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8 Steps to Create a Weed-Free Flower Bed

Friends, have you ever simply given up on an are of your yard? You want it to look nice but no matter what you’ve tried it just falls flat? I think I’ve finally found the answer to the pain in my side and I’m excited to show you the 8 Steps to Create a Weed Free Flower Bed of your own.

Completed weed free flower bed with text overlay.

This little strip by the front door has had everything planted in it over the years. It will look nice for a while but then, Meh! Weeds seem to over take it. More so now thanks to the stupid wild turkeys who have invaded our neighborhoods the last few years.

Before pic of weed free flower bed overgrown with clover.
Ho hum, what a boring flower bed.

Clover, not the short stuff that make a great lawn, but tall gangly stuff is everywhere. It pulls up easy but it seems for every one you pull two more clumps appear.

Clover overgrown flower bed area.
The tall clover grows over and through everything.

You know I love succulents and I tried them out here as well. They did ok but apparently the unlabeled multi pack I bought was mostly ground cover types so there was no height interest.

And, the clover was taller than the ground covers. Since this month’s At Home DIY Challenge is titled “Pretty It up Outside” I finally said enough was enough and knew this area was my target.

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Weed Free Flower Bed Supplies

I’ll run you through the steps I took to turn this boring space into a beautiful Weed Free Flower Bed. And I did it all one afternoon.

Clear out the flower bed

Follow this step for anything you want to salvage from your flower bed.

Step 1: Remove existing plants

  • Lay out the painter’s tarp near the flower bed to protect your lawn.
  • Put on your oh so sexy work gloves. This is optional of course but dirt can be amazingly drying to your skin.
  • Using a shovel or garden trowel remove all the plants from the flower bed.
Foot stepping on shovel digging out the flower bed.
  • Carefully transfer anything you want to keep to the painter’s tarp.
  • Compost, give away, or toss anything you don’t want to replant elsewhere.
Succulent removed from flower bed laying on painter's tarp.

Preparing the dirt

Step 2: Turn the soil

With the old plants removed it’s time to rid the dirt of as many roots and weeds as possible. This step is important, you want to give your weed block the best chance of working possible.

It’s easiest to do this in the spring when the soil is still moist. You can water the area first to make this easier, but you don’t want to work with mud.

  • Use your shovel to turn the soil.
  • Using the tip chop at the clumps as you turn them to break them up.

Step 3: Clear the roots

  • Using the cultivator, rake it through the dirt to capture roots.
  • Do this in a few different directions several times.
Pulling cultivator through soil of flower bed.

It’s amazing what the 3 prongs on the cultivator catches.

Cultivator with captured weeds and leaves from flower bed.
  • Toss the roots and debris into a bucket or onto floor protector sheet that can easily be taken to the green waste bin.
  • Keep working the soil with the cultivator or bow rake until you’ve removed the majority of the roots.
Shovel and weeds and plants from flower bed on cardboard.
Weeds and greenery destined for the compost bin.

Step 4: Level the dirt

  • Using the Bow Rake spread the dirt in the flower bed so that it’s smooth and level.
  • If you have a tamper use it to compact the soil a bit.
  • You could also use the back of the shovel or your feet to compact the soil.

Your flower bed should look something like this before moving to the next step.

Cleared flower bed ready for plantings
Finally clean of all the weeds and old plant roots.

Notice the level of the dirt is slightly below the lawn area. This is to accommodate the rock I’m going to add so that it’s contained and doesn’t spills onto the grass.

Weed blocking

Step 5: Apply weed blocking medium

  • Starting at one end lay down the roll of weed block and unroll it over the dirt area.
  • If you’re covering a large space make sure to overlap the edges.
  • If it’s a breezy day hold in place with bricks or rocks.
Weed block rolled over flower bed with brick on edges.
  • Using scissors cut the weed block a few inches longer and wider than your bed.
  • Wait to do a final trim.

You may want to use a different weed blocking method, and I respect that. Over the years we’ve tried newspaper and cardboard and honestly it’s not worked well for us living near so much open space.

Rock or gravel

If you want to plant in the ground you’d do that now by making holes in the weed block and planting your flowers. I’m trying something different this time.

Step 6: Add a layer of rock

Depending on the area you need to cover it might be cheaper to call a local garden center and have some rock delivered. I got mine at home depot and here are my tips.

  • Measure the area you want to cover and determine to what depth.
  • Purchase or order enough rock to cover the area.
  • Open the bags and pour them into the bed.
    • or use a wheelbarrow and shovel
Rock over weed block in new flower bed.
  • Spread them evenly with the bow rake.
  • Tamp them in with the flat part of the bow rake so they settle.
  • Trim excess weed block allowing it to wrap up the sides of the flower bed.
Trimming edges of weed block.

Add Plants and Interest

This flower bed has been a pain over the years but one thing that seems to do pretty well here is succulents. Even though it’s mostly shaded and the soil is clay. In summer it gets some good sunlight.

We’ve had a giant jade tree growing in a pot in deep shade for about 10 years. So my plan was to go with succulents (and some flowers) in pots.

Step 7: Gather potted plants

I really needed some height in this bed to break up the long expanse. I scored some beautiful but cheap pots years ago at a clearance sale so I gathered them from various places and transplanted a few of the succulents I dug out of this bed.

  • Clean out previously used pots of all old dirt
  • Cover the weep holes with coffee filters or screen to keep the dirt in.
  • Mix dirt with water absorbing crystals to extend time between hand watering.
  • Add your plant and fill in all around, pressing to compact as needed.
  • Water the plant well and keep moist until established.

While I was at Home Depot I grabbed three coleus but realized I didn’t have 3 little pots they’d fit in. Then I remembered thre Dollar Store tin containers I bought a few summers ago.

They were really meant for flower arrangements but they are perfect for this project. They just needed weep holes.

  • Turn them over and use a Scratch Awl or a screwdriver and your hammer to poke a few weep holes in the bottom.
  • Turn them right side up and press down the sharp edges with the hammer.
  • Lay coffee filters or screen over the weep holes before adding the soil and plants.
Punching holes in bottom of tin planter for flower bed.

Step 8: Add a water feature

For even more height interest add a bird bath or even a fountain to your beautiful new flower bed. I went with a homemade birdbath.

I’ve had this beautiful bowl for several year that was originally part of an indoor fountain my husband and daughter bought me from a local artist. It’s held so many things but the inside is too pretty to cover.

In the backyard I also had a tall skinny pot I picked up when I got the others. I decided to put them together to make a great little bath for the plethora of feathered friends we have around us.

Bird bath in center of flower bed with flowers in pots below.

The bowl is a bit deep for the little birds so I added a simple terra cotta saucer that sits in the bottom. Since nothing is attached it will be easy to dump the water and clean it out regularly.

Birdbath filled with water and blue mexican rocks.

It looks really great sitting above the smaller pots. The succulents I repotted might eventually get taller but at least they’re easy to move around. I had to temporarily stake the jade because the roots were too shallow.

Jade plant and fern beyond bird bath.

You may have noticed that I only attacked half of the long flower bed in the front of our house. I wasn’t ready to deal with the area under the camellia bushes.

As soon as I was finished with the left side of the new weed free flower bed my husband said, “hey, I think you should continue it all the way to the other end.”

Fox tail fern and jade in pots on rock flower bed.-1

Have you ever raked camellia blossoms and leaves from a gravel flower bed? I think this might be the leverage I need to convince him to finally get them out of here.

Solar path light next to coleus plant in rock flower bed.

I’ve never cared for them (except when they’re in bloom). I’ve asked many times to just get rid of them. So far he’s resisted and hey do disguise the water and electrical meter (what dummy builder thought it was a good idea to put an ugly electrical meter on the front of the house?)

Strawberry pot with succulent on rock flower bed.
Birdbath with potted plants on rock flower bed.

But I still loath those bushes and we’ll find another lovely way to disguise them. I’m thinking of something similar to this Utility Box Cover would work nicely.

Completed weed-free rock flower bed with birdbath and flower pots.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.


8 steps to create a beautiful flower bed collage.

And now don’t forget to go check out all the other “Pretty it Up Outdoor” projects by my blogging friends. There’s a ton of great project to get your creative juices flowing for outdoor updates.

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Tuesday 29th of June 2021

We just finished our flower beds with rock. We tore out all the old shrubs and cleaned out everything, added some new dirt and then the paper and rocks. It’s a blank canvas right now if I can figure out what to do next . Yours is awesome!


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

I love this idea! I have too many beds around my house that require so much maintenance....this is such a great alternative. What did you use for your edging? It looks thicker than most products I’ve seen.


Saturday 5th of September 2020

Hi Bev, we had installed that edging years ago. It's like a trex decking product that's sold as bender board. It never rots, so that's nice for another no maintenance item. Click this link to something similar


Thursday 30th of May 2019

You may want to put newspaper on the area you want to clear out during the fall and winter and cover with pine straw or bark mulch. It will kill all of the grass and miraculously, it does not come back and your plants will grow like wildfire. I've tried it and it really works.

Toni | Girl, Just DIY!

Thursday 6th of June 2019

Thanks for the tip on the newspaper. We previously had bark over the area around the plants we planted. And still the stupid clover found a way.

Kenya Rae

Sunday 26th of May 2019

We had like twenty bushes in the front and along side the house, we pulled them up and weeds immediately took over. We finally just got around to tilling and laying stones in that area. It looks so much better. I plan to work on some potted plants later or even next year. Looks like a new home!

Thanks for sharing!

Toni | Girl, Just DIY!

Thursday 30th of May 2019

I was worried coming home from vacation that the weeds would be back. Thankfully just a few small clover were peeking from the sides. They were quickly pulled and I will keep a vigilant eye hoping to keep them at bay until all the roots are dead dead dead.


Friday 24th of May 2019

I wish I could grow anything much less keep weeds away haha. thanks for sharing this!

Toni | Girl, Just DIY!

Thursday 30th of May 2019

Succulents girl, that's the secret ;-)