Which Is The Best Way To Prepare Your Flower Bed?

Which is the best way to prepare your flower bed? Methods for preparing your flower bed and its soil before you begin planting your garden. Well, in my mind, if you're trying to make a bed in a place where...

Well, in my mind, if you're trying to make a bed in a place where there isn't one, the first thing would be removing the grass. There are several methods of doing that. Some grasses respond pretty well to just being dug out with a shovel. With some you have to do what's called solarization, which is where you lay plastic on top of it to kill the grass. That can take several months, depending on the time of year.

We're a primarily organic nursery. I've been into organics the entire 13 years I've been gardening in Austin. One of the few inorganic products we sell is an herbicide because some grasses, like Bermuda, you can't dig out. If you try to dig it out, you usually end up making the problem worse. When you cut the runners, which are called stolens, that produces a new plant. They can run as deep as 12 inches underground. So the idea of being able to dig all that out is flawed and almost impossible to do. So one of the reasons we carry this inorganic herbicide is because we'll try to explain to someone that you can solarize this, but it takes anywhere from two to four months depending on the time of year. Most people's reaction to that is, "I don't want to wait." If we have to sell an inorganic product, at least we can educate (our customers) on how to use it properly, effectively and with the least environmental impact, whereas, if they go to a big (franchise) store, the chances of them learning how to use it are relatively slim and they have more of a chance of harming surrounding plants or the environment.

Q: Does the "lazy bed" method of flower bed preparation, where you lay down newspaper and cover it with a mixture compost and topsoil in the fall, work well?

A: It's very similar to solarization. The idea is to deprive the plants of light so that they eventually fail. I can tell you that there's no doubt in my mind that Bermuda grass will grow right up through the newspaper!

It is a process that will work, particularly if you just have a bunch of broad-leafed weeds in an area. It would work moderately well on St. Augustine, but if it's a nice, healthy, established bit of St. Augustine, I think digging it out would probably be a much quicker and easier solution. But if you have an area that's relatively clear of grasses and you just have a few weeds, that process would definitely work well.

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