The Q&A Archives: Where do I start?

Question: We just moved into our first house. My front yard was neglected for a long time and is pretty much dead and dry. I'd like to plant some annuals, but wondering if and how I should prepare the soil. I have already I need to buy potting soil? Fertilizer? Mulch? Can you tell I'm a beginner? By the way live in sunny Southern California. Please help!

Answer: Congratulations on completing the most difficult part of landscape rehabilitation - removing the weeds and debris from your proposed flower beds! Now that the hard work is almost finished, you can prepare the beds for planting. Start by spreading 3-4 inches of organic matter over the bed and digging it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. Use compost, aged manure, shredded leaves, or whatever organic matter is readily available in your area. After digging in the organic matter, level the soil and plant your favorite annuals. You can also mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter to help suppress weeds. At the end of the growing season dig the mulch into the soil and add some fresh mulch. Repeating this annually for the next few years will help you build your soil into rich garden loam, which will provide the perfect place for your plants to grow and result in beautiful annuals and perennials. Enjoy your garden!

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