How to: Plant borders or raised beds

Planting something new in a border is an exciting, although slightly daunting, prospect. There’s the anticipation of beautiful flowers and watching the plant thrive for years to come, combined with the worry it won’t survive more than a few weeks once in the ground – there’s nothing worse for a gardener than watching a new plant die. But really there’s nothing to worry about – just choose plants that are suited to your garden (sunny, shady, dry, wet etc) and follow this planting guide. It shows you exactly how to get new plants off to the best start, meaning you’ll always succeed with new introductions. Planting is best done in the spring or autumn, although you can do it at any time of year if you water dry soil thoroughly before you start. Best of all, a good planting technique will give you confidence to buy new plants for years to come.  

What you'll need: 

  • Garden spade
  • Powdered plant food (bone meal is ideal)
  • Watering can

How to plant borders or raised beds:

Step 1
Plant when the soil is moist but not frozen, which is usually in spring or autumn. If you want to plant in the summer, when soil is dry, water the ground thoroughly for a few days before planting.

Step 2
Position your plant on the ground and stand back to check it’s in the right position. Once you’ve decided on the right spot dig up any weeds that are in the way – you want to get rid of these so they don’t compete with the new plant.

Step 3
Dig a hole with the spade that’s slightly wider and deeper than the pot your plant is in. Mound the soil around the hole, as you’ll need it later.

Step 4
Sprinkle plant food in the hole and into the dug-out soil surrounding it. Food like bone meal helps roots establish and will get the plant off to the best possible start.

Step 5
Carefully remove the plant from its pot, taking care not to damage the foliage or any flowers. If it’s tricky to get out, turn the pot upside down and gently squeeze its sides.

Step 6
Pick out the plant’s roots with your fingers (this is called teasing), as this will encourage them to establish and venture off into your soil.

Step 7
Put the plant in the hole so the top of its root ball is level with the soil surface. Make sure the bottom of the root ball is in contact with the soil, adding more underneath to build it up a bit if necessary.

Step 8
Fill the gaps around the plant with the soil from the hole, pushing it down with your fingers to make sure there are no air pockets. Firm the plant in place with your hands (or foot if it’s a large plant).

Step 9
Water the plant thoroughly, directing the flow straight to the roots. Use at least a whole watering can per plant. Water regularly until the plant is well established, particularly through its first summer.

How to plant in a border or raised bed

Water plants well in their pots the night before putting them in the ground – this will lessen the stress of being uprooted and planted somewhere new.