How to - Techniques

Three ways to prepare your planting beds

Karen York
Photography by
Cybèle Young (illustrations)

Determine what kind of garden you need and use these tips to get it ready for new plants

prepare-your-bed-2.jpgPreparing raised beds
Raised beds are essentially boxes, usually made of wood, brick or stone and filled with soil, allowing you to make up the ideal soil mix from the start. Good for sites with lousy drainage, boxes have the added advantage
of heating up earlier in spring and being more accessible to tend. They can be any length but keep them less than 1.5 metres across so you can easily reach the middle from either side. After you build your desired box, put a layer of landscape fabric or cardboard at the bottom, especially if there are trees or a hedge nearby, to prevent invading roots. Fill with a good-quality soil enriched with compost or well-rotted manure, water and let it settle for a day or two before planting, topping it up as needed.

Subsequent prep depends on what you’re growing. Veggies and annuals can be cleared out and the soil refreshed with organic matter, while perennials and shrubs can have an annual top-dressing of it. After two or three years, the plants will likely need dividing or transplanting, so take that opportunity to thoroughly turn over and replenish the soil.

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