New bed construction?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mhussey, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. mhussey

    mhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 523

    I have a question regarding installing new landscape beds.

    I have a customer that want's me to do some landscaping. Its a new construction house, but right now they just have grass planted right up next to the front of the house. I will be renting a Brown bed edger to cut the border. However, my question is what do you guy's typically do with the space from the border to the house? Do you till it up? Do you take a sod cutter and remove the top layer? Also, do you lay any landscape fabric down? I didn't lay any down for my house and seems to do fine, but want your professional opinion.

    I guess essentially, I would like to know the correct steps to take and do to properly install a landscape bed. I know I will probably get some slack, but you know everyone has to start somewhere.

    I am supposed to meet with the customers Tues. to take some pictures and go over preliminary designs.

    Thank you for your opinion and tips.
  2. EagleLandscape

    EagleLandscape LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Garland, Texas
    Messages: 4,350

    Pick it out with a pick axe, or use a sod cutter to remove it. Add in additional soil and organic compounds, and mix in.

  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    One thing I'll add, is that I detest landscape weed fabric.

    At least in our climate, it does not prevent weeds in the long-run, and tends to get in the way or show it's ugly face if mulch is dislodged.
  4. treeman06

    treeman06 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    what we do sometimes is cut the border in and then spray the bed out with round up, wait a week then go back amend the soil if needed then plant. we never use fabric under mulch.
  5. mhussey

    mhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 523

    Thanks for the quick replies guy's. I was worried that I would get made fun of for asking such question.

    I was leaning to not putting landscape fabric as well, but I didn't know.


    Approximately what size bed do you say not to use the pick axe on, and swap for a sod cutter? I will have pictures Tuesday, that should shed more light on what is required.


    That is also a good idea. What came to mind after I read your post was I could rent the Bed Edger for a day and do the landscape job, then get a few more shaping jobs ( just people who already have beds, just needs them freshened up). That way I could pay for the rental more than once!

    Thanks for all your help guys. Anyone else?

  6. treeman06

    treeman06 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    thats what we do, two guys will go out with the sod cutter and edger and mark out the beds make one pass with the sod cutter , put the trench in and then install the bed divider if needed. depende on the size of the project we can usually knock out two or three houses a day. our thought with killing the grass is that it saves alot of labor hauling out sod, and it also keeps the dead grass as good om
  7. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,734

    Till, till, till!!! If you have to add soil or ammendments, be sure to till the existing earth as much as you can to create a good soil contact- and easier planting! In other words, don't just add soil on hardpan.

    I suppose it depends on how long you bedline is, but I'd save the edger and uses the sod cutter, remove all your grass- maybe set the cutter lower on an edge pass. I hand-edge new bed installs with a steel spade. It does it much better than a machine for establishment.

    AND NO FABRIC!! lol
  8. mhussey

    mhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 523

    Hey thanks guy's for all your help.

    I have one more question regarding the sod cutter. I have never used one before, but this job will probably be my first.

    Question is this. Is it very hard to maneuver the sod cutter? What I am getting at is that the customer isn't wanting a straight cut bed. They are wanting a curved flowing bed. I was just thinking on how hard it would be to maneuver the sod cutter to achieve the desired bed shape.

    Again thanks for your help. I should have pics of the property this afternoon. I would like to run some of my ideas for design past you guy's. I'm thinking this will be a great job. She has already discussed with me wanting Japanese Maples, Lirope, Autohollies ( I think that's what they are called).

  9. CALandscapes

    CALandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 946

    We mark the bedlines, and then always try to spray the grass with glyphosate.

    When we spray, we'll just till the dead grass in. When we don't spray, we'll just cut out the grass with shovels.

    I've never used a sod cutter and possibly never will; it's amazing what guys can do with shovels when they know what they're doing and aren't afraid of hard work...

    P.S. - Listen to the advice: NEVER use landscape fabric in beds. IMO the only use for it is under gravel, etc.
  10. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 452

    I agree with CALandscapes. We make it a practice to spray out the turf where the new bed is going or simply scrape off with flat shovels. It really depends upon the square footage of the bed you are creating. If this is basically the front foundation of a new house, you are probably talking 35-45 x 8-10. (300-450 sq.ft. for one side). By the time and money you spend renting a sod cutter and bed edger, you should be able to have this thing edged and turf scraped off. This is more labor intensive, but you are saving the customer money by not charging them equipment rental. This is just my opinion. Now if the bed is bigger, then by all means rent the sod cutter. By the way, the sod cutter is easy to operate and typically operates best in a straight line. You will have to use a shovel to get the tips of any small curves and corners.

    Also, don't use the fabric. It's way over-rated and is a pain to deal with. Especially when there is a chance you may add plants later down the road.

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