The Q&A Archives: Renovating Flowerbeds

Question: I currently have a flower bed with nothing but dirt in it. I want to create a border, as well as to build it up a little for some curb appeal. What do I need besides dirt to get it ready to plant? Also, what KIND of dirt?

Answer: You can renovate that flower bed and make it look spectacular! You'll want to start by improving the soil with organic matter. While this may sounds like a really labor intensive step, it's very important. With nicely improved soil, practically anything you plant will thrive and the beds will be trouble free for years to come. Begin by removing any existing vegetation. I like to start at one end and dig into the soil, removing any weeds I unearth, roots and all. Once you've gotten all debris out of the bed, you can purchase top soil (usually called 3 in 1 mix if you're buying in bulk, or if the area is small you can purchase topsoil in bags). Once the topsoil is in the bed, rake it smooth and cover the entire bed with 4-5" of organic matter (compost, aged manure, etc.) and dig it into the soil to a depth of about 8". After digging in the organic matter, rake the bed level and then choose your plants. I would use potted plants (available in flats or six-paks, if you want to keep the cost down). After planting, cover the bare soil with another few inches of organic mulch material to help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. The plants you choose will depend upon whether the beds get sunshine or shade. Try planting both annuals and perennials, and remember to place the tallest or largest plants in the back of the bed, graduating down to the lowest plants. You can have a riot of color in just a few months. Enjoy!

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