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Easy Flower Bed

It is said that one of the many benefits of growing older is gaining wisdom. When you are young and have lots of enthusiasm it is not hard (we actually considered it fun) to put in a new flower bed simply by laying it out, removing the grass, covering the ground and then tilling and amending the soil before we even started planting. Older and far wiser people have discovered new and easier ways to make a new bed. Both use similar techniques and the one you choose to use will be determined by either cost or time constraints and how you plan on using the bed.

Both techniques begin the same process which follows:
First, determine the layout and location of your bed. Once this has been done, outline the bed on the ground. The simplest methods for doing this are by using a rope, a garden hose, spray paint or some similar means of temporarily marking the ground. Clean the designated area throughly then set your lawnmower at it lowest setting and mow any grass inside the marked bed area. Do not worry about removing the grass clippings as they will soon be covered up and then will begin to break down which helps to improve the soil. Now begin covering the entire bed with a thick layer of newspapers. You want the thickness to be 6 to 7 pages thick. In most cases this will be an entire section of the paper.  Newsprint is actually better for this process than glossy advertising pullouts.  As you lay down the newspaper, wet them with a hose and walk on them to keep them from blowing away. When the whole bed area has been covered with the dampened newspapers, walk around on the newspapers to make sure they are in contact with the ground.

The next steps you take are dependent on the use, cost or time constraints that you are dealing with for the new bed.

The first technique is great for laying out a bed for spring bulbs without the hassle of digging holes or if you want to put in a raised bed, but can get costly if you have to purchase soil. Cover the newspaper with about one inch of compost. If you want to plant spring bulbs, begin placing the bulbs according to your design plan. Once all of the bulbs have been placed, they can then be covered with 6 to 8 inches of soil. You can then add any other annual or perennial plants called for in the bed design. 

Please note that the exception to the planting rule for this type of bed is when you plan on planting trees or shrubs which require a planting depth of more than 6 to 8 inches.  These trees or shrubs need to be planted before the newspapers are laid down, then you would lay the newspapers up almost to the trunks or stems of the plants. Make sure you plant the root ball high enough in the ground to allow for the additional soil you will be adding to the entire area. You should never plant the root flare of a plant below ground level as it weakens the plant and allows for disease or insects to attack and damage the plant.

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