Adding a flowerbed to an existing lawn has many advantages. As well as giving you space to grow plenty of fabulous foliage or delicious food crops, flowerbeds can help to aid drainage, increase important wildlife visitors and even boost the value of your property.
If you’re keen to add a flowerbed to your lawn, it’s not as daunting as it may sound. With careful planning and preparation, you can transform your garden in a few simple steps.
Keep reading to find out how to dig a flowerbed and how to make a raised bed on a lawn.
Preparing a flower bed
Before you dig the spade out, there are a few things to consider when planning a new flower bed:
- Think about your soil type, heavy clay soils can be notoriously tricky to dig so you’ll need to arm yourself with some effective digging tools.
- Observe your garden at different times of the day to help you select the best spot for your new bed.
- Check for any utility lines or irrigation pipes that might be running under the soil line.
Once you’ve decided on a suitable location and ensured there aren’t any surprises lurking beneath the soil, you’re ready to go. There are 3 main types of flowerbeds; a flowerbed that’s dug into existing grass, a flowerbed that’s created on top of existing grass and a raised bed.
How to make a flower bed over grass
If your lawn is a pristine blank canvas and you’d like to create a new flowerbed, you’ll need to make sure all grass is removed before digging over the soil and adding plants. Any remaining grass seeds or shoots can regrow so it’s well worth taking the time to do a thorough job. Here’s our step-by-step guide to making a flowerbed in a lawn:
1. Dig up part of your lawn
Once you’ve chosen the location for your flowerbed, you’ll need to mark the area of the flowerbed out on the grass.
You can use spray paint or flour to mark the lines. If you’re creating a curved or circular flowerbed, you can have someone stand on a piece of twine or rope as an anchor, either in the centre for a circular bed or at the edge for a curved bed.
You can create an accurate arc by walking around and pulling the string taut, holding the can of paint against the string and spraying the ground as you go. You can also tie rope or string to a peg and push it firmly into the soil to use as an anchor if you are working alone.
You can also use a garden hose to mark out the edge of a flowerbed, but using a stake, string and marking paint will give you a more pleasing result.
You can use a garden edging tool or sharp spade to slice around the perimeter of the flowerbed. If you’re digging up a large area, it’s useful to break the turf up into manageable sections by scoring lines along it. You can then lift pieces out with a shovel.
Avoid the mistake I always make which is putting far too much turf into a large bucket and then not being able to move it! Turf, especially when wet, is heavy stuff!
Once the grass is removed, you’ll need to turn the soil over to a depth of at least 12 inches. If it hasn’t rained for a while, make sure to water the soil first. Add a couple of inches of compost and work this into the soil. Then cover the bed with a thick layer of mulch to prevent weeds from germinating.
2. Make a garden bed over grass without digging
This no-dig flowerbed method is the easiest way to create a flowerbed on an existing lawn. Before you begin, you’ll need to make sure you have a stack of old newspapers or cardboard and plenty of compost and mulch to hand.
First, you’ll need to mark out the edge of your flowerbed. If you’re planning to add any large trees or shrubs to this flowerbed, you can do so now by planting them straight into the existing grass. Make sure that you plant them slightly above the soil level.
Next, place several sheets of newspaper, at least 6 pages thick, or cardboard over the whole flowerbed area. Give the newspaper or cardboard layer a good soaking with a garden hose before covering it with an inch and a half of compost. Soak again and then add at least 2 inches of mulch on top of the compost.
You can now plant straight into the flowerbed. Smaller plants can go into the compost layer, you can just cut into the cardboard or newspaper for larger plants. This method will work well whether you’re creating a flower or vegetable garden bed.
If you don’t want mulch spilling out onto the rest of your lawn, dig a shallow trench around the edge of the flowerbed before you add the paper, compost and mulch.
3. Build a raised bed on grass
Raised beds are a popular option in vegetable gardens and allotments. They’re an excellent alternative to in-ground flowerbeds if you have poor soil because you can control exactly what soil is added to the bed.
If you’d like to create an attractive raised bed over grass, there are a few ways to remove the grass within the raised bed frame before filling it with compost:
- Remove the grass with a shovel
- Use an organic clove and cinnamon oil solution to smother the grass which will take a couple of weeks.
- Use the newspaper technique described above to smother the grass.
Once the grass below the frame has been removed or covered over, fill the frame with good quality compost, either from your homemade compost heap, or purchase it from a garden centre.
Click here for more raised bed gardening ideas.
Lawn Bed Tips
Creating a lawn bed is an excellent way to make your garden more attractive, increase wildlife and even improve your health and well-being as you tend to it.
Here are our top tips for creating and maintaining your new lawn bed:
- Use spray paint or flour for marking out the edge of your new flowerbed. Flour can easily be brushed or washed away so is helpful if you’re unsure about the exact dimensions.
- You can edge your flowerbed to create a neat finish and help stop soil from spilling onto the surrounding grass. Bricks, wooden sleepers, logs and cobblestones are all attractive options.
- Add a layer of mulch to your new flowerbed. It will help to suppress weeds, retain moisture and improve the soil. It looks fantastic too.
- If you’re planting flowers, it’s worth creating a plan of what will go where. Make sure to include a mixture of annuals, perennials and colourful winter plants for year-round interest.
- For larger flowerbeds, pick plants of different heights and layer them, with the smallest at the front and the tallest at the back of the bed. If you’re planting up a circular bed, place the tallest plants in the centre.
Now you know how to create a flowerbed over a lawn from scratch, you can enjoy planning, preparing and planting it up.