Renovation of a Flower Bed - Digging Begins

We set a record today when the temperature reached 80 (EIGHTY) degrees around 3:00 PM this afternoon. I had several people stop me at work and ask if I was tempted to take the day off. Well, sure I was, who wouldn't be? But I didn't because I had meetings to attend and what kind of example would I set if the first nice day of spring I called in? And besides, I always remember that my job is what allows me to buy more than one hoe.

But I didn't dilly dally at work too late, and so still had a couple of hours of daylight to start widening the flower bed when I did get home. After an hour, I stopped to get a drink of water and took this picture. I'd say that's not bad for an hour's worth of work!

I dig all this out by hand. I use an edger to cut the sod into sections, like cutting a pie, then I use my Hand Digging Hoe to hand dig out the sod. It seems like a bit of work, but I've found that this method gives me better control on the depth that I cut and is less strenuous. (Really!) I've tried using a sod lifter, but this takes more strength, so I always end up on my knees hand digging out all the sod. Slow and steady wins the race in this case. (Of course, for a bigger bed, I would use a roto tiller to break up the sod!)

I started out putting the sod in the compost bin, but then decided I should just fill in bare spots and ruts in the yard. Since the ground is still damp, and the pieces of sod I cut out are small, it is easy to just drop the sod where I want to fill in and stomp it in place. I don't even pay that much attention to whether or not the sod is right side up because the grass will figure out how to grow. I managed to empty two wheelbarrow's full this way.

After I took the picture I did another hour's worth of work and am nearly around the curve. As you can see, I move the edging blocks as I go. I figure I've got about two more evenings of work to finish widening this bed. But with rain and storms in the forecast tonight, a Pacer's game to attend tomorrow night, and much cooler temperatures heading our way, it may be another week or so before I get to do more digging.

But at least I've started. And now that I've started, I have to finish it. No turning back now!


  1. It looks good so far, Carol. I'd also end up on hands and knees, but not with the Hand Digging Hoe... on another page of hand tools, under weeding, is a Cape Cod Weeder. Mine's by another maker, but I use that thing like a strong steel talon, and like the feeling that I'm in control.

    I keep looking at the last few photos, and also like the idea of some kind of manmade structure in the cutout, to make a transition between bed and patio, and to establish that this is a garden apace.

    Your sunny 80ยบ beat our rain & high sixties today!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. 80 - wow! You are such a good example for us, not calling in and all. I can see too if I don't delay, I can get home before dark. Just a little time each night would be nice.

  3. Carol, It looks excellent. I can't wait to see the finished product. Actually, I think you are a really fast worker! Are you going to put some sort of stepping stones here and there to ease the maintenance access or is the bed shallow enough for you to reach all the way in? I can't tell how deep it is by the pictures. Just wondering. Alyssa

  4. Looking good :-) It was 70 here yesterday. Absolute heaven!

    I end up doing all of my sod removal on my knees, too. It's just easier. And, I agree with're a fast worker!

  5. I'm jealous. It hasn't hit 60F yet, and while there are bare patches, the snow is still more here than not. Today and tomorrow it is supposed to rain, and there is a flood watch in effect. (Rain on top of snow, and we're in a river valley.) Yes, that will melt the snow, but then a cold front is supposed to move in next week. Waah!

    I usually use a spading fork to remove sod, but the stronger members of this family use a mattock. My wrist aches just thinking about using the hand hoe you linked to to remove sod.

  6. You did a lot of work Carol, well done. It seems your lawn is getting smaller and smaller, just as mine does. Well, it will save on the lawn mowing time, won't it?

    Have you thought what new plants you're going to put in your larger flowerbed?

  7. Such a neat job Carol! Lookin good! My husband and I have been digging since Sunday. I am dug out! haha! Just came in from digging on my lunch break. Now that's bad! I'm lucky, I live a couple blocks from where I work. Can't wait to see how the bed turns out. I really like your paved patio too. -Kathy


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