• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to improve curb appeal with a new planting bed.

    1. Trim overgrown branches with bypass pruners. Hold the pruner with its sharpened blade facing the plant to avoid crushing the branch end.
    2. Don't cut in the middle of a branch. Make the cut just above a live leaf.
    3. Continue pruning overgrown branches from the plant. Toss the trimmed branches onto a plastic tarp for easy pick up.
    4. To remove a large foundation plant, use chainsaw to cut the trunk flush with the ground. This technique eliminates having to dig out the entire trunk and root system.
    5. Enlarge the planting bed by cutting back the grass with a square-blade shovel. Toss the excavated sod into a wheelbarrow and then dump it into a compost pile.
    6. Set new potted plants in the planting bed, spacing them the proper distance apart.
    7. Use pointed shovel to dig planting holes for the new plants. Dig each hole twice as wide as the plant's root ball, but no deeper than the root-ball height.
    8. Pull the plants from the pots and use a three-tine claw to loosen the root ball.
    9. Set plant into the hole and backfill with soil.
    10. For burlap-wrapped plants, use bolt cutters to snip off the wire basket. Then remove the burlap to expose the root ball.
    11. Set the plant into the hole, making sure you don't bury the root flare, which starts just above the root ball.
    12. Use the three-tine claw to loosen the root ball, then backfill around the plant.
    13. Spread 2 inches of pine-bark mulch around all the plants, but be careful not to pile up the mulch against the trunks.
    14. Water the plants twice a week for the first two weeks, and then once a week thereafter.
    • Difficulty: Easy
      Requires a lot of kneeling, but the work isn't too strenuous
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      Video Directory

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      Tools List

      • bypass pruners
        Bypass pruners
      • chain saw
      • square shovel
        Square-blade shovel
      • hand cultivator
        Three-tine claw
      • pointed shovel
        Pointed shovel
      • bolt cutter
        Bolt cutter
      • wheelbarrow
      • tarp
        Plastic tarp

      Shopping List

      Assorted flowering plants and shrubs