Last year I decided that the south side of my yard around the house was a problem area. No matter how much water I poured on this spot, it never looked as good as the grass around it. So I thought I would add a small island bed to this part of my yard. See THIS post. I used hose to outline it and after a week of playing with the shape I outlined it with marking paint an begged my husband to till it up for me. I removed all the sod pieces and started adding compost. Lots of compost. I then added rocks to the border, weed cloth and bark mulch.
Then, because I can never wait to do things at the appropriate time, I started planting it. I found that a lot of mail order catalog companies also sell on Ebay under a different name for a lot less. A lot less. I also found that lots of people with big gardens also will sell their divisions on Ebay for pennies on the dollar. I started ordering and planting in the heat of the summer. I figured that if I could get 75% of it to come back this year I was golden.
I would say 'Mission Accomplished'. I think I lost a few things. A Honeycomb Butterfly Bush, which blooms yellow and I am sorry about that. A rose bush and a few others. I planted so many things I will have to consult my planting map to be sure of what did not make it. I had put all the hoses away in the fall and then it dried out long before it ever got wet again, I am pretty sure most of the casualties were my fault. I just know I have some holes where there is nothing and I will plant these from seed. I planted more shrubby type things in the middle of the bed and tried to graduate the sizes to the edges all the way around. As soon as the rain lets up for a minute I will head out and edge this bed with the technique you all suggested. I have already done this to several other beds and it looks very nice. Wish I had known this sooner. Live and learn!