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How to Shape and Edge a Garden Bed

Besides serving as the home to vegetables and flowers, garden beds are also important to your yard's curb appeal. Varying in sizes and shapes, garden beds can create dimension and instantly transform the appearance of your landscape using different angles and lines. However, it's important to make sure the overall design of your beds complements your home and the makeup of your outdoors - rather than competes with them.
Whether you're creating a new garden bed or reworking an existing one, learn how to shape and edge your garden bed to achieve a look that seamlessly ties your yard together.


Step 1:

Decide what you will be growing in your garden. Knowing the size and growth needs of plants will help determine your garden's scale and location. If you're short on space, this step can also help you prioritize which plants make the most sense. Keep in mind that shrubs, trees and ground covers typically require more space than perennial flowers and vegetables.

Step 2:

Select an area for your garden bed. If you're starting from scratch, choose an area that provides all the environmental needs your plants will require - like appropriate sun exposure, good drainage and proper soil. It's also important to be aware of and avoid any underground electrical wires, pipes or structures (e.g., a watering system) that may interfere with equipment like tillers and edgers, as well as plants' root systems.

Step 3:

Prep the space. If you want to expand or rework an existing bed, you should first remove any existing edges or borders from the bed before creating a new edge design. You should also remove any large objects that may hinder the design process.

Step 4:

Design the shape. Using a hose, make an outline of the desired shape of your bed; adjust the shape as needed. It's best to keep curves smooth and natural rather than creating abrupt arcs that may look uneven and forced. After you achieve a shape you like, spray paint (with a bright color) over the hose to create a concrete outline for edging.

Step 5:

Edge. Following the outline, use an edger like the TB554 Gas Lawn Edger to deliver a clean, precise edge and cut around your bed. You can also use a half-moon edger for smaller beds. Next, dig a trough along the edges for added definition. The depth and width of the edge depends on the height and thickness of the border materials, if any are being used. For easy maintenance, borders should be set low to the ground for easier mowing. If you prefer a higher standing border, string trimmers are best for maintenance. Edges can be cut in (with an edger), or created with common materials like natural stones or bricks.

Step 6:  

Clean up. Now that the skeleton of your garden bed has been established, it's time to clean up the inside of the bed. Pull out weeds, loose debris, sticks and any unwanted plants to be sure you have a clean slate for planting. If you're working with an existing bed, you should also remove old mulch, which can build up and become too thick from layering over the years, hindering soil composition and plant growth.

Step 7:

Till. Once you've cleaned the garden bed, use a tiller to prep the bed for planting. To prevent additional mulch buildup, use a 50/50 mix of compost and mulch, or alternate between bark mulch and a compost mulch. The main goal is to have a fresh layer of mulch, but also encourage the mulch to properly break down and become good garden soil. This will happen with time as the soil naturally shifts and earthworms move through it. You can promote a good balance by also using compost as a top dressing, with nutrients leaching down into the soil with watering.