How To Build A Flower Bed - Starting A Flower Bed From Scratch

A Flower Bed Full Of Colorful Flowers
(Image credit: Pauws99)

While starting a flower bed requires some planning and forethought, it's not as difficult as one might think to build a flower bed from scratch. There are many types of flower gardens and no two are ever quite the same. You can plant a flower bed any way you like - big or small, curved or straight, raised or flat - whatever. Flower beds can also be changed as time goes on or as space permits. Let's look at how to create a flower bed.

How to Create a Flower Bed

So you want to build a flower bed. Where do you begin? Before starting a flower bed, you need to plan ahead. Take a stroll around your property and choose a suitable location. 

Take note of available light and nearby structures. Determine the whereabouts of any underground utility lines and the nearest water source. Before you plant a flower bed, you should make a sketch. This is important, as it allows you to play around with ideas, like the size and shape of the flower bed

It will also make it easier when choosing plants, as these should always be compatible to the area. Use a hose, spray paint, or flour to mark out and shape the bed. If building a raised bed, determine the type and amount of edging material as well.

How to Start a Flower Bed

Once you know how to create a flower bed, you're ready to build it. Depending on its location, size, and whether or not containers are used, starting a flower bed often begins with the removal of grass. There are several ways to accomplish this - dig it out, apply herbicide (make this one a last resort) or smother it with cardboard or newspaper.

Digging Out Flower Beds

If you choose to dig out the grass, it will be easier to use a flat shovel. Dig down about 4-5 inches (10-13 cm.) around the bed's perimeter. Include sections inside the bed as well, especially for larger ones. 

Then carefully lift out or peel back the sod. Clear out any debris and loosen the soil, working in organic matter. Add some plants, water thoroughly and mulch generously to keep out weeds. Don't forget to add an attractive border to define the edges.

No-Dig Flower Bed Design

Most people prefer the no-dig approach. It starts with eliminating the grass as in the dig method. While using herbicides can effectively kill grass, it may not be suitable for planting until much later, as most of these are not environmentally friendly.

 However, you can easily remove grass quickly and effectively without the use of harmful chemicals simply by using cardboard or newspaper to smother it out. You can start the no-dig bed in early spring for summer planting or build a flower bed in fall, as grass begins to go dormant. 

Fill the area with cardboard or several layers of newspaper and saturate with water. Add about 6 inches (15 cm.) of compost or rich soil on top with another layer of organic mulch (like straw) on top of this. 

You can plant a flower bed right away if the grass was dug out or within the next season using the no-dig method. Knowing how to start a flower bed, along with careful planning beforehand makes building one as easy as that!

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.