Making a Flower Bed out of Weeds and Grass

When we first moved into our house, the front yard was entirely grass, with five little evergreen shrubs in a row up against the house. The shrubs are Taxus x Media ‘Densiformis’ more commonly known as Yew — we know this because the tags were still on the plants from where they were bought, indicating that they were put in the ground shortly before the house went up for sale. They’re nice enough shrubs, although by this spring they had gotten to a pretty shaggy-looking state:

The bushes in front of our house as seen in March.

The above photo is straight out of my springtime lawn care post — as you can see, the bushes had gotten very overgrown and uneven in the time since we moved in. You can also see how the lawn just extends around them, which makes it a bit of a pain to mow, and ever since we planted those tulip bulbs last fall (which you can see sprouting up in the spaces between the bushes in the above photo) I’ve been wanting to turn this area into more of a proper flower bed.

The supplies needed for this project were pretty minimal: mulch, a digging tool of some sort, and a bit of spare time to work on it. There was already a trowel in the garage, and Aunt Marty kindly donated three large bags of hardwood mulch, so all that was left was to reserve a weekend afternoon to dig into it (pun intended).

Oh, there was also a measuring tape involved — based on the size and placement of the bushes, around four feet seemed like a good width for a flower bed, so all I did was measure it and start digging up green stuff, re-checking the measurement as I went to keep it even. Here’s an in-progress shot showing what it looked like partially dug up:

A photo showing partially dug up grass, being removed to create a flower bed.

The dirt and grass around the bushes, halfway finished.

Overall it was more time-consuming than difficult — I probably spent three or four hours digging away at it while Joe and Lillian hung out inside. Once all the grass and weeds were removed, it was just a matter of spreading out the mulch on the newly cleared ground, although we ended up having to go back for a fourth bag. (In the beginning the three bags of mulch seemed like they would be plenty, but turned out to be not enough to cover the whole area.)

As for how it all turned out, how about a dramatic before-and-after sequence to reveal the end result? First, here are the bushes again, this time shown as they looked when we first moved in:

The bushes along the front of the house, as seen when we moved in.

And here is a shot of the same area, taken from the same angle, showing what it looked like after some much-needed attention:

A photo showing a flower bed in front of a brick bungalow.

The finished and freshly mulched flower bed.

I think getting rid of the grass has been a big improvement, although trimming the bushes into smaller, tidier, rounder spheroids also helped a lot. And in the future it’d be nice to add a border of brick or stone for a more polished, finished look, although we may not get to that this summer.

Anyway — just for fun, let’s take a closer look at what those tulips turned out to look like after months of suspense since planting them last fall. We had quite a variety pop up, including some traditional-looking tulips in purple and orange:

A closeup flower photo showing a vibrant orange tulip.

Traditional orange tulip.

And then we had some very full double-petaled tulips in a lovely shade of pale pink:

A closeup photo of a hybrid double petal tulip in pink.

Pink double petal tulips.

And last but not least were these interesting-looking tulips with fringed edges, the likes of which I’d never even seen before:

A photograph showing tulips with frayed, fringed petals.

Pointy-looking fringed tulips.

They almost look thorny, but when you touch them the edges are really soft, like frayed silk or something. You can read more about fringed tulips here.

Anyway, in the time since taking these pictures and writing this blog post, the tulips have passed their prime and lost all of their petals, though we’re leaving the green plants (with minimal trimming of any dead brown parts) until they die naturally — they may look a little ugly for a little while, but apparently this ensures that the bulbs get the energy and nutrients needed to bloom again next year. (More info on tulip care can be found here.)

But now that spring has passed and the tulips are gone, this area will remain flowerless unless we plant something else, so we’re planning on putting in some annuals just to fill things out — more info on that coming in a future blog post! In the meantime, have you guys been up to any gardening or landscaping lately? Have you seen the fringed tulips and double-petaled tulips before? Do you prefer them to the traditional variety? Feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments!

5 Comments

  1. Wow! That looks awesome!! You did an outstanding job! The tulips were gorgeous! They are my favorite flower!! I love the fringed ones and the double petaled oned,s. I haven’t seen any like that before. I think I like the doubles the best.

    We haven’t done any gardening yet, but we definitely plan to do so. I would love to have some flowers to brighten up the place, and I’d like to have a small vegetable garden. Amy got a cabbage plant from school, and we need to transplant it to the ground along with planting some others.

    It looks beautiful! Great job! Love you all!

  2. Nice job on the bed! I tried growing tulips (and gladiolus) several years ago, but they don’t do well here; it’s too hot, unless you dig the bulbs up and store them in the fridge during Dec-Feb, which I was too lazy to do! I had seen the double and fringed varieties in the Parks catalog, but I prefer the traditional. I have recently started gardening again, but only edible stuff now, or pest control (marigolds). I also have some rabbits (just 2 for now) – they can eat weeds (or excess veggies when they come in), their poop is good fertilizer, THEY are tasty, and the plentiful acorns around here can tan fur. Getting a mini-ecosystem going, I hope! At any rate, it’s very relaxing to watch them hop around Dutch’s old enclosure.

  3. Just really lovely! Good job! Joe, do you remember the tulips your g-grandmother had around that big walnut tree out back? And, BTW Joe, you can do some of the digging, too!

  4. I can switch off if asked, but I think Sarah just loses herself in the work — those 3-4 hours were supposed to be “about half an hour” when she started! Then again, maybe we should all hang out outside next time — supposedly a little dirt is good for Lilly’s immune system…

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