How to Renovate Strawberry Beds

Strawberry fruit hanging on thin stem under strawberry leaves

The Spruce / Heidi Kolsky

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $20

Although strawberry plants are considered perennial, they are most productive in their first five years. With a little yearly maintenance, you can keep them bearing well longer. The best way to keep a strawberry bed going is to renovate it by thinning the existing plants and allowing runners to root and become new plants.

Do You Have to Renovate Strawberry Beds?

You don't absolutely have to renovate strawberry beds. Many gardeners don't find it worth the effort and either grow strawberries as annuals or simply add a few new plants each year while taking out the under-performing plants.

You could even grow your strawberries in containers. It's a good idea to start with new plants each year, but they'd be easier to plant and you could keep them within arms reach.

If you do not renovate the bed and leave it be for several years, the plants will form a thick mass, choking themselves out. Eventually, they will stop producing strawberries. Renovation is recommended annually for June-bearing strawberries and every two to four years for day-neutral and everbearing. For reference, check out the different types of strawberry plants.

Strawberry plants produce best when they are young. However, they conveniently send out runners that will become new plants. So thinning out the older plants while allowing the new ones created from runners to fill in will keep your strawberry patch in continual production. You only have to thin them once a year.

When to Renovate Strawberry Beds

Wait until after you harvest to do any renovation. After the berries ripen and are picked, the plants are in a semi-dormant stage. This is the best time to move them.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Lawn mower
  • Hand cultivator or tiller


  • Appropriate fertilizer
  • Fresh soil


Materials and tools to renovate strawberry beds

The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  1. Weed the Bed

    After you pick the last of the season's strawberries, weed the bed by pulling out anything that shouldn't be there.


    You should keep the bed weeded all year, but it's even more important when you are getting ready to renovate. Your plants will have an easier time becoming established if they do not have to compete with weeds for water and nutrients. It's also easier to work in a weed-free bed.

    Tiller removing weeds and soil from strawberry beds

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  2. Remove the Leaves

    Remove all the leaves before new growth starts. You do not have to do this by hand; instead, you can use a lawn mower. Set it high enough so the leaves are clipped but the crowns are untouched. This step isn't crucial unless your plants have a lot of leaf disease but it will help to regenerate the planting for even vibrant and healthy plants.

    Strawberry plant leaves cut off with garden snippers

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  3. Cultivate Between Rows

    Cultivate or till between the rows of strawberry plants, removing any plants that have strayed too far out of the row, so that the remaining rows are thinned or reduced to about 12 inches wide.

    Soil between strawberry beds being cultivated with small hand fork

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  4. Thin Out the Bed

    Thin the remaining plants to about 4 to 6 inches between each plant. The remaining plants will send out runners that will develop into new, more productive plants.

    Strawberry plants spaced out in garden with fresh soil

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  5. Apply Fertilizer

    Side-dress each row with a complete fertilizer and a 1/2 to 1-inch layer of soil.

    Complete fertilizer spread across strawberry bed

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

  6. Water the Plants

    Water thoroughly and make sure the bed gets at least 1 inch of water each week afterward.

    Strawberry bed with small plantings and flowers being watered

    The Spruce / Steven Merkel

An Alternative Way to Renovate the Beds

An alternative approach is to lift and replant the rooted runners in the early fall. This will give them time to become established and they will be ready to produce strawberries next season.