Ask a Question forum: Renovating A Perennial Bed

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Apr 19, 2018 12:13 AM CST
My perennial flowerbed along the fence has pretty much died out after 25 years. There are good spots like the Stokes asters that seem to live in their place forever, and the Autumn Joy sedum are sprouting again, but the rest is failed. The buddleia even finally died. I went to prune them this Spring and the stems just broke at ground-level in my hands.

So I think I need to just re-do it all. It's going to be careful shovel-work. There is some Brunerra HERE and some Asters THERE, and I need to see where the new Columbines are coming up. I don't want to lose successful plants.

But what I really want to do is clear the whole 70'x8' bed and till it deeply with new compost and start over. It was great for 25 years. If I can redo it for another 25 years, I won't have to worry about it after that. I'm 67. LOL!

The problem is that I need to build a temporary nursery for the plants that are doing well but need to be moved for a couple weeks. Or should I just try to rototill around them?

The background shrubs are Eonymous and I'm tired of them. I might take cuttings and start them along the far back fence. But I want to move/increase Nandinas along the flowerbed fence as the backdrop this time.. I have a dozen shoots of them around the more mature plants and they seem to accept transplanting. And they look good to me all year round, reaching just the height of the fence where they currently exist in a corner.

So, any advice on renovating a large flowerbed with some stuff that has died but some stuff that is thriving? Can I move perennials at this late date?
Name: Janett
Gamleby, SWEDEN
Janett_D
Apr 19, 2018 1:31 AM CST
I did that with a flowerbed as the soil was to bad to use long time. I didn't have enough pots and they are expensive so I bought some very cheap plastic buckets and drilled holes in the bottom. had them in my basement the whole winter and all survived so to keep them a few weeks in the buckets wouldn't be a problem. To rototill around them... I wouldn't do that as its to easy to trash the good plants.
Also my buckets will be perfect for overwinter plants that can stand our winters.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Apr 19, 2018 7:01 AM CST
Yardenman - it depends on how long you think the soil remediation project should take. If it's only going to be a few days you could dig up the perennials, place them on a tarp and fold over the tarp to protect them. Should help prevent them from drying out. I'd dig up most of the perennials so that you end up with an evenly amended bed rather than rototill around them, possibly damaging roots or high and low spots.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Apr 19, 2018 10:40 AM CST
Yardman, have found that digging over and replanting an established perennial bed can be more involved than putting in a new one with new perennials.

Am sure, however, that here, breaking up/renovating the clay soil and working in weed-free organic material is key in both cases.

I regularly overwinter divisions of perennial plants in our garden soil in half- and one-gallon nursery pots. However, within the time frame you mention, Cindy's tarp suggestion seems practical.

I also strongly agree with both above about digging up all (or at least most - depends on root depth) of the plants, with division as required and then replanting; that is not just working on soil remediation around the herbaceous plants.
[Last edited by SunnyBorders - Apr 19, 2018 10:42 AM (+)]
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