Here are just a few ways this task can help you:
If preparing a new bed or border, start by identifying the right part of the garden. For vegetable growing, you want as much sun as possible and probably need a minimum of 4-5 hours of sun hitting that bed each day over the summer.
Go outside early between 7-9am and note which parts of the garden are sunny. If you know where the sun sets you can probably work out which areas of the garden get the most sun.
But if your garden has trees or building bordering and you are new to gardening, come back outside once every hour or so and keep checking how the sun moves across your garden.
Flower or shrub borders can accommodate shade and the selection of plants for the space changes to accommodate how much sunlight the border will get.
Plants and seeds usually indicate that they are suitable for either Full Sun (6+hours of direct sun each day) part shade ()3-5 hours of direct sun each day), shade (less than 3 hours each day). Choosing the right plants for a new border also needs consideration for soil type as well.
Make sure you are dressed for gardening. Wear sturdy non slip shoes, loose fitting clothes and a hat if it is sunny, even in spring the sun can burn if we are out for long periods:
To prepare a new bed or border, start at step 1.
For refreshing a bed or border, work from step 6.
Use or make some garden line markers (you can tie string between two 30cm stakes or to create curved beds either use a rope or peg the string into the ground with pegs) to mark out the space.
Lifting the turf, use an edging spade for straight lines or a garden spade for curved lines, dig one third a spades depth down around the turf and take up (placing a tarp or weed fabric next to your digging to place soil and turf on so you dont damage other ground) and keep, at this stage it is best to remove any perennial weed like dandelions from the turf and deposit in a bucket or container.
Loosen the soil with a fork and then dig one full spades depth down depositing the soil to the side either on the tarp or on the new bare soil for 1 half of the new bed shape. Take out any large stones, roots or other large organic material as you do so and deposit in a bucket or container.
Place the turf grass down at the bottom of this hole or trench and turn over the deposited soil on top of the upside-down turf.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other side of the new bed/border
Lightly fork over continuing to remove any large stones, roots or other larger organic material. Keep doing this until the soil is broken down to pieces around 5cm round or smaller. If you already have plants you want to keep in the border then try to avoid forking near to them, late spring when most perennials will be starting to show new growth is a good time to do this.
Add some new soil improver if you have some, (compost, well-rotted manure, leaf mould) and fork in to distribute evenly. (different soil types need different materials to improve them for plants and vegetables). If refreshing a border a top dressing of mulch such as compost or leaf mould is very effective at improving soil nutrition and suppresses weeds.
Rake over removing any stones from the surface and breaking the soil pieces down to less than 2cm round or smaller. Remember to avoid treading on the new soil so you don’t compress it, plants need air in the soil as well as moisture and nutrients for growth.
The bed or border is now ready for planting, if it is going to be more than a couple of weeks before you plant out it could be good to cover with a weed suppressant material to keep the soil weed free if not weed before planting to minimise root disturbance for new plants.