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How to Dig New Flower Beds

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plants establish best in loose, well-drained beds.
a yellow flower growing in the flower-bed image by alri from Fotolia.com

Flower beds add depth and color to your landscaping. Whether it is just a narrow border near the home or along walkway or a large central bed as the focal point of your yard, a flower garden turns a bland outdoor area into an attention-getter. The flower beds must be dug and the soil prepared before you even begin considering what kind of flowers to grow. Digging and preparing a new flower bed properly ensures it produces healthy and attractive flowers each year.

Mark out the desired shape of the bed with a clothesline. Push a spade 5 inches into the soil next to the clothesline marker along the entire contour of the bed. Remove the clothesline once you have completed cutting into the soil around the bed.

Push the spade into the soil cut and turn the blade so it is parallel to the ground. Push the spade underneath the sod and lift it off the bed. Repeat this around the entire bed until all the sod has been stripped.

Till the soil to an 18-inch depth with a power tiller. Remove any rocks or large roots the tiller turns up to the surface of the bed.

Lay a 4- to 6-inch layer of of compost over the entire bed and then till it in to the 18-inch depth. Compost adds organic matter, loosens the soil and adds drainage to the new bed.

Perform a soil test using either a kit supplied by your county extension office or from a kit purchased at a garden center, following the test instructions provided with the kit. Add fertilizer to the bed at the rate recommended on the soil test. Till the fertilizers into the top 6 inches of the garden bed.

Dig a 2-inch trench that is 6 inches deep around the entire perimeter of the new bed. Fill the trench with mulch. The mulch trench edges the bed so that grass cannot encroach into the flower garden.


Things You Will Need

  • Clothesline
  • Spade
  • Power tiller
  • Compost
  • Soil test
  • Fertilizers
  • Mulch


  • Rent a sod stripper from a hardware store to quickly remove sod from large beds.
  • 6-inch steel or plastic edging can be used instead of mulch to prevent grass encroachment.


  • Areas that have had grass on them for many years may be difficult to strip and work. Thoroughly soak the area with water prior to stripping so the soil softens.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.