked. You can plant a bed in full sun, part sun or full shade. Choose flowers that meet the requirements of your area to ensure the success of your garden.

Step 1

Pick an area for your flowerbed. Observe how much sun your bed receives each day and if it's in a dry or wet area of your yard. Decide how the flower bed will be viewed. Create a design on paper that you can alter if needed.

Step 2

Use a garden hose or chalk to mark a border. Dig all the grass from the inside of the border with a flat shovel. You can smother grass by placing five to eight layers of newspaper on the area and adding a 5-inch layer of compost on top. Water it thoroughly. This method is best done in the fall so the bed can be planted in the spring.

Step 3

Test the soil with a kit that can be purchased at a garden center or take a sample to your local county cooperative extension office. If your soil needs to be amended, you should do that before planting.

Step 4

Find the planting zone that you're located in by asking at a garden center or the extension office. You need this information to choose the right plants for your area.

Step 5

Plant shorter flowers in the front of your bed as a border and taller ones in the back or place the larger plants in the middle, if the garden will be seen from all sides. If the garden is dark, use lighter colored flowers. Mixing different types and textures of flowers and foliage in the same color is called massing. It creates interest in the garden. Mulch your flower bed after planting with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. This will help conserve moisture and eliminate weeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never make a flower bed too small, it needs to accommodate plants as they grow. Don't use only perennials in your design, annuals, bulbs and foliage plants also do well together.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Garden hose or chalk
  • Flat shovel
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Compost (optional)
  • Soil testing kit


  • Readers Digest Complete Book of the Garden; 1968
  • Designing a Flower Bed with View in Mind
  • Extension Service Garden Hints
Keywords: starting flower beds, choosing flowers, mulch flower bed

About this Author

Liz Ward is a Visual Communications Designer and writer. Ward's articles are published on and Ward has written for Demand Studios and Text Broker. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Design and a Minor in photography from Purdue University. She is also a master gardener.