Landscape Beds

Creating a Landscape Bed or Border

This section discusses different situations gardeners face in creating new beds and borders in an existing landscape. After you plan and design, the primary job for you, the gardener, is of building the soil. This step is so important you should consider yourself to be a soil builder. For a more detailed explanation of amending our soil and what's needed, refer to the section on Soils.
When renovating or revitalizing new beds or borders, there may be plants in the new planned bed or border you wish to save and reuse in the bed. Water the area, or plants, thoroughly a day or two before removal. Pot in containers and set in a shaded area, being sure roots are not subject to the sun and drying out. If the process of bed reworking occurs over a long period of time, keep the plants watered to allow for as little shock as possible. Disturbing these plants during a dormant season is best, if timing is advantageous.

Amending Landscape Beds

Amending soil for individual beds should be based on choices or decisions you've made during the planning phase, and after receiving your soil analysis. The amount and choice of amendments is determined by your plan for the bed, whether it will be native, low, medium or high water-use. Grouping plants together according to water needs, soil requirements, mature growth, wind protection and temperature sensitivity will simplify your future maintenance.

Installation and Maintenance

After soil preparation, the installation and maintenance of xeric beds is the fun and easy part. By this time, you've developed the plant list and have them on site. Install underground irrigation (if called for in your plan) before tweaking the layout of the new bed with contouring and accent rocks. Plant from the largest to the smallest plants first to avoid trampling: trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials by size as well. Space plants for mature growth or more depending on water availability, install above ground drip (if part of the plan), mulch appropriately and maintain. It's easy, but pay attention to a few details.

Top Dressing -- Amending Existing Landscapes

Amending existing landscapes requires topdressing, applying the nutrients under the mulch to the top of the soil. Topdressing adds smalls amounts of organic compost to the soil once or twice a year. It is a slower process to build the soil, especially if the landscape didn't have the advantage starting out with ample organic matter incorporated at the beginning. Even if the landscape has been fertilized for decades, you can begin to bring the soil back to life.

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