Building a beautiful garden does not have to be painstaking work. For small space gardeners everywhere, no-dig flower beds are taking over as their new favorite method for creating their dream green space.
Contrary to popular belief, the first step to building a garden no longer has to be tilling the earth’s soil. Tilling the soil is a process that loosens the soil and mixes in the nutrients of compost with the previous year’s decomposing plants. While good soil will forever be the foundational key to a successful flower bed, there are contemporary gardening methods that take the back-straining work out of the process.
Garden Preparation Is Key
Before it is time to begin planting flowers, there are some important steps to complete that will ensure optimal success for your flower bed potential; no shovel necessary. By taking the time to plan and prepare, you will be able to fully enjoy the planting and gardening stages without running into any problems that could have been worked out ahead of time.
Where Will Your Flower Bed Go?
Before you can fully enjoy your beautiful flower bed, first you must decide where it will bloom! This is an exciting and creative step to start your vision.
If you are setting up a brand new flower bed, even if it is a raised constructed bed, deciding the location of your flower garden is an imperative decision. You will want to check and make sure that there are no utility or irrigation lines buried underneath your desired location. Your local government will be able to provide the most helpful contact to confirm the location of lines underground.
If you are looking for location inspiration, there are plenty of ways to add flower beds around your home that will elevate your space. If you have a standing mailbox, planting a flower bed around it will make receiving snail mail all the cheerier. Line your walkways, plant underneath trees, along a fence, or around your porch or balcony.
The depth of your flower bed is also important because you need to make sure your plants have enough room to root down and flourish! Make sure your flower bed is at least 12 inches deep. A raised flower bed will have a protective bottom, whether that be a layer of plywood, landscape fabric, or heavy sheeting to keep the soil from spreading out of the raised bed and discoloring any nearby concrete.
You will want to build your flower bed in a place that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight daily. Orienting your plants north to south will help prevent them from accidentally shading each other. Beds should be at least one foot wide, though no more than four feet across. Six to eight feet long is a typical and cost-effective length.
Flower Bed Material
Using wood planks to construct your flower bed is a great building strategy. Each plank that acts as an individual wall is easily replaceable. Look out for naturally rot-resistant wood varieties. Examples of this are oak, cedar, and redwood.
If you are looking to utilize flower bed building material other than wood, there are endless options to explore to create the flower bed of your dreams. The wattle method involves weaving long and flexible sticks into a picture-worthy layered structure. Logs that are at least one foot in diameter can be used in lieu of traditional planks. The negative spaces inside of concrete blocks provide extra growing room.
Also, constructing a waist-high flower bed is an excellent option to make flower tending accessible for those who have physical limitations that could typically inhibit gardening.
The Importance Of Good Soil
Good soil preparation lays a solid foundation on which your plants will thrive. Good soil promotes root health, and healthy roots mean a happy and healthy plant. If there is a poor root system, the plant will not be able to grow to its fullest potential, leaving it vulnerable to insects and disease.
Defining Your Bed
To define the outline of your flower bed, there are many temporary marking solutions that will set up your space without leaving lasting impressions. Define the perimeter of your desired flower bed using a garden hose, white flour, or white chalk.
Once you have determined your spacing, you can then cover the area with newspaper. Be sure to only use black and white pages, not any full-page color ads, as the color ink will change the chemical breakdown of the soil as it breaks down. Cover the newspaper with compost and wait several months. The grass will decompose into 6-8 inches of topsoil primed for flower growth.
Wait for Your Soil to Be in Optimal Condition
Building a no-digging required flower bed harnesses the natural forces of the weather and soil inhabitants. This is a process that can be started at any time of the year, but beginning in the fall will allow the soil to develop over the wintertime. By the time it is late spring or early summer, also known as the growing season, your soil will be in an optimal planting condition.
Give your flower bed soil about three to six months to fully develop before it is ready for planting. To check for doneness, use a trowel to dig down to the soil level and see if there is any newspaper left. If there is, let your bed sit for a few more weeks and check again. Once the soil is ready for planting, you can choose to install a drop irrigation system or a soaker hose before adding any flowers. Then, you can sow seeds or transplant annuals and perennials that will create an immaculate and colorful display to enjoy.
The consistency of your soil will greatly impact the ability for your plants to thrive. You want your soil to be damp, but not wet. If it is too wet, the soil will clump. If the soil is too dry, it will be difficult to dig and will lose its nutritional value for the plants survival. If you use a spade to break apart your soil, it should look moist without sticking to the tools or releasing drops of water. Break up and turn over your soil.
Caring for Your Soil
Adding compost to your soil will help retain both its moisture and nutrients. Compost helps to protect the soil structure at a molecular compound level. Using compost helps to make the soil less likely to erode, as well as prevents plant disease. The best thing you can do for your soil is to consistently add organic matter into the mixture. This practice will enrich the soil and help you to grow strong, healthy, and thriving plants.
Once your soil is turned over, you can then spread a layer of organic matter or compost around 2-3 inches thick over your flower bed. Then, turn over the soil again to mix the compost into the soil. Take care to avoid compost that is extremely fine or sand-like in its consistency. The desirable texture of compost is large chunks that are made up of smaller particles.
Now that your flower bed is prepped and ready, it is time to decide what flowers to plant! Take some time to research what plants tend to do well in your climate, as different plants need different things. Consider their exposure to sunlight and if you need to choose plants that can thrive in the shade or not. It is also important to factor in the time of year you will be planting, as different plant varieties can reach their optimal growth potential across all four seasons.
Along with determining your flower's color schemes, you will also want to consider the height and density of your plants of choice. As each flower holds a special symbolic meaning, you might want to dive in and explore which plants complement your zodiac sign. Before planting, it is a helpful idea to sketch a blueprint to play around with ideas. Mixing around plant heights and colors will lead to the larger final picture of a beautiful flower bed that will take your space to the next level.
A personalized and handcrafted flower bed is a thoughtful and special gardening project for yourself, a loved one, or both. Taking the time to build a flower bed from scratch is an act of determination and care. It is a great way to show love for the beauty of nature as well as being a touching gift for someone else. What better way to tell someone you love them than with a specially crafted flower bed?