How to Build a New Flowerbed the Easy Way

I ordered bulbs. Why did I do that? I have no room to plant any more bulbs-according to my husband, anyway. So what’s a gardener to do when there are things like bulbs to plant and no place to plant them? Build a new flowerbed. Oh joy!

But that’s hard work to kill grass, dig out and double till the hardpan dirt, which my yard seems to be right now from our very dry summer and fall. Yours too? So how can we make this chore an easy one?

Build a new flowerbed - the easy way.

How about we make a lasagna bed? If you haven’t read about lasagna gardening, it’s much like making lasagna where many layers are laid down and some repeated. And I simply wedge those precious bulbs into the layers as we build a new flowerbed.

Mother Earth News says lasagna gardening is “an easy method of gardening that lets you accomplish more with less work.” 

This method can also be called sheet composting or layer gardening. Whatever it is called, it creates light, fluffy dirt as the elements “cook” and break down into a delightful bed rich in organic matter that is so easy to work in.

An easy way to build a new flowerbed.

Start with defining the new location. I use a garden hose or spray paint to outline the area and either build an edge to the bed or let the edge slope off.

Then lay down broken down cardboard boxes. Moving boxes are perfect if you have recently moved or ask a local store to share their boxes with you. Remove all the plastic tape and simply lay the cardboard directly on top of the ground. Yes, even if there is grass there because the cardboard helps smother and kill grass. Use 3 to 5 layers of newspapers if you don’t have cardboard boxes.

Next step is to thoroughly wet this area to speed decomposition and keep everything where you want it. Then alternate layers of brown and green stuff until it is built up to 18 to 24 inches high.

Brown stuff is dead material like fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat moss and pine needles. Yes, we have ready access to much of these now, making fall the perfect time to build a new bed using this layering method.

Green stuff is living and includes your grass clippings, garden trimmings and vegetable scraps. You know, all the goodies you’ve tossed into a pile in hopes of creating compost along with all the brown dead stuff.

Actually, anything you would put into a compost pile can be added to your bed. I even include smashed eggshells, pecan shells, used tea bags, coffee ground and filters too. The great thing is you can do this method with whatever you have on hand. It will reward you by rotting into crumbly dirt!

I top with a layer of dirt (yep, I do purchase a few inexpensive bags of garden soil for this top layer) to plant my fall and winter flowers in. Consider snapdragons, ornamental kales and/or cabbages and pansies or whatever you prefer. Then mulch as you would any other bed.

Voila! You just learned how to build a new flowerbed that will be a joy now and for many years to come. Oh by the way, the bed will shrink as everything decomposes so plan to add new mulch each year.

If you are a vegetable gardener and want a fall/winter garden, this method works too. Build your bed as described above and tuck in your favorite winter vegetable transplants to the top layer. Top with mulch. If you live up north, put a cold frame over it.

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PS-Did you know I’m a Master Gardener? You can usually find dirt under my fingernails, especially in the spring and fall, when it’s most fun to have my hands in the dirt…