A flower bed full of beautiful blooms: what better way to add color, life, and interest to your garden? When it comes to choosing your flower bed plants, the options are nearly endless, but the actual building of your flower bed is a more straightforward process. It just takes a little thought, planning, and preparation.
How to Prepare a Flower Bed
There are a few things to consider before building or digging a flower bed.
Where will the bed go? You can build a flower bed in front of your house, in the backyard, along the property fence, underneath a tree, or around a garden feature. A touch of living color adds beauty to just about any outdoor area.
How much sunlight does the spot get? Most flower bed plants—particularly annual flowers—require full sun, which means a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day. You can certainly plant a flower bed in a part-sun or mostly shady area, but you'll be a bit more limited in your choice of flowers.
What's the soil like? Most flowering annuals and perennials appreciate good soil. Before starting the planting of your flower bed, you'll want to rake away rocks or debris from the site, break up any large clods of dirt, and add compost or planting soil to enrich the bed and encourage healthy plant growth.
Flower Bed Ideas and Designs
Once you've chosen a site for your flower bed, it's time for the fun part: flower bed design.
When designing a flower bed, you have many options. Here are a few flower bed design ideas to spark your imagination.
- Small flower bed ideas can be in the corner of the yard, the center of your front lawn, near your front entryway, or by your backyard patio.
- Looking for flower bed ideas in front of the house? Wrap a small flower bed around your mailbox, line your front walkway, add color underneath a tree, or surround the bases of the front porch risers.
- Get geometric with a perfectly square, rectangular, circular, or even triangular flower bed design.
- Use a flower bed to block unattractive backyard features such as air conditioners, trash cans, swimming pool heaters, or storage sheds.
- Highlight your patio, front lawn, foundation, or fence with a border of flowers.
Removing Grass and Building the Flower Bed
Unless you are building a flower bed on a spot already without grass, you'll need to remove the turf before planting your flowers. There are two basic ways to remove grass.
How to dig a flower bed: Digging out the grass is a fast process, but hard on your back. Use a shovel to remove a patch of grass from the center of your planned flower bed, then continue to remove turf by wedging the shovel—a hoe also works—under the edges of the grass. Then lift and peel the sod away. Once the grass is gone, you can prepare the soil for planting your flower bed.
How to make a flower bed without digging: Removing grass without digging is the lengthy-but-easy method. Simply cover the entire area to be transformed into a flower bed with sheets of newspaper. Layer the paper at least five pages deep, then cover the newspaper with several inches of rich soil or compost. Water well. Over the next few months, the buried grass will die, and the newspaper will eventually decompose while adding nutrients to the soil. In four or five months, your new flower bed will be ready for soil preparation.
Keep your new flower bed under control with an edging of stones, bricks, or wood. Some quirky flower bed trim ideas are glass bottles, large seashells, or curved steel.
Another option is building a raised flower bed. There are a few ways to do this. You can frame a raised flower bed yourself with wood boards cut to the desired length. This lets you build a flower bed in whatever shape or size you desire. But if you prefer the simplest solution, there are raised flower bed kits that supply everything you need, and easily snap together with no need for sawing or hammering. Most kits create fairly small squares or rectangles, however, so you'll give up the ability to tailor your raised flower bed to your liking.
If you're going to build your raised flower bed on top of existing grass, first cover the turf with a few sheets of newspaper, then top the paper with good-quality planting mix, and finish off with a layer of compost.
A raised flower bed built on top of concrete or another hard surface needs a protective bottom layer of plywood, landscape fabric, or heavy plastic sheeting to keep soil from slowly spreading out of the raised bed and discoloring the concrete.
Flower Bed Plants
You designed your flower bed, you removed the grass, you prepared the soil, and you edged your soon-to-be-planted site: Now it's time to plant your flower bed.
There are nearly as many flower bed plants as there are gardeners to dream up flower bed ideas. You'll want to choose flowers that do well in your climate, of course, and are suited to your flower bed's location and exposure to sunlight. But beyond that, the best flowers are the ones you love the most.
- Low-growing annuals such as sweet alyssum, lobelia, and impatiens work well as flower bed border plants.
- Add zing to flower bed designs in the front of the house with a colorful mixture of varied-height beauties like zinnias, snapdragons, stock, or marigolds.
- Tall flowers, including sunflowers, hollyhocks, and cosmos, are perfect for a small flower bed design around the steps to your front porch or along a property fence.
- Raised flower bed planting ideas include a center row of tall and medium-height blooms with a border of cascading flowers like bacopa, ivy geranium, moss rose, or calibrachoa.
- Other flower bed plant ideas include a garden of single-color flowers, a patriotic mix of red-white-and-blue blooms, a pastel flower bed, or a "moon garden" planted entirely in white flowers.
Building a flower bed from scratch might seem intimidating, but actually, it's a fairly easy project that just about any enthusiastic DIYer or gardener can master. The time spent in planning, designing, and preparing will be repaid many times over once you're admiring your beautiful blooms.