Fix Your Garden In 8 Steps

How to outline your garden

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Sometimes a garden is too much of a mess to be salvaged. Here are the steps to building a new bed or border from scratch.

Step 1: Mark It Out

How to outline your garden

Make your new garden the best it can be. Give it a fun shape with flowing curves or use it to echo the lines of your house. Get it just right by laying out a hose to outline your bed. Once you have the perfect shape, mark the edges with a line of sand or flour.

Editor’s Tip: Always call your local utility companies and get your yard marked before you start digging.

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Step 2: Get Rid of the Grass

rolling out sod

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If you have grass growing in your new garden spot, dig it up with a spade or sod cutter. Or, if you have time to wait, mow that area as low as you can, then cover it with a several-sheet-thick layer of newspaper and several inches of soil or compost. Wait a couple of months for the grass to die.

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Step 3: Dig It Up!

dumping soil into garden bed

Now comes the digging. Dig up or till your new garden, removing any rocks, roots, or other debris. If you have poor soil, now’s also a great time to incorporate organic matter, such as compost. Just dig it in while you work the ground.

Learn about the best garden tools. 

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Step 4: Edge Your New Bed

cutting in edge with shovel

Keep the lawn from crawling into your garden with a good edge. A trench about 8 inches deep and a couple of inches wide will stop even the worst invaders from crossing. Alternatively, sink an edging material around the perimeter of your garden.

Find more tips on installing edging here.

Step 5: Site Your Plants

placing plants in garden bed

Though it takes a little extra time, placing all your plants before you put them in the ground can make a world of difference. This allows you to get the spacing just right and make your plants really will look good next to each other.

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Step 6: Get Planting

adding plants to soil

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When you know all of your plants are in exactly the right spots, plant them in the ground. It’s helpful to loosen or tease the plants’ roots before you put them in the ground, especially if they were rootbound.

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Step 7: Spread Mulch

adding mulch to garden bed

Other than amending the soil, the best thing you can do to keep your new garden healthy and low-maintenance is to spread mulch. A 2-inch-deep layer of shredded wood or other material will do wonders for stopping weeds and helping your soil conserve moisture during times of drought.

Find out what kind of mulch is best for you!

Step 8: Water It In

watering can and planted seedlings

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