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Is there anything I can do now...

Posted by jmckemie 7 Douglas Co, GA (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 1, 08 at 19:57

to prepare areas for plants this fall and for next year? I have several areas that I want to put different plants, but I don't know what exactly I want and I know the area needs a lot of work, but I'm not exactly sure what to do. Some areas are overgrown with monkey grass, others are barren except for the weeds....

I read somewhere about when starting a new plot, laying down newspaper and then covering it with dirt or something would help prepare the ground for later.

I'm an utter novice in the garden with all sorts of grand plans and no idea how to get started....

If some kind soul would be so generous as to offer a couple of suggestions or point me in the right direction or to a good resource, I would be eternally grateful.

If it helps, I intend to put in a number of hydrangeas, butterfly bushes and other plants in the "cottage" and "butterfly" theme.

Thank you!!!!!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is there anything I can do now...

I believe you are referring to "lasagna" gardening. From what I understand (someone else may know more than I do about this) you put down newspapers or cardboard, wet it thoroughly, and then start putting layers of whatever you have that will compost... Old leaves, grass clippings, veggie peels, coffee grounds, peat moss, etc. It will break down and decompose, making a good place to grow things without lots of digging. Gardenweb has a couple of forums that have really good threads about this, seems like maybe Organic gardening and Accessible gardening forums. You can go there and do a search for "lasagna gardening". Hope this helps. Vicki

RE: Is there anything I can do now...

Hi Jen, yes, what you are referring to is commonly called 'lasagna gardening' and you can find a ton of stuff on the internet on this. There are a few ways you can do this. One is to mark the area to be made into a garden with a hose or spray paint or flour, anything. Then spray the area with a product like Roundup, per label directions, being careful not to get the Roundup or have it drift on a windy day onto any desirable plants. You can read about how roundup works by doing a google search. many gardeners consider it a somewhat benign product. (But there is a better way, read all the way to end.) After a couple weeks I think (read the label) all will be dead and you can start your layering with cardboard or newspaper (wet it well) and cover with organic matter or compost or hay or straw (one has more of a chance for seeds to come up - hay? I think) which will decompose over a season. Many people put the layers down in fall and garden is ready in spring. It takes a few months. On the other hand, some people plant right in the organic matter. you can definitely plant into compost. The key to planting right away is to build the garden up to a raised bed or mound, and plant things that are not needing to go very deep right away. Like annuals or perennials. If, like me, you don't like to use chemicals of any kind, you can just mow the area very short and then lay your cardboard, newspaper, organics etc without first applying a herbicide. I like this way best. The key is to make sure the papers overlap and there are no little cracks for the weeds to come thru, they will find any little bit of sunlite. If you have ever laid a bag of soil or mulch down on grass and come back to move it a few days later, you can see that it kills the grass from lack of light. Laying old carpet down will kill the grass underneath too, but then you would have to come and lay on the orgamic matter which is so important to healthy plants. Sorry so long, hope this helps.

RE: Is there anything I can do now...

This method absolutely works. I have used it twice in two different yards, both times on hardpan clay, once with so many roots you couldn't put a shovel down two inches. Both times at the end of the six months, I could step on the shovel and it would go down a foot with no effort whatsoever. Amazing! When you lay your newspaper, you should have ten sheets thick. Avoid using the slick colored pages of newspaper "magazines" and advertisements. They don't decompose well. Lg was right. Make sure you overlap your seams well so no light can get in. Mark your edge carefully and weigh down the paper right to the edge. It takes about six months for mother nature to do her thing, but when she's done, you will be ready to plant. I try to add about a foot of organic material to the pile: leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste, etc. I don't recommend hay. It is so full of seeds, and six months may not be long enough for them to all die. If I were you, I would start this process in the early fall, when the weather begins to cool. Get your paper down, then as leaves need raking, you know where to put them. Add to the pile all through the fall and winter. Then in the spring, when there are plenty of plants to be had at the garden centers, you're ready to go.

Use the time between now and fall to plan your bed layouts. I like to draw a new bed to scale on graph paper. Then decide what Plants (and other things like bird baths or statuary) you want the bed to contain. Draw those plants (mature size) onto the paper and you will know exactly how deep to make the bed.

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