Flower Beds: Out with the Old, In with the New

Our friends Tom and Tera recently moved from Hoboken, NJ to Raleigh, NC. They’re enjoying new home ownership and have been tackling do-it-yourself projects every weekend.
They recently shared a flower bed makeover with us. The plan was to overhaul the existing bed in the front of the house (4’x13′) and create two new beds around the steps (3’x4′).
Here’s how they did it in their own words
The front bed had a couple bushes in it, both of which were doing alright, and a lot of weeds and old mulch. The two areas around the steps were still grass, but had some pretty healthy growth, so we assumed the soil was fairly healthy.
We gave themselves a $200 budget, and came in just at that number. The supplies for the first stage all came from Home Depot:
4 – MiracleGro Garden Soil (2 cu. feet): $7.47 per bag
1- True Temper Hand Trowel: $3.97
2 – True Temper Bronco Hand Cultivator: $3.97
7 – Cast iron fleur de lis borders: $2.88 (these were on clearance, ended up being short one but worth the investment)
1 pair – Performance Select Mens Split Leather Palm Safety Cuff Work Gloves: $1.97
1 pair – Performance Select Latex Dipped String Knit Work Gloves: $3.97
1 – Miracle Gro Shake N Feed (1.8 lbs): $6.18

Rough total (excluding tax): $70.10
First Steps
We had originally thought about doing mulch, but when we got to Home Depot, the garden specialist we met with suggested we use the MiracleGro Garden Soil instead after we talked about what kind of soil we were working with and what we were thinking about planting.
North Carolina can have some difficult soil to work with, and since we’re in an urban area, it typically is fairly sandy and can have a little of the red clay mixed in as well. We told him that we were working with roughly 70 sq. ft., and he recommended that we start with the four bags and see if we needed to top off from there.
Making the Beds
With our new tools, and a couple borrowed one’s, we got to work. Digging up the old bed was fairly challenging, though the bushes came out pretty easily. The soil was in pretty good shape, which made things a little easier for us. Lots of weeding to be done, and we trimmed the remaining bush to help fit the profile. For the other beds, I marked off the area with my shovel, dug it up and then moved the soil around with the hand cultivator. We also poked some holes in the soil to create pockets.
It took exactly all four bags to cover all the beds. We poured out piles, spread, and mixed with the existing soil. It created a fairly healthy mix, topped it off with some of the Shake N Feed, and sprayed it down to see how everything settled. Looked good, built the borders around the new bed, and left planting to the next weekend.
Choosing the Plants
All of the plants came from the North Carolina Farmers Market. Not only do they have great produce, but they also offer a wide variety of perennials, annuals and small trees/bushes at extremely low prices. We picked up:
6 – Marigolds (orange and yellow)
2 -Red Salvia
2 – Purple Salvia
1 palette (48 count) – Celosia “Fashion Look”
1 palette (48 count) – Celosia “Dwarf Mix”
1 – Hibiscus tree
3 – Begonias (orange, yellow, red)
7 – Variegatum
1 – shrub (forgot its name)
Total: $120
Planting the Beds
After going through placement designs, we started digging and planting. The Celosia were used to make a border in the larger bed, where the hibiscus tree and shrub were planted. The other two beds were given a combination of flowers, and in one bed we planted all of the Variegatum which will eventually create a cover.
We wanted to keep it unique on each side, didn’t worry too much about balancing each side, just created beds we thought would look great and grow in well. The soil had settled really well, and all the digging and raking we had done the week before made it easy to create holes and plant. The border took a while, and setting the hibiscus in the right place was time consuming, but the rest was smooth sailing.
We already see a huge improvement in the look of our front yard, and have received a few compliments on how much of a difference this is from the previous owner. Eventually, we want to find a way to mask the PVC statue, but we’re going to see how things grow in first and go from there. Best part, we came in under budget, including adding tools that we’ll use for future projects.
Take a look at our before and after photos for more details.
We just hope that this can help other new homeowners realize it’s not that scary to take on a project like this, and for a really low budget you can make a great DIY front yard out of nothing.

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