The Q&A Archives: starting from scratch

Question: The yard at my new home has had no care in years. It is completely overrun with weeds (I don't think there's any actual grass there at all). Where do I start? I would eventually like to have a lawn, as well as some flower beds and a small vegetable garden. But step 1 is what to do about those weeds.

Answer: There are a couple of options for you. You can kill the weeds with a vegetation killer (such as Round Up) and then rototill the area, raking out the dead vegetation, or you can simply rototill the area and rake out all of the weeds. I'd vote for the second option because once the ground is tilled and the weeds raked, you can plant immediately. With the chemical weed control, there is a waiting period before planting. I would till the area, rake out the debris, spread 4-5" of organic matter over the top (compost, etc.) then dig it in to a depth of 8", rake the area level and plant. The organic matter will loosen the soil and help it hold moisture, making a great place for the roots of your new plants. Choose plants that thrive in the sun exposure your new flower bed will receive. Whether it is full sun or part shade, you'll find lots and lots of plants adapted to the sun exposure. Best wishes with your new garden!

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