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new flower bed - Sarina - 12-01-2006

I am connecting two beds with a new one. It will be under a crepe myrtle tree with lots of shade. I have taken off the grass layer, and need advice as to the next step. Do I need to round up before I add the next layer? I want to include compost, but don't know if I can get it mixed with topsoil. I can wait to plant in it if I need to.

Re: new flower bed - IntrepidMeredith - 12-01-2006

What I've usually done is mix in the compost as well as I can, put in the plants, and then mulch like crazy. Some weeds do come up, but they're always pretty wimpy/spindly and easy to pull out. An alternative would be to add the compost, put down landscape fabric, add the plants, and, again, mulch.

I, personally, would avoid using the RoundUp, in part because I'd be afraid of damaging the crepe myrtle tree, and also because I usually try to avoid such harsh, broad spectrum chemicals in general. But again, that's a personal preference.

Re: new flower bed - KimmSr - 12-02-2006

There was no real reason to remove the grass, all you needed to do was cover it with newspaper and cover the newspaper with a mulch. However, since the grass is gone there is no reason now to use any plant killer since all plant killers need to be absorbed by the plants tissue to get into the roots to kill them.
Whether you even need to till the compost in will depend on your soil type, most of the time you can plunk your compost down on top of the soil and cover it with some mulch and the soil bacteria will work that in for you. Some few clays do need tilling, however.

Re: new flower bed - IntrepidMeredith - 04-26-2007

KimmSr, I read your reply and did a Homer Simpson, "D'oh!" complete with head slap. I have a mature maple tree with surface roots that are a pain to mow over/around, and have been wanting for years to turn the area under the tree into a garden that won't need mowing. However, I was always too daunted by the prospect of trying to rip out all that grass from around the roots & trunk (we're talking about a 16'/5m diameter circle here). Newspapers and mulch -- D'oh!

So I covered it all up last weekend, and it looks great! I'll wait until this fall to put in some bulbs, then new perennials/ground covers next year. That gives the grass a chance to DIE, the newspaper a chance to decompose, and I won't have so much to squeeze into this year's already cramped gardening schedule.

(Although, I'll admit that seeing all that bare mulch out there is just making my fingers itch to put *something* into it! I'll try to 'contain' myself by using only container plantings this summer, but I can already tell it's going to be hard. My head is already bursting with design ideas, so maybe a one-year moratorium on planting will help me refine things into something a bit more well-thought out and balanced. Rats! :-) )

Re: new flower bed - IntrepidMeredith - 05-05-2007

I decided to continue this process in another area of my yard and ran out of newspapers. Sad Fortunately, cut open paper grocery bags seem to work just as well -- maybe even better!