Building a new raised flower bed can be easy and rewarding. Raised beds are a good option if your soil is poor, drainage is bad, and grass/weeds are growing where you want your bed placed. I like to build my new beds by starting off with thick layers of newspaper, feed sacks or cardboard. Line your flower bed area with whatever you are going to use to support the sides of your bed – Large rocks, brick, landscaping boards, etc. After to have your boarders, line the inside with this layers of newspaper. I try to get the newspaper under the edge of the boarder material also to prevent grass from growing around the edges. Newspaper needs to be thick, 9 pages or more and overlapped so there entire floor of your bed is covered well. Weeds and grass need sunshine to grow. Block out the sun and they will die. Next I pile up old hay or straw (that is what I have available). Pile it thick as it will shrink down to make great soil and compost. Several options are available after that – pile on compost, leaves, or top soil if you have it. If not, that is ok.
Now the important part – start layering newspaper on top being careful to overlap completely. Use thick layers of newspaper as you did on the bottom. I like to wet the newspaper to keep it in place (It is always windy when I decide to build a new bed!) The top layers of newspaper will prevent grass/weeds from the old hay and straw growing through. On top of the newspaper, I put a heavy layer of mulch. This can be shredded pine bark (not nuggets) or any other type of mulch. Bark mulch is better for soil than wood mulch as it breaks down faster and has more nutrients. It is best to stay away from the dyed mulch and us the natural. Voila!! You have a new flower bed. You can do this in the fall and let it sit all winter to break down, or I have been known to cut a little hole in the newspaper, pull the hay apart and put in some soil, plop the plant in and the push the mulch back in place. Water well and to my surprise, the plants have thrived. Within a year you will have the best soil you have every seen with no weeds. If I find that grass or weeds are peeking through where I didn’t get good newspaper coverage, I pull them out and cover the area (right on top of the old much) with another layer of newspaper and more mulch. You should have minimal weeds in your beds and your flowers will thrive. Happy Planting!