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Dug out a bed - now what?

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Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Goldens » Jun 03, 2011 3:25 pm

I know this is a simplistic question for most of you but I would really appreciate your guidance.

Today I spent about 5 hours digging out the weeds, sod, etc from one of my perennial beds. I still have peonies and lillies at one end and tiger lilies at the other.

There are still some remants left in the bed but I was hoping I could use a smothering method to kill the rest off. I want to plant some other perennials in the newly dug area.

Am I right in thinking I should cover the area with landscaping fabric, then new topsoil, then plant, then mulch? Or am I creating more steps than I need to or have I missed something?

Thanks!
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Elena Zimmerman » Jun 03, 2011 3:56 pm

I'd alternate a layer of compost with a layer of topsoil, and throw in bone meal and pit moss. I know, it doesn't exactly simplify the process, but seeing you are probably going for perennials it won't hurt :)
Gardening in Calgary, AB, Zone 3, Chinook conditions
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Goldens » Jun 03, 2011 4:07 pm

Sorry, I'm so new at this - do you mean mix the bone meal and peat moss into the top soil? Then put a layer of mulch then another layer of top soil then more mulch? Would you skip the landscaping fabric?
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby B_BQ » Jun 03, 2011 5:56 pm

I've been looking for pics of a project I did a couple of years ago, but can't find them just now. I'll continue looking and will post if and when I do find them!

I made a completely new planting area by:

1. I dug holes through the grass quite deeply, and added good soil to the holes.
2. I then planted my perennials and shrubs directly into the holes.
3. I covered the area with landscape fabric, cutting Xs in the fabric for the perennials and shrubs.
4. I then put a thick layer of mulch over the fabric - about 3" thick.
5. I use woodland mulch.
6. Everything grew very well. The grass was completely smothered out but the perennials and shrubs grew.

~BBQ
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Elena Zimmerman » Jun 06, 2011 8:35 am

Mulch just goes on top, I alternate the layers of the top soil and compost. I add pit moss and bone meal in the very top layer of compost.

As for planting directly in the lawn, that could work if you are lucky to live in an old established area, where the good soil is deep. If you are in a new subdivision, where the idea of soil is the clay dug out of your basement put directly on the bedrock and sprinkled with the pre-requisit 6" of topsoil and covered with the grass, it is better to build the raised beds :) Just dig your spade in, and you will know pretty fast what you've got!
Gardening in Calgary, AB, Zone 3, Chinook conditions
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby B_BQ » Jun 06, 2011 8:52 am

I agree with you Elena.
In my case, our lawn literally only has about 2", (and that's being generous), of topsoil under it. Put a shovel into it and you hit lots of rocks. The soil is clay, and I mean thick, grey, sticky stuff. When it rains the water just sits on top! :roll:
It took me a long time to dig about 6 holes, using a crowbar at times to lever the rocks out, and I made the holes as large as I could before putting in some good triple mix in which to actually plant the shrubs I was planning.
I have mostly shrubs; Japanese Variegated Maple, Elderberry, (Green and Black), a climbing rose and clematis on an archway at the edge of the area, (where it isn't quite so wet), and another large tub of clematis which I bury in the spring and haul out in the winter because it wouldn't survive the spring floods! :roll: I did plant a Rugosa rose, but it didn't survive.
This is also the area I bury my Brugmansia. It's hard work digging the holes for the pots, but the Brugs seem to like it there. Sunshine and moisture!
~BBQ
Zone 5b
South/Central Ontario

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day
~ Author Unknown
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Goldens » Jun 06, 2011 9:17 am

The bed was already there, just covered in beds between and around the perennials. So I didn't cut the sod from the grass - I just dug up as many weeds and cut through as many roots as I could manage. The soil that's left isn't very nice. It's too low (I have a rounded concrete edhing along the bed, still has some remants in it and is stocky, Manitoba gumbo.

Couldn't I put the landscape fabric on top of that, then a layer of top soil then a layer of mulch so the new plants are rooted in the new soil rather than the lousy soil under the fabric?

Also how do you cut slits for the existing plants since you have to put the fabric around them? I can't go over top of the existing plants because the hold in the fabric would be far too big but I don't understand how you butt up the fabric against an exsting plant, cut slits for the plant then get the rest of the fabric around the back of the plant?
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Elena Zimmerman » Jun 06, 2011 10:27 am

You can definetly do that, just pick the plants with the shallow roots that tend to spread out, rather than dig in. :)

I can't reeally tell you anything on the landscaper fabric, I never went around the existing plants, sorry!
Gardening in Calgary, AB, Zone 3, Chinook conditions
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Smitty » Jun 06, 2011 12:49 pm

if you have that lovely Manitoba gumbo (I'm fortunate I don't) you'll want peat moss and lots of peat moss...dug into that bed..
Not a fan of landscaping fabric or that bark mulch.

personally...I'd dig it up and get rid of as many weeds as I could and then dig in a ton of peat moss and manure and plant away
""Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
Smitty BBS :-)
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Re: Dug out a bed - now what?

Postby Elena Zimmerman » Jun 06, 2011 3:15 pm

So would I! This year I am adding a lot of pit moss to see if I can do that and a topdressing of composted manure instead of a cedar mulch.
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