Restoring Perennial Beds

Restoring an old flower bed requires an analysis of the existing plant material in the garden in order to determine which flowers are worth saving. Over time, neglected flower beds suffer from weed infestation. Weeds will take root, establish themselves and begin to crowd out the flowers. Many times the roots of weeds will become entangled in the root of the perennials making it very difficult to save them.

The first thing to do is find the healthiest flowers in the garden mark them with tags or garden stakes. Don’t dig them out of the garden right away however, as you’ll want to restore and prepare the garden soil first. Areas of the garden which have become too infested with weeds can be completely dug up and the plants thrown in the compost pile.

With a shovel, turn over the garden and shake the soil from the clumps of weeds and weed infested perennials. Turning over the soil will loosen compacted soil and allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the garden surface. Tilling in fresh organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, will help restore nutrients in the garden. Gardens which have been abandoned often have poor soils due to the leaching of nutrients. Also, test the pH of the soil and add lime if it has become acidic.


At this point you can begin the process of transplanting your flowers. Use a shovel to carefully remove the perennials from the garden. Simply dig straight down on all side of the plant a pry it out of the ground. Try to keep as much of the root system intact as possible.

Perennials grow larger year after year so they may need to be divided (See Dividing Perennials). Dividing will increase your plant stock as you may be able to turn one over grown plant into 3 or 4. Dividing is also a great to rejuvenate old plants. Generally fall blooming perennials should be divided in the spring while spring bloomers prefer division in the fall. When replanting you divisions, be sure to plant them at the depth they originally were. If you’re restoring your garden during the spring mark where the bulbs are, so they’re not dug mistakenly further along during the season.

Related Articles: Rejuvenating Trees & Shrubs, Dividing Perennials, Garden Preparation