How to Create a Planter Bed From Scratch

A backyard with the beginnings of a planter bed being formed.
  • 8-50 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-300

If you're thinking about growing a garden this summer, the best times to start planning are winter and early spring. Learn how to create a planter bed from scratch and you’ll be on your way to harvesting your own flowers and vegetables by mid-summer.

Step 1 - Locate a Space

A backyard with a series of garden beds surrounded by edging.

If you're planning on growing vegetables, you’ll want to locate a space that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Most veggie plants thrive in a full sun location. Different flowering plants and herbs have various sunlight requirements, so you’ll want to research what plants you plan on growing before you decide on a space for your garden beds.

Locating your garden near a water source is also important. You’ll need to water your garden several times a week, and sometimes daily during periods of no rain or excessive heat. If you don’t have access to water outside or can’t find an ideal location near a water source, consider installing rain barrels to catch rain water.

Also consider how far you want to locate your gardening pace from your home. If your garden is close to your house, you’ll see it and tend to it regularly. If it’s at the far side of your property, you may forget about it.

Step 2 - Determine a Planter Bed Size

Once you’ve located a space on your property, you’ll need to determine how large you’d like your planter bed to be.

You might want a smaller bed for a small garden or family, or a larger garden comprised of several planter beds. Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep in mind what you will be planting.

Every plant has specific space requirements. These are listed on the seed packets and pots of baby plants. Make your planter bed large enough to contain the plants and small enough you can reach the edge of your bed to harvest your produce or pick flowers for a bouquet.

Step 3 - Clear the Space

A patch of soil with a lot of weeds and a shovel getting ready to remove them.

Your next step is to clear a space for your planter bed. Once you’ve decided on how large you would like your planter bed to be, you need to clear the area of all rocks, sticks, leaves, and other debris.

Step 4 - Till the Soil

Once you’ve cleared your space of any debris, till the soil. If there is grass in the area, remove the top layer of soil and grass. You can do this with a small flat shovel. Slide the shovel slightly into the ground at a low angle and scrape underneath the grass and roots.

When all of the grass is removed, dig into the soil with a larger shovel and turn it over. Remove any large rocks, sticks, and debris as you do this.

Step 5 - Add Organic Material

A couple of wood compost bins with compost in them.

Depending on your chosen location, you may have poor soil or great soil. The only way to know is to test it. You can purchase a soil test kit at your local home improvement store.

Once you’ve tested your soil, you’ll know what type of additions need to be made. Usually a well-aged compost is needed. You can buy compost in bags at your home improvement store (or create your own). For larger gardens, you might want to consider a delivery from a company that specializes in compost.

Step 6 - Consider Planter Bed Edging

You can leave the edges of your planter beds bare. However, many people like to outline or frame them with large stone, bricks, pavers, or low fencing. The idea is to contain the bed, add some decoration, and yet still be able to reach your produce.

Step 7 - Optional Fencing

A vegetable garden that's fenced in.

Fencing helps to keep veggie-eating critters out. If you are building a small planter bed, you won’t need or want a fence. If you are building a larger garden with several planter beds, you may want to consider a four-foot high perimeter fence if garden pests are a problem in your area.

Growing your own garden can be a great experience and building a planter bed from scratch is pretty easy. Plan now and you’ll enjoy flowers and vegetables all summer long.