The Q&A Archives: Planning Planting Beds

Question: I am puting in many new planting beds in a house we just purchased. However I don't have nearly enough plants yet to fill all of them and was hoping to do it gradually. What can I do to maintain the soil in the areas where there will be no plants for a few months to a year to prevent weeds and keep it in good condition?

Answer: I would suggest a good mulch. Two options would be to use newspaper and organic mulch, or a landscape fabric with either organic or rock mulch.

The first option is quite simple and inexpensive. Simply cover the area with about 6 sheets of newspaper, wetting the paper as you go to prevent them from blowing away. Follow this step with a cover of shredded leaves, compost, bark chips or another available organic mulch. The paper will take several months to decompose, giving you quite good weed control in the meantime.

Options two is also simple but lasts longer and involves some expense. There are several "weed block" fabrics on the market which will do a great job in preventing most weeds in a landscape bed. These fabrics are usually covered with bark chips or a rock mulch to hide them and make the bed aesthetically more pleasing. When it is time to plant, you can move the mulch back, cut the fabric and insert a tree or shrub. Look for these weed block fabrics in your local garden centers.

Thanks for the question!

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