New Flower Bed Woes - Knowledgebase Question

New Providence, PA
Question by jillwelch
October 1, 1998
Hello, I had just moved into a new home, problem is no one ever took care of the lawn, I have weeds all over, I wanted to plant mums and the ground is horrible. Question is, how do I make the ground more plant friendly and get rid of the weeds, I put mulch down and they come right over the mulch. Please help.

Answer from NGA
October 1, 1998


Soil building is always an ongoing process and the weed battle is always the worst in the first year or two of a new garden so don't despair!

The best thing to do when starting a new garden bed is to run some basic soil tests so you will know which amendments (if any) are needed. Your County Extension (394-6851) can help with the tests and interpreting the results. Usually it is at least suggested to add copious amounts of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure or leaf mold or even mushroom soil to improve the structure of the soil.

Prior to preparing the bed for planting you need to decide on how to cope with the weeds. If they are mostly annual weeds you can remove and bury the sod under the bed or compost it to return to the garden later; if they are mostly perennial weeds you will need to smother them with a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper topped with a heavy layer of mulch (this takes months and works best during hot weather) or use a chemical control such as glyphosate according to the label directions. Unfortunately, this works best during a time when plants are actively growing so it may be a bit late in the season to try it.

If your currently mulched spot is not too weed infested, you may be able to hand pull or dig out the weeds, then improve that soil as indicated by the soil tests and still put in your mums this fall. Good luck with your new garden!

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