The Q&A Archives: Overgrown Lily Bed

Question: I have an established lily garden across the back of my vegetable garden. All bloom early summer (bad planning) and they grow very thick (bad planting) but they do VERY well! The weeds and crab grass have become worse and worse. When I try to dig the weeds out I harm, cut, and ruin the bulbs. But the weeds are bad. What do I do?

Answer: Lilies can grow into impressive sized clumps and should be divided after a few years to give them elbow room and to promote lots of blooms. Since the bed is in need of renovation, why not roll up your sleeves and attack the problem from the ground up? Use a fork instead of a shovel, and dig up the clumps of lilies. Remove the weeds, including their roots, from both the bed and the clumps of lilies. Divide the lilies, making sure no weed roots cling to them. Then dig some organic matter into the bed, replant the lilies, and place a thick layer of organic mulch over the bed. The mulch will help suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, and release nutrients as it decomposes. After all your hard work, you shouldn't have to deal with weeds for a long time to come.

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