How to Make a Flower Bed for Planting Beautiful Perennials, Annuals, and Beyond


  1. On This Page

    • Choosing a Location

    • Choosing a Layout

    • Making a Flower Bed

    • Raised Garden Bed 

If you want to enhance your home's curb appeal or add seasonal interest to your backyard, a flower garden is the perfect solution. Filled with perennials, annuals, and blooming shrubs, a flower garden adds color and dimension to your landscape—and provides an inviting habitat for essential pollinators, like birds and butterflies.

But if your yard is covered in grass, you may be wondering how to actually start a flower garden. The first task? Making a flower bed. While it's a relatively straightforward project, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you're creating an ideal environment for the flowers you want to grow.

Related: The 11 Most Fragrant Flowers to Plant in Your Garden

Choose a Location for Your Flower Bed

There are a few things you need to consider when choosing a place for your flower bed, like where your yard receives adequate sunlight and has access to proper irrigation.


Look for an area in your yard that gets ample sunlight. "For a cutting garden, you want six to eight hours of sun, because most plants that will be grown in a flower garden are full-sun type of plants," says Beth Syphers, owner of Crowley House Flower Farm and author of the upcoming book Furrow & Flour. With that being said, you may want to choose a location that gets some afternoon shade, as it can protect your blooms from extreme heat during warmer months.


Most flowers prefer loamy, well-draining soil, but this preference varies depending on the variety you want to grow. "Plants will only perform their best when the soil is compatible with their needs," says Roger Davis, outdoor landscape manager at Longwood Gardens. "If you have a very heavy clay soil, it is important to add compost and organic material to increase drainage and reduce compaction." Additionally, doing a soil test to determine the pH will let you know which amendments you should add to your soil.


You will also want the bed to be within reach of your garden hose, to make watering easier. Just make sure you're not knocking the hose into your blooms as you water them, as this may damage the stems. Additionally, consider what the irrigation in your yard is like when choosing your flower bed's location. If you have standing or pooling water, for example, you may want to avoid placing your flower bed there.

colorful flower beds in front of home
colorful flower beds in front of home

Elenathewise / GETTY IMAGES

Decide on a Layout

Once you know where your garden will go, you can decide how you want it to look. The shape and size possibilities are endless and should be tailored to the recommended spacing for the plants you want to include. "Common areas for garden beds include rectangular beds beneath the home's front windows, long beds lining front entryway walkways, and rows of elegant (or even loose), flowing oval or circular shapes along the property's periphery that lend an organic feel," says Jim Putnam, founder of HortTube and Southern Living Plant Collection expert.

How to Make a Flower Bed

After deciding on a location and layout, it's time to get to work on making your flower bed.

1. Remove the Grass

There are a few different methods you can use to remove the grass from your lawn. "There are machines that can be rented to remove the turf which would be handy for large beds," says Davis. Or you can use a trench shovel to lift and peel away the grass, which is easiest to do after a soaking rain.

The longer, but less laborious method is to remove the grass without digging, which can be several ways. "You can solarize the grass by covering it with black plastic," says Putnam. "The heat from the sun will burn the grass—however this method may take about four to six weeks."

Alternatively, you can try sheet mulching with cardboard. "The best way to have a weed-free garden and to keep that grass suppressed is to lay down down layers of cardboard," says Syphers.

  1. Mow the area as short as you can.

  2. Put down at least two layers of ink-free cardboard, overlapping the pieces so no grass is showing.

  3. Add an edge of wood or rock to the garden to ensure grass doesn't creep in.

  4. Water cardboard to start the breakdown.

  5. Add about 6 inches of organic compost or an equal parts blend of garden soil and compost mix. Overtime the cardboard will break down and the grass will die.

  6. Plant flowers right away into the soil or compost.

  7. Continue regular watering.

2. Prepare the Soil

If you remove the grass using a trench shovel or machine, you may need to till the soil to break up any remaining roots. You should also clear the area of any dead leaves or other debris before planting. Next, add in your soil amendments. "For clay soil, you may need to add organic matter, such as compost or manure, for better drainage," says Putnam. "Sandy soil will require the addition of more nutrients and amendments to improve water retention. To improve this type of soil, mix in compost and manure."

3. Lay Down a Weed Barrier

Although this step isn't necessary, adding a weed barrier can save you time and frustration later on. This option is best for gardens prone to really tough weeds, like Canada thistle. A tried-and-true method for preventing weeds is installing landscape fabric between your garden's soil and the mulch. "When it's time to add plants to the garden, holes can be cut in the material to suit the plant's size," says Putnam.

4. Add Your Plants

Now for the fun part: Adding your plants. "For even spacing of the plants, lay them out before planting to get an idea of how they will look once installed," says Putnam. "Be sure to consider a plant's size when mature—often the plants we purchase at the nursery haven't reached their mature height and width."

After deciding where you want to place your plants, remove them from the pot they came in and gently tease the circling roots. Dig a hole the same height as the previous plant pot, place them in the ground, and cover with soil. Water the area generously.

5. Lay Down Mulch

Mulch is important for flower beds because it can help with water retention, weed prevention, and root insulation. "Various types of mulch can be used, including wood chips, hardwood bark, compost, or leaves," says Putnam. Wood chips improve the soil as they break down, while compost does double duty as a fertilizer and mulch. "Leaves can be used whole or shredded as mulch and are perfect for insulating plants in the wintertime," says Putnam. You should mulch your flower bed in early spring and again in the fall.

raised flower bed
raised flower bed

Johner Images / GETTY IMAGES

Raised Garden Bed

Rather than creating an in-ground flower bed, you can opt for a raised bed instead. "A raised flower bed can be an excellent option for an area that does not have ideal soil for planting, or it can also make gardening more accessible," says Putnam.

If you take this approach, start by choosing a design for your raised bed—you can DIY one or go with ready-made containers. "When designing a DIY raised bed, try to keep the width under 4 feet for access to plantings in the center," says Putnam. Fill the bed with soil specifically labeled for a raised bed garden and plant your flowers the same way you would for an in-ground bed. Water generously.