How To Make A Raised Flower Bed
Annual bedding plants, planted in properly prepared beds, are the perfect choice for adding splashes of seasonal, vibrant color in your landscape garden. Most all annual bedding plants prefer good drainage, so the best way to plant them in the garden is in "raised beds", or "raised mounds". Raised beds do not require edging or lumber, though edging may help to define the bed. Below are step-by-step instructions that can help you create the best performing and best looking flower beds in the neighborhood!
Tools you'll need:
- Garden Rake / Hard Rake
- Round Point or Flat Shovel
- Leaf Rake
- Roto Tiller (Optional)
STEP 1 - Start by outlining the shape of your new flower bed on the ground with spray paint, baking flour, or a garden house. You can create any shape you want: round, pie-shape, square, rectangular, triangular, peanut, kidney bean, oblong, etc..
STEP 2 - Then spray any grass or weeds growing inside the outlined area with a solution of a glyphosphate-based weed killer, such as Hi-Yield Killzall or Roundup. Your local nursery and garden center will carry these products or you can buy weed and grass killers here online. Wet all foliage of grass and weeds thoroughly with weed killer allowing 2 hours to dry completely. Always wear protective clothing and eyewear when spraying any chemical and follow mixing and application instructions on the product label.
STEP 3 - Using a pointed shovel, trench around the outline of the flower bed to a depth of about 6", throwing dirt from trench into a pile at the center region of the flower bed. Then till or turn the area inside the flowerbed to a depth of 6 inches or so.
STEP 4 - Then, evenly disperse equal amounts of a light professional potting mix and a soil conditioner or compost, such as mushroom compost or bagged top soil or potting soil, over the tilled soil. Till or turn these amendments into the soil. For larger beds, it might be necessary to bring in extra native top soil to raise your annual flower bed to a minimum height of 6" height at the center of the bed. You may also add other amendments to the mix, such as vermiculite, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion ect.. The main thing you are trying to do is create a soil mixture that will be somewhat light, well-drained, but still hold moisture evenly.
STEP 5 - After thoroughly tilling or turning in the amendments, use a garden rake for larger beds or your hand or a small hand rake for smaller beds to form a mound that will be 4 to 6 inches or more in height at the center and gradually tapered to ground level at the perimeter of the flowerbed. The larger the flowerbed the higher the mound should be. I usually start by raking from the perimeter of the flowerbed inwards towards the center. A leaf rake or your hands can be used to put the finishing smooth touch on the mound. Now you are ready to plant.
STEP 6 - Remove plants from containers and space them over the surface of the planting bed at a distance as suggested on the plant tag. I always start with a row around perimeter of bed and then stagger plants towards the inside of the perimeter row, and so on towards the center until the bed is full.
STEP 7 - Use a hand trowel or your hands to dig planting holes in what should be very soft soil. Its a good idea to loosen roots at the bottom of the root ball before planting. While holding the plant so that the top edge of the rootball is level with the soil surface, gently backfill around the rootball with your soil mixture.
STEP 8 - When all of the plants have been planted you can broadcast weed preventer granules over the surface of bed for season-long weed prevention. Most local nursery and garden centers carry these products or you can buy a weed preventer for flowerbeds online here.
STEP 9 - Fertilize your new flower bed with a flower food. I always use a slow-release flower food that provides season-long feeding. Alternatively you can feed them more regularly with a liquid flower food. Pansies, a winter flowering bedding plant, should be fertilized with a specialty Pansy Food containing "nitrate" form nitrogen.
NOTE - If you are really serious about the performance of your annual bedding plants, get a professional soil test through your Local Extension Service. This will tell you two critical details about your soil quality; pH and fertilizer needs. For many bedding plants, ideal soil pH is between 5.6 and 5.8.