how to dig up a flower bed

How To Dig Up A Flower Bed

In this article we look at the different ways you can go about digging up a flower bed. We cover what to do if you have an existing flower bed with plants already growing in it and if you don’t have an existing flower bed how to go about creating one which will best suit your needs.

If You Want To Re Plant An Existing Flower Bed

If you have an existing flower bed but it is overgrown and you want to start a new flower bed, first you need to remove what has been growing in there. If you want to save some of the flowers you should carefully remove them by digging around them with a flat spade.

Once you have dug out all the plants, you should separate them into two piles. What you will replant and what you don’t want to replant.

The plants you want to replant should have plenty of soil around their roots and should be placed somewhere nice and cool. It is a good idea to put a bag around their roots to stop them from drying out. Or you could temporarily replant them somewhere else until you are ready for them.

The plants you removed from the flower bed which you no longer want can be offered to your friends and family or they can be mulched up and put into your compost heap.

If You Want To Create A New Flower Bed

If you don’t have a flower bed right now but you would like to make your own, I have a few tips to think about before you begin.

You should take a walk around your property and find the most suitable place to site it. It should be somewhere not too far out of reach as you will want to be able to tend to it, water it, and weed it occasionally.

Take into consideration how much light you want it to get, do any nearby trees or walls cast a shadow on it for extended periods of time throughout the day. Do the plants you want to put into it require a lot of sunlight or shade?

You should also note if the area you intend to dig is over a water pipe or electricity connection/ utility lines.

Draw Out Your Design On Paper

Before you begin to make your flower bed you should make a quick sketch to be aware of its size and shape in relation to the surrounding area. If you know the type of plants you want to put in it, that will also be helpful when considering the design as some plants can grow quite large.

To mark out the flower bed, you can use a can of marker spray paint or your garden hose, this will help you get a feel for how it will look before you dig your first sod. When you are happy with the design you can begin by digging around the perimeter of the flower bed the width of the spade to mark its shape.

It is a good idea to remove the top couple of inches of grass and roots from the flower bed to leave you with clean bare soil.

Next, you should assess the condition of the soil in the flower bed. Is it in good condition- does it need more organic material- does it need to be drained?

You should remove all the weeds from the existing soil and create a new edge by going around the outside of your new flowerbed with an edging tool. Remove the grass from the cuttings and put the soil back into the flower bed.

Digging Up A Flower Bed

For most flower beds it is better to add some organic material such as compost (about 4 inches deep over the entire bed) and also some fine stones or sand for drainage to the existing soil (about 1 inch deep). Next the most important part -dig the whole flowerbed at least 6 to 8 inches deep from start to finish. You can use a flat spade and a garden fork to dig the full flower bed a couple of times until the soil is fine.

You should start at one side and dig the spade into the ground as far as it will go, then turn the soil over until the top layer of the soil is lying facing the bottom of the bit you just dug. Then move your spade to the left or right one spade width and dig it in again the full way and turn it upside down.

Breaking Up The Soil

When you have dug the full flower bed in this way you should go to the start again and slice your spade down through the soil in a vertical motion to break up the soil into small pieces. After this step it is advisable to get a garden fork and dig the whole flower bed from start to finish again, breaking any large clod as soil as you go. There should be no soil clods larger than an inch in diameter when you are finished.

If you have a garden rototiller you don’t need to do all this spadework, the rototiller will save you a lot of manual digging. Depending on the size of the flowerbed it takes quite a lot of effort to complete this part, but it is necessary so that the plants you put in have a good base to put their roots into.

Planting Your Flowers Into The Flower Bed

Now you have a great flower bed with fine soil at a good depth to begin planting your plants into. You should organise your plants into the flower bed with the tallest growing ones to the back and the shorter ones to the front, leave at least 6 inches between each plant or more for larger plants.

Finally, cover the top of the newly planted flower bed with wood chippings to stop light allowing encouraging weeds to grow and enjoy!

Recommended tools:

There are not many tools required for this job, a spade or a garden fork is all that is needed to dig up a flower bed.. If you don’t have these basic tools, any garden centre or DIY store will have them.

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