The Q&A Archives: Preparing The Soil

Question: On either side of the walkway to the front door is two sections for a bed. The builder had only put down plastic and covered it with rocks. I have removed those and wanted to planted some shrubs and flowers. How deep do I need to loosen up the soil, should I also add additional topsoil and a weed guard as well?

Answer: You can amend the soil by spreading 3"-4" of organic matter (aged-compost, aged-manure or leaf mold) over the soil surface and digging it in to a depth of about 8". This will loosen the soil, help it retain moisture, and provide nutrients to the roots as the organic matter breaks down. After planting you can put additional organic matter around the plants to help suppress weeds. Or, you can cover the bed with a weed barrier, cut holes for the plants, then finish the job by hiding the weed barrier with chipped bark or stones.

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