The Q&A Archives: Landscaping flower bed in front yard

Question: I would like to see a way i can cut a flower bed in my front yard. I live in Cleveland,Ohio.

Answer: To start a new flower bed you have several options as to how to remove the existing sod/lawn grass once you have determined the outline or perimeter of the flower bed. One is to rent a sod cutter which strips off a thin layer of sod and topsoil. This is a heavy tool to operate and requires some strength to use. Another is to use a sharp flat spade to dig it out by hand, shaking the soil off the roots as you go. Compost the bits of grass and sod in your compost pile. Another is to use a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate. Read and follow all of the label directions if you do this, and be sure to wait the full waiting period prior to removing the dying vegetation. Each of these methods then requires that you add organic matter and loosen the soil prior to planting. It is a good idea to allow a week or two for the soil to settle after you do that so you can relevel it prior to planting.

Yet another technique is to smother the existing growth. To do this, thoroughly cover the area with a layer of newspaper about five sheets thick and overlapped at the edges to block out the light. (Dampening the paper helps keep it in place while you work.) Then cover that with organic material such as compost, chopped rotting leaves, barnyard manure and bedding, and traditional mulch. Wait several months for this to decompose, then you will be able to work it into the soil and plant. This last method has the added benefit of retaining all of the existing top soil and also adding a large amount of the organic matter which is so beneficial to a flower bed. If you did this now, the bed would be ready to plant in early September.

You will also need to edge your flower bed to keep lawn grasses from growing into it. The traditional method is to do a cut edge using a sharp flat spade or a special edger blade. You cut a vee shaped wedge wider at the top. Or, you can use an edger material such as the pounded in strips, bricks, or stones. These basically serve as a mower guide and/or decorative accent. I hope this gives you some ideas.

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