The thought of a beautiful perennial flower bed blooming elegantly in our gardens is enough to bring a smile to the face especially in the middle of winter when our thought often wander to planning the new years garden. It may seem like a simple matter of choosing a spot digging it up and amending the soil and you are ready to grow. A properly prepared flower bed is a bit more involved than that especially when dealing with perennial flower beds. Before you even turn over the dirt there are steps to be taken that are essential if you want your bed to be successful and low maintenance.
Preparation Is The Key To A Successful Perennial Flower Bed
Perennial flower beds are usually planted and then not disturbed for a few years so it is important that you prepare the site properly to avoid problems down the road.
- The first step is the most time consuming but it is critical, so to shortcut here is not suggested. Before you even start to turn over the soil you must get rid of all perennial weeds first. The weeds may be removed manually, mechanically, or with chemicals. If you choose chemical use a non selective systemic herbicide and spray the area then wait two weeks and see that the plants are dying if some are still alive then you will need to make a second application. An alternative is to cover the area for two weeks with a piece of black plastic. After two weeks uncover the area for two weeks to see if any new plants germinate. Then cover for two more weeks.This will help to burn up the plants from the high heat generated by the sun beating down on the plastic. The last method involves tilling and will require you roto till the area every week for six to eight weeks until you see no more plant growth. Remember do not be in too much of a hurry or you will be fighting weeds while you really just want to grow perennials.
- Once you are reasonably sure the weeds have been eliminated it is time to test your soil and amend it. You can contact your local cooperative extension service for a soil test kit and they will do a test for a small amount. Take a spoonful of soil from several different areas of the bed,mix them together and ship them off. You will receive your results in about two weeks or so. They report will tell you if any macro or micro nutrients will be needed and you should also add compost to help amend the soil.
- The final step is to be sure the bed is well drained if it it needs amending 4″ to 5 ” of compost will help the soil to become better drained. If the bed is in a low lying area you will need to raise it using timbers,rocks,or blocks to ensure that water drain quickly and does not saturate the soil rotting your plants.
While the above steps may seem time consuming you will be very thankful when you are not trying to keep the weeds at bay while establishing your plants. A final consideration is that when planting choose plants with the same requirements so that they will do well in the same bed. Oh and don’t forget the mulch 3″ to 4″ will not only cut down on watering it will help keep new weeds at bay.