Getting a new garden bed ready for planting the first time takes a bit of manual labor, especially if you are putting in the bed where there is already a thriving lawn or if you are battling the shade of overhanging trees. The following pieces of equipment can help make the job easier.
#1: A Sod Cutter
When it comes to removing the sod over a large area, few tools beat a sod cutter. These mechanized devices remove large strips of sod, roots and all. Not only does this give you nearly root-free soil for the garden bed, it also allows you to save the sod for replanting elsewhere, if desired. Cut sod when it is dry and preferably on an overcast day, especially if you plan to save it. This way the hot sun won't scorch the grass before you have time to move the sod to its new home.
#2: Pole pruner
Your next job is to look up. If you have a lot of overhanging tree branches, it's a good idea to trim them back. Not only will this allow in more sunlight, it will also prevent a bunch of leaves, fruit, or seedpods from pummeling your garden below. Pole pruners will allow you to trim back these branches without pulling out a ladder. These have a pruning saw on one end of the pole, and a pulley system on the other end that allows you to operate the saw. Make sure to stand clear of the branch and try to saw through it at joints, such as where it attaches to the trunk or an adjoining branch.
#3: Mechanical Cultivator
This is the darling of many gardeners. Cultivators, also known as automatic tillers, churn up and break up the soil so it is easier to work. This also allows moisture, oxygen, and plant roots to penetrate more easily. You will need to make a few passes with the cultivator. The first allows you to break up the soil and remove any large rocks. Then, a second pass finishes this job. Finally, add any compost or fertilizer and pass over one more time to ensure everything is full mixed into the garden bed. As a general guide, you should plan to cultivate the soil to a 12- to 18-inch depth just to make sure the soil drains well.
For more help or if you need access to this equipment, contact a garden equipment rental outlet near you.