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How to Prepare New Flower Beds

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017

Adding a flower bed to your landscape creates a beautiful outdoor decorative addition to your home. This decision involves considerable effort to prepare the garden plot and maintain the plantings to create the best possible environment for your plants. New flower beds require removal of existing plants or grass and amendments to the soil to encourage healthy growth and limit weed growth.

Prepare the flower bed by digging with the spade at least 6 inches deep to remove existing grass and roots from the garden site. Remove weeds by digging down to remove the entire root. Transplant undesirable plantings from the proposed garden.

Use the spade shovel to turn over the top 10 to 12 inches of soil by scooping out a section of soil and flipping the shovel over. Proceed through the entire garden to loosen the top layers. Tilling or turning over the garden encourages absorption of additives such as peat moss, compost and mulches. Use a rototiller for no more than one to two passes through the garden to prevent creating powdered soil.

Use the shovel and rake to break up clumps of dirt. Hose down extremely dry, lumpy soil to make working with the dirt easier. Remove rocks and rake the entire surface of the garden to a uniform level.

Remove plant debris, roots and grass clumps during the smoothing process to discourage the reappearance of unwanted plants in the new flower bed.

Spray the surface of the flower bed lightly with water to facilitate the mixing of dirt with the powdery peat moss. Gauge the correct amount of water by grabbing a handful of soil and shaping it into a ball. If the ball crumbles into small chunks, moisture levels are correct. Overly wet soil will retain the round shape. Allow the soil to dry for a day if necessary.

Pour a 2- to 3-inch layer of peat moss over the freshly turned-over soil. Spread the peat evenly across the surface of the garden using the rake.

Turn over the garden a second time using the tiller or shovel to mix the peat moss into the top 10 to 12 inches of loosened soil. Adding peat moss to the new flower bed encourages proper drainage, improves soil nutrient content and breaks up clay soils. Peat also benefits plants by helping the soil retain an even temperature.

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost to the top surface of the garden. Allow this compost to sit for two weeks before planting to allow plenty of time for nutrients to leach down into the soil.


Things You Will Need

  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Spade shovel
  • Trowel
  • Rake
  • Garden hose and water
  • Peat moss
  • Compost


  • The best time to prepare a new flower bed is the season before planting to allow time for the compost, peat and other additives to create nutrient-rich soil for your plants.