The first step to proper bed preparation is to remove all existing unwanted vegetation such as grass or weeds from the area. This can be done physically or by the use of an herbicide such as glyphosate. It is essential to do a thorough job, since it will be far more difficult to control problem weeds after the beds have been planted.
The next step is to till the soil to loosen it. If you are working under a tree, use a pitchfork to minimize damage to the tree's roots. Avoid severing roots larger than an inch in diameter whenever possible. After the soil is broken up, spread 3 inches of organic matter (Living Earth Compost) over the surface and work it in. In a clay soil also add an additional 3 inches of Living Earth Expanded Shale. Finally, add an organic or time release fertilizer that will maintain the proper nutrients in the soil during the initial planting phase before the soil has had the time to find its natural balance. To be successful with vegetables and blooming annuals, fertilizer is essential. Now you are ready to plant.
One of the best management practices to improve or maintain optimum plant performance in a landscape is the use of mulch. With mulches properly applied, many soil and plant related benefits can be realized. Add new mulch to landscape beds once or twice a year. Benefits include: improving the appearance of bed areas, modifying the soil environment as they continue to decompose, moderating both hot and cold temperature extremes, deterring weed growth, and reducing watering needs. Organic mulches are by far preferential to inorganic ones since they ultimately decompose, returning valuable nutrients slowly to the soil.
Excellent organic mulches produced by Living Earth include Native Hardwood Mulch, Shredded Hardwood Bark Mulch, Cedar Mulch, Colored Mulches, Pecan Shell Mulch, or any other materials that will decompose over time and appears pleasing to you. Be careful not to pile mulch around the base of the plant or tree. This creates excessive water accumulation around the plant base and can cause root and stem rot problems.
Mulch all plantings to a depth of 3 inches. To repeat the benefits, mulch reduces soil moisture loss during dry periods, reduces soil temperature fluctuations, improves soil physical properties, suppresses weed growth, reduces soil erosion potential, and just plain looks good.
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