When it comes to preparing for your garden one of the main things you have to do is clear an area for the garden beds whether you are placing your garden into your ground or using a raised bed. Either way I wanted to show you how we prepare a garden bed whenever we begin new or need to refresh an old bed.
Below you will find our video of how we recently did this in one of our gardens that needed some updating, but I will walk through here as well. Here is a quick how to to help you in your process:
Identify Your Site for Your Garden Bed
This is easy and simple to do. Know where you plan to grow your food by looking at key things such as:
- Soil quality
- Access to water
- Pest/predator control
If you want to know more about how to choose your garden bed location, I explain this in-depth within our garden e-book if you are interested.
Get the Proper Equipment to Prepare a Garden Bed
Once you have identified your location you will need a few things to do this properly and in a clean manner. Here are the items and why you need each one:
- Rope or twine: This will you measure and mark out your area and make sure it is the right shape with equal sides.
- Stakes: To tie the twine to. If you are doing a square or rectangle shape (the most common) make sure you have at least 4 (one for each corner)
- Tape Measure: This will help you know the exact size for your plot so you can decide on the amount of compost and mulch you will need to add to the soil.
- Shovel: This will help you get up some tough weeds and move compost and mulch into the wheelbarrow
- Hoe: to pull out any stubborn weeds or edge straight lines
- Wheelbarrow: This will both move out the weeds and grass but also help move along the compost and mulch when you are ready
- Hand Tiller or Electric Tiller: This will be what you use to rip up the ground and open everything up so you can remove the weeds and reset things for your garden.
- Garden Gloves: This can be quite a hard process on your hands with the rake and shovel so gloves help significantly in making it easier on your body.
- Rake: This will even and spread the mulch and ground throughout the process
- Mulch: You will need some mulch around your bed to frame and keep the weeds from reentering. You can use anything from hay to hardwood to cedar. Just make sure there is no dyes or other things added in.
- Compost: This will be how you strengthen and overtime keep out the weeds. Once you establish this space you won’t need to retill or turn the soil again. You simply will just keep it weeded and adding more compost every year.
If you are curious about what items I suggest to purchase you can find them on our Amazon storefront in the garden section. You can also find a guide to soil and other garden needs on this post about soil. I broke it down the simplest possible because it doesn’t need to be anything too complicated.
How to Begin to Prepare a Garden Bed:
You first will mark and create the lines of your garden bed. If you are doing a vegetable garden make sure you don’t make bed areas any larger than 4 feet apart. If you make a large bed, just make sure you have a plan for creating rows within the larger bed so you can walk through and access things easily as they grow and you plant more.
Once you know the measurements of the area and you have marked out everything you will want to order your compost and mulch you need. You can figure this out by using a cubic foot calculator. This will give you the amount you need. I always lean a little high just so I have enough. For your amounts the height and density needs to be around the following:
- Mulch needs to be about 2-3 inches thick and a row area or protected area around the bed can be around 3 feet wide around a bed to keep the weeds at bay around the beds or within rows
- Compost you will need 3-5 inches thick depending on what your soil is like underneath.
While you wait for your order to arrive for mulch and compost you can still get working. No need to wait so here are the steps.
The Steps to Prepare a Garden Bed
Here is what you will do step-by-step to clear and open the garden bed so it is ready when your compost and mulch arrive:
- Once you have staked the plot take your shovel and remove in large weeds around the area. These will be the ones bigger than just grass.
- Get the tiller whether a hand tiller or an electric one and till the ground up
- Once everything is tilled up and loosened you can take a rake and rake out the weeds and the grass that you have loosened. Place them in your wheelbarrow and move to a place on your land or area where they can regrow or can just decompose on their own. Remove any and all large rocks. Some are okay just remove large ones especially if you plan to grow root vegetables.
- Once everything is cleared out you can now level and rake the area so it is ready to apply the compost as soon as it arrives.
- When your compost and mulch arrive ( I suggest delivery because it eliminates plastic waste more than the bag options) you can begin spreading the compost on the leveled garden area. You can use the mulch to surround the bed as well. I prefer creating the bed and then the frame, but honestly, it depends on what you are doing.
- Now the bed is ready for planting. I like to water it some if there isn’t rain in the forecast, this pushes the dirt into the topsoil below.
It is that simple and quite easy of a process. It just takes some measuring and planning but this is a quick and easy way. If you have more questions or want more info on gardening you can find more info within our E-book including a plan for 2 4×8 raised beds.
You can also find more posts here on the site as well that may be helpful!