Proper Bed Prep for Planting


Flower bed preparation is an essential component prior to planting as it will create the proper environment for root establishment and growth. Research the plant requirements for soil pH and moisture as this is needed for proper soil amendment application. Don't assume that all plants have the same soil and care requirements. Follow a compost, mulch and fertilizer maintenance plan once the bed is planted to keep the soil producing at an optimum level.

Step 1

Test the soil pH of the planting area with a home pH test kit. Add limestone to raise the pH number and make the soil more alkaline, or ground rock sulfur to lower the pH number and make the soil more acidic. The pH level of the soil is based on the pH requirements for the plants being grown in the bed.

Step 2

Clear the planting area by removing weeds, unwanted vegetative growth and rocks. Use a spade shovel to remove the root structures of the weeds and prevent future growth.

Step 3

Use a tiller to work the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Rake the area to remove additional vegetative growth that was worked up.

Step 4

Mix 4 inches of organic compost into the soil with a tiller. This will increase the nutrient value and moisture retention of the soil.

Step 5

Apply a 5-10-5 fertilizer to the planting bed and work it into the soil with a tiller.

Step 6

Rake the soil smooth without compacting it. Water the planting area with a sprinkler to saturate it several inches deep. Let the amended soil settle for 24 hours prior to placing plants into it.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test kit
  • Limestone
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Spade shovel
  • Tiller
  • Organic compost
  • 5-10-5 fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Water
  • Soil composition test kit


  • University of Illinois Extension: Bed Preparation
  • The University of Georgia Extension: Soil Preparation
Keywords: prepare soil bed, flower bed maintenance, planting bed prep

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.