The Q&A Archives: What Should I Do With An Overgrown Garden In My New Yard?

Question: I recently moved into a new house with existing flower beds and a small garden with nice raised beds. Right now, the beds are overgrown with weeds. It is already summer, and it's probably too late to plant vegetables (my goal for the spring). Should I just wait until the fall, till the soil, and work the existing foliage into the soil? Should I rid the area of weeds first? How should I prepare the soil for planting next spring?

Answer: It's usually better to control the weeds all season so that none of them set seed in the garden area, and so that no perennial types grab hold and become a problem later. You can also use the time to improve your soil. Most weeds can be smothered by cutting them off short (let the foliage fall in place, but remove any seeds), covering with several layers of wet newspaper and topping that with several inches of organic mulch such as shredded bark. When you are ready to work the soil the paper and mulch can be dug in as amendments. In the meantime, although it is always a good idea to add organic matter, you should run some basic soil tests and see what other amendments, if any, will need to be added. Your county extension (764-6300) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. Finally, you should be able to grow a lovely fall vegetable garden, so you might want to get started now.

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