Do you have a blank space in your yard waiting for some color? You can fill it by creating an easy flower bed in a short time! Read on for my lessons learned while creating a planter bed.
One summer I made a flower bed in our backyard and I’ve been thinking about what I would do differently. Part of my motivation to create the bed was to eventually have plants large enough to camouflage a very large cistern. The forsythia I planted in front of the cistern did not survive, and the trellis I had planned to build in front of the cistern hasn’t happened.
Aside from those misses, the flower bed and plants are doing well, and I did manage to create a trellis on the fence (click here for that tutorial). This tutorial is written in hindsight, which is good for you, as you will benefit from my lessons learned! The way I’ve written the tutorial differs from the way I actually completed it.
Before this I had never made a flower bed and I was sort of winging it as I went! I tried to make note of these differences, as some of my photos will seem to contradict my words.
1. Identify area for flower bed.
Once you have selected where you will make your flower bed, measure the width and length to determine how much of the materials you will need. Consider the shape you will make as you plan for materials.
The Vigoro edge kit I used includes 50 feet of edging. I made a curved edge, which takes more material than a straight edge. We have two very large trees in the yard, a cedar and a pine. With these trees in mind, I decided to try to create a woodland flowerbed and thought curves would seem more soft and natural.
2. Gather materials.
3. Clear area of weeds.
This task can be done however you like best. I didn’t get the hoe pictured until after this project was completed. At the time I used whatever small shovel was on hand. But this Nisaku hoe makes weeding so easy and I wish I had it for this project.
4. Rake soil to create a level area.
Once all the weeds are lifted, I tossed them into a Home Depot bucket. Then I raked the soil to make the surface level.
5. Lay out weed barrier landscape fabric.
After leveling the soil, I put the weed barrier fabric in place. I used rocks as temporary holders while I rolled it out and then used the garden staples to secure the edges to the ground . To cover the width of the flower bed I placed two pieces of the fabric side by side and pinned them to the ground with the staples.
6. Place edging under landscape fabric.
As I rolled out the edging I used rocks as temporary holds until I found the lay out I liked. The edging was really easy for a novice like me to work with; it is easy to cut and easy to connect.
7. Use the anchoring spikes to secure edging by piercing a spike into the edging holes.
8. Hammer spikes into the ground with a mallet.
After hammering spikes and nails to secure edging, trim off any excess fabric. I save my fabric scraps to line bottoms of plant pots.
9. Cut holes into landscape fabric for plants.
The holes should be about double the width of the pots so there is enough room to dig. I’ve seen others slash the fabric so there are flaps to lift when planting.
10. Plant your plants in the spaces with cut outs.
So I actually did things backwards- I planted plants and then laid the weed barrier and edging. The first summer in our house, I wanted some flowers in the backyard so bad. However, before I could think of planting there was a huge pile of demolished house parts that needed to be removed.
By the time I broke down the pile, summer was winding down. I couldn’t wait to create a proper flower bed and I just stuck plants in the ground! Luckily all but one plant survived.
I don’t recommend this working backward method! When I got around to laying the weed barrier, I had to do major weeding all over again. Sigh.
11. Empty mulch onto landscape fabric.
In the photo I’m tossing out the mulch by hand, but initially you can just dump the bag out on the fabric. The edging is a good indicator for filling in the mulch, just fill to the top of the edging. I left about 4 inches of soil uncovered around the base of the plants.
12. Rake mulch over the length of the landscape fabric.
After raking out the mulch, go back to fill in areas where fabric is showing. In the photo above, you can see that I laid out the mulch before I installed the edging. Why you ask? I don’t really remember. Maybe I hadn’t decided what type of edging I wanted to use, maybe I hadn’t had time to go buy the edging. A lot of this project was worked on while my son napped and even if I was missing materials, I would complete what I could, and sometimes that meant steps were out of sequence.
13. Place rocks in front of the edging.
All of the rocks were found from digging around in my yard! As I was digging for various projects, I would set aside the rocks as I found them. At the time I didn’t know how I would exactly use them. Once I had the edging in place I thought the rocks would be a nice compliment to the woodland theme I was going for.
The plants finally got the proper flower bed they deserved! The rocks I used along the front of the edging aren’t attached in anyway. Some kids like to head straight for them and start to move them.
Other than that, the bed has maintained good condition.
The weed barrier fabric is a great investment! It has saved me so much time. As the plants continue to mature I can add in some small plants in front, close to the rocks. I may move the hydrangea to another area. However, those tasks are down the road. For now, it’s nice to have one patch of the yard done!
The great thing about this project is that you can customize to your needs. You can make the bed as big or small as you like.
Frequently asked questions about creating a planter bed.
What can I use instead of weed barrier fabric? Instead of spending money on the barrier fabric, some people use old tarps or old drop cloths. Newspapers and cardboard are other budget-friendly options.
What else can I use to edge a flower bed? For the edge I used rocks I dug up around my yard, which I realize not everyone has. Alternative edge choices could be old bricks, blocks or chunks of cement. These items are often listed on sites like Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace etc.
How can I buy plants cheaply? Once your planter bed is ready, you must fill it with plants! However, the price of plants can quickly add up. Nurseries often have sales and even clearance sections. Our local arboretum has a nursery with donated plants at very good price points. Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace are good resources as well.
Have you made your own flower beds? Did you use any materials you already had? Share in comments! Thanks for reading!
Materials for creating a planter bed.
Click on the photos below to shop. The Vigoro kit I used for the planter bed is linked. To ensure the plastic edge is secure, I purchased extra staples and stakes.
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