Landscape beds a plain, green yard and provide supple ground for growing perennials, annuals, vegetables, or whatever greenscape you choose to plant. Use your imagination! Beds can be dug to create borders in an outdoor living room, or they may be positioned as “islands” in a sea of green back yard. The shape, size, and location of a landscape bed is really up to you. Then just add edging to add a polished look to any landscape bed, walkway, or patio area. You can trim abed with brick, natural stone, timber, or neat-and-clean black plastic edging. Edging serves the practical purpose of containment, keeping surface material in place so it doesn’t drift off into the yard. Aesthetically speaking, it creates a visual border and provides an opportunity to incorporate hardscape into a landscape design.
Create Landscape Beds
Planting areas should occupy 40 to 50 percent of your total open yard area, so don’t skimp. Of course, you’ll add time to your gardening duties, but more beds means less mowing. Before digging, use your site map to decide where you will place landscape beds. Don’t get boxed into linear designs. Experiment with kidney-shaped beds, or beds that seem to flow like a creek with curved edges. Build in border beds that separate outdoor living spaces, such as a patio, from the rest of the yard. Beds also provide privacy when placed along a property line and planted with screening varieties, such as evergreens.
Once you decide on bed location and shape, check the soil quality of the area by conducting a soil test. That way you can add the correct soil amendments to be sure you’re giving plants the best foundation for growth. Most soil will require amending, and you can do so with organic substances, including: sphagnum peat, wood chips, grass clippings (if you do not use lawn chemicals), straw, or compost. Remember, amendments are mixed into the soil and mulch is placed on the soil, after planting.
In the project shown here, you’ll create a landscape bed with curved edges by using a garden hose to outline the bed shape. This bed features plastic edging, which is installed before amending soil. You can choose any number of edging materials for this project. As always, before you dig, call your local utilities hotline first.
Tip: Choose low-maintenance shrubs and perennials that blossom like clockwork each season. Your nursery can help you with good choices for your area. Go on a weekday afternoon when they aren’t swamped with weekend shoppers.
Installing a Landscape Bed
1. Use a garden hose to outline the planned garden bed area. Remove the ground cover inside the area with a spade.
2. Dig a trench around the perimeter of the bed using a spade. Place plastic lawn edging into the trench and secure it by driving edging stakes into the bottom lip.
3. Till amendments into the soil with a spade and shovel. Test the design and layout of the plants. Install landscape fabric over the entire area, if desired, to inhibit weed growth.
4. Install plant material. Apply a 2 to 3″ layer of mulch over the entire surface. Leave 1 to 2″ of clearance for tree trunks and woody ornamentals to prevent insects and pests from attacking them.