Answer: Mulch is spread on top of the soil surface. The mulch helps to keep down weeds, helps keep the soil moister during dry spells, and also helps feed the soil gradually over time as it breaks down. To prepare for planting, you would first run some basic soil tests to check fertility and soil pH levels.
Then rake aside the mulch and save it to re-use later on. Loosen the soil down about six inches for annuals, a foot for perennials. Work in several inches of organic matter such as compost. Also add fertilizer and/or lime as indicated by the soil tests. Then level the area and rake the surface smooth. Now you are ready to plant your flowers.
After planting, water the flowers thoroughly, then replace the mulch around them in a flat layer. It should be about two to three inches thick and it should not touch their stems. Periodically you will need to fluff the mulch by raking it and then top it up as needed to keep it at two to three inches thick.
I should mention that mid to late summer is a very stressful time to plant. If you can wait until early September, that would be a better planting season. Enjoy your new home and flower beds!
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