How to revitalize an existing flower bed

flower bed with mulchSpring Fever.  Is it a real thing?   Well if it is, it definitely hit me last week.  The weather warmed up here and we all started wearing shorts and flip flops.  Our dogs hung out in the yard all afternoon and laid in the sunshine.  My daylilies and tulips started to peek up out of the ground!  The trees started to bud!!!!  Birds were chirping and the children were laughing.  I love Spring!

On the West side of our house we have some very simple landscaping that spans about 15-20 feet which we planted a few years ago.  The area consists of a long row of daylilies and a few surviving tulips that I got at the Wichita Botanica Gardens.  During the winter months there is no sign of life.  Last Summer, an abundance of weeds started overgrowing the space.  Because there is no edging, the grass has slowly crept into the area that once was just soil and mulch.

flower bed before

One challenge in choosing plants for this space is they must be able to tolerate the hot afternoon sun and thrive in the heat.  So I found a website that helped narrow down my search for appropriate plants:  The National Garden Association .  In addition to a simple search feature, there is a lot of great information on their site that you should check out.  I used the quick search feature and added my USDA hardiness zone (6) and sunlight requirements.

NGA website

The National Garden Association website

My search on the NGA website turned up pages of options, and I was able to narrow down the list and talk with my local garden center to see what plants they have available.  Here’s what I’m adding:  Butterfly Bush and some berry plants.  I was really excited to find raspberry and blueberry plants!  The berries do well in the hot afternoon sun and my kids will love picking them when the time comes.  I am also adding hyacinth, and will fill in the rest of the bed with annual plants later.

Because of the poor shape this bed was in, here are the steps I took to revitalize my existing flower bed:

  • First, I dug up the daylilies and transplanted them to another location in the backyard.  I also removed my tulip bulbs and put them in temporary pots.  They were replanted with all of the other plants in the final steps.
  • Next, I removed the top layer of soil, dead weeds and as many roots as possible.
  • I added Preen, compost, gypsum, vermiculite, Chickity Doo Doo (yes this stinks really bad!) and garden soil.  Using a shovel and a hoe, I worked this into the bed to give it much needed nutrients and help prevent future weed growth.
  • We then added a rock edger to the border to help keep the grass back and define the garden bed.  This will also help my husband while mowing and keep the weed eater from destroying my hyacinth and tulips!

flower bed with sod

 

  • Next, I put down a layer of weed cloth and cut holes for the new plants.  Hint, hint:  I removed the bricks and pulled the weed cloth under before replacing them.  Hopefully, this will keep the grass from growing in like it has in the past.

flower bed with fabric

 

  • Finally, plant the new plants and add mulch.  When planting shrubs it’s important to dig your hole the depth of the root ball but twice as large.  Then you need to break up the root ball.  This doesn’t mean to just crumble the dirt, but to use pruning scissors and cut the roots at the base pulling them outward.  Otherwise, the roots may entangle themselves and choke the plant.  Finally, I added a root stimulator next to the root ball in the soil.  I used the Bayer Advanced 3 in 1 Tree & Shrub Plant Starter which has a packet that you simply slide in next to the root ball.  Water in your new plants with plenty of water.  Be careful when adding the mulch to keep it on top of the weed cloth, and take care when dumping the bag — you don’t want to crush any of your baby plants!

 flower bed with plants                                  flower bed complete

  • When working in the hot sun don’t forget to drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, and keep ibuprofen on hand for the inevitable stiffness and soreness!

 

This project took about three days, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.  It’s going to take some time for the plants to fill in, but I also plan to add some annual flowering plants in a few weeks after the danger of frost has passed.   Do you have spring fever too???? What spring garden projects are on your to-do list?

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