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How to Prepare a Flowerbed

A properly prepared flowerbed is vital to a great garden. Well-prepared flowerbeds help with many aspects of a successful garden such as drainage, soil nutrients and discouraging pests and diseases.

Choose size and shape: Visualize what your flowerbed will look like. Consider the size and shape of the bed and what kind of garden look you are going for. A good size for beginners is  3-5 feet wide by 10 feet long. This size is small enough to maintain but large enough to allow for some variety.

Choose a location: Landscape, light/water sources and creatures in your area should all be considered when choosing a location. A sunny environment is best for a wider variety of flowering plants and level ground is easier to work on. You will want to ensure that your flowerbed is close to a faucet for easier watering. Keep in mind what types of creatures might feed on your plants based on where your flowerbed is located. Near a rock wall, log pile (chipmunks, moles) or wooded area (deer, squirrels) can be risky.

Plant selection and placement: Plant selection will be based largely on how much time is required to take care of them (watering, fertilization), what creatures might eat them and the overall look of the flowerbed. If there are deer in your area you should especially try to plant things that are not appetizing to them. Also consider when plants will bloom and try to stagger blooming cycles so that there are always plants flowering in your flowerbed.

Make a quick map of the garden and decide where plants should be placed. Taller plants should typically be placed in the back, adjacent to a wall or in the middle so that they can be viewed all the way around the bed. Plants which require constant attention such as fertilizing, pruning or spraying should be placed where they’re easily accessible without crushing any of the other plants.

Prepare the bed area and soil: Remove any sod or weeds in the flowerbed area. The more thoroughly you do this, the less weeding you will have to do in the long run. A few methods of preparing the soil for planting are to dig it up by hand or use a sod cutter, smother the site with newspaper or cardboard and raise up the bed (add extra soil so it’s above ground level) or use an herbicide. Newspaper or cardboard will rid the soil of what was living in it and the paper will naturally break down. If using an herbicide, ensure that it doesn’t interfere with what you’re going to be planting. Read product instructions carefully before doing this.