How to Make a Flower Bed


One way to start a new flower bed is to till under the existing sod, weeds or other vegetation. However, tilling by hand can be back-breaking work, and mechanical rototillers are noisy, difficult to maneuver and expensive to buy or rent. A better way to make a flower bed is through a no-dig technique known as lasagna gardening, which allows you to build perfect flower garden soil from scratch. Lasagna gardening adds nutrients to the soil, improves drainage and maintains soil integrity. It is a cheap and easy way to create a new flower bed.

Step 1

Cover the area you wish to make into a flower bed with either six to 10 sheets of newspaper or a single layer of corrugated cardboard. Do not use paper or cardboard that is glossy or printed with colored inks. There's no need to remove the existing vegetation. The newspaper or cardboard will smother it out, and as it decomposes it will add important nutrients to the soil. However, if the vegetation is very tall, you may mow it short and leave the clippings in place.

Step 2

Spread a layer of compost an inch or two deep over the newspaper or cardboard. You can make your own compost with yard trimmings and kitchen waste, or you can purchase bags of finished compost at any garden supply store. Some garden centers may also offer bulk deliveries of compost.

Step 3

Lay an inch or two of mulch over the compost. You can use leaves, dried grass clippings, straw or peat moss as the mulch layer.

Step 4

Continue adding layers of compost and mulch until you have built up the area by about 6 inches.

Step 5

Cover the intended flower bed with an inch or two of high-quality topsoil. The topsoil should be either dark brown or black, rich and crumbly, and should not contain too many stones or large amounts of clay or sand. Topsoil is available in bags or bulk deliveries.

Step 6

Wait one to six months for the newspaper or cardboard to decompose. You may also plant into the flower bed right away if you dig down through the newspaper with a hand trowel for each individual plant.

Step 7

Pick out your favorite flowers and start planting. Sow flower seeds, bulbs or transplants according to the directions on the package or tag and water them thoroughly.

Step 8

Add a fresh layer of compost every year to boost soil fertility and spread mulch over your flower bed to keep down weeds and help regulate soil temperature.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper or cardboard
  • Lawnmower
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Topsoil
  • Flower seeds, bulbs or transplants


  • Mother Earth News: Lasagna Gardening
  • The No-Work Garden Book; Ruth Stout; 1971
Keywords: start a flower bed, lasagna gardening, sheet mulching, new garden, compost

About this Author

Sonya Welter graduated cum laude from Northland College in 2002, and has worked in the natural foods industry for nearly seven years. As a freelance writer, she specializes in food, health, nature, gardening and green living. She has been published on, and several local print publications in Duluth, Minn.