Grit Blogs > Midwest Living - Small Communities but Big Adventures

Grass to Flowerbed: The Labors of Landscaping a New Garden

Sue-Head-ShotThis is what my future flowerbed looks like; lots of grass and what is going to be a long weekend.

This "little" patch of grass is wedged between the sidewalk and the garage.



Day One: Saturday – We managed to get the sod up by hand and with help of shovels. Please, if you ever hear me talking about making another flowerbed, remind me of this moment and how much it absolutely sucks to dig up grass!


Sunday – Day two. Yep, that's right ... it took us a whole afternoon to get just the grass up, and we were exhausted.

Once all the sod was up, my hubby dug down around the edge and we started on the border. We put down gardener's cloth below the edging to help keep the weeds out as well. Once the border was cut, leveled, and screwed into place I raked the ground and made it level. We laid down gardener's cloth over the rest of the newly exposed ground. Then we put a whole truck load of compost on top of the gardener's cloth to make a nice big flowerbed.


The finished product! We leveled out the compost. The plants I had already patiently waiting for their new home. I placed them where I wanted and then planted accordingly making sure to mix the ground with the compost so that all my plants get plenty of natural fertilizer.

It's a shady spot, so I chose "tough plants" like hostas that do well in the shade. I plan to throw in a few annuals to bring in some color, but these shown below are all perennials so they'll come back every year. I finally have a flower garden to put my garden decorations in!Flowerbed4

Flowerbed5I'm sure I'm getting old and have no business doing hard physical labor when I spend most of my regular days sitting at a desk. I am sore in muscles I didn’t know existed, and my hands are beat up and blistered.

I love my new flowerbed! And thanks to the hubby for working so hard with me this weekend to get it done! This isn't the only thing we had going on, and so we had to work on it in-between the other weekend activities.

If you have any really cool flower ideas that do great in shady areas, please let me know, as I'm always looking for new ideas!

nebraska dave
6/2/2010 7:56:52 AM

Sue, I admire your ambition and the end resulting flower bed. You will have something to admire for many years. It was good that you put down the weed barrier. You might think about mulch to keep the ground from drying out and to help with weed control. Weed seeds float through the air with the greatest of ease and love to grow in compost just like your flower plants. You already are doing well in that you know that there are shade plants that go in the shade. When I started out with flowers I didn’t know that and well didn’t have such a good turn out. I have a patio in the shade that I plant with containers. I’ve found that Begonias do well in the shade as well as Impatiens, Dusty Miller and Coleus. Dusty Miller and Coleus are not flowering plants but do give color to the bed. Once you see how well your plants compliment your yard, you will forget about how difficult it was to prepare the flower bed and catch that gardening bug desire to do it again. I hope you have many years of enjoyment from your labors. Keep us updated on the growth and bloom display of your plantings.

cindy murphy
6/2/2010 7:49:09 AM

Hello Sue, and welcome to Grit. I work at a nursery, and most of my yard is shady, so I'm very familiar with plants that flower well in shade. One of my perennial favorites is Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla), which has airy, chartreuse flowers in early summer....although the leaves are very similar to the coral bells you've already got in the garden. Cool plant though - the dew collects, and beads on the leaves which glistens even in partial sun. Other favorites that would combine well with what you've got in your garden are Corydalis lutea - a delicate looking perennial that is actually tough as nails, with yellow flowers from spring 'til frost. Carex "Bowles Golden" is a clump-forming sedge with yellow blades that brighten up shady areas, and give a different texture than the course, wide leaves of hosta. And of course, astilbes are among most people's favorites for shade. Happy gardening, and're never too old to dig in the dirt; it's what keeps us young. Cindy - A Lakeside View