- plants of choice
- garden hose
- half-moon edger
- manure or garden compost
- sand or gravel
- soil rake
Step 1: Mark Area
Decide where in the yard you want your border and mark out its shape. For a curved edge, use a garden hose. Make sure the border is not too narrow and that its shape fits well within the overall layout of the garden.
Step 2: Cut Garden Shape
Using a half-moon edger or a small spade, carefully slice through the grass, following the contours of the hose. Make sure the cuts line up properly and push the full depth of the cutter into the ground.
Step 3: Strip Off Sod
With a spade, begin stripping off the sod. Cut it into manageable-sized squares from above, then slide the blade of the spade under the roots of the grass. Try to avoid removing an excessively deep layer of soil.
Step 4: Save Sod
Stack the sod in a spare corner of the yard, grass side down. The soil in this sod is nutrient-rich and should be reused. After several months, the grass will die off and the pile can be cut up, sifted, and dug into the borders.
Step 5: Clear Debris
Dig over the exposed soil with a fork, pushing the tines down to their full depth. Remove old roots, large stones, and debris that you unearth, and break up large clods of soil. Work the soil until it has a crumbly texture.
Step 6: Spread Compost
With a spade, spread about 2 inches (5 cm) of organic matter, such as well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost, over the surface of the border. Turn the compost into the soil, and mix it in evenly.
Step 7: Spread Sand or Gravel
If the soil is heavy or poorly drained, spread a 3-inch (8-cm) layer of coarse sand or gravel over it, and dig this into the top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil with a spade. This will help open up drainage channels through the soil in the root zone.
Step 8: Remove Remaining Debris
Using a soil rake, remove any remaining stones, roots, or debris that may have worked their way up to the surface. Then, with the flat back of the rake, carefully level off any mounds and hollows.
Step 9: Add Edge
To stop soil from spilling out onto the lawn, consider adding edging to the front of the border before planting. Use a level to make sure the edging is level.
Step 10: Arrange Plants
Set out the plants, still in their pots, on the ground, adjusting their positions until you are happy. Pay attention to their eventual size, flower and foliage color, and season of interest to achieve your desired effect.
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