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is this a good plan to prep garden bed?

Hi everyone,

I have been searching this online before I came here but have not found definitive suggestions, so if anyone could give their opinion, I'd appreciate it.
We inherited a nice area for a garden bed about 12' x 3' but it is filled with weeds each summer. I am thinking of digging out abut 2 feet down & laying down a weed fabric to prevent them from popping up. Then filling with garden bed soil & planting in that. I want to do some veggies & companion flowers.

Right behind this area is a chain link fence & a space between this fence & neighbor's fence about 1 foot along the length of the garden bed. This space is filled to the brim with weeds & ivy & who knows what else that I am constantly having to cut back. I can't get to this area to dig out or treat.

Does this sound like a good enough plan? I would prefer to plant right into this space rather than use pots or raised bed btw.

Thanks all!

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I like sheet mulching with cardboard smothering base for most weeds and lawn. Lay down flattened cardboard, overlapping well to avoid any openings that creeping underground stolons could sneak through. In the back area where you don't plan on planting anything, I'd layer two for good measure, but underneath the planting bed, one layer is probably better.

I don't have the strength to till or dig deep or a lot, so this is the easy way. For my clay subsoil, I fork the area -- stick garden fork in and tilt to lift and aerate but NOT dig up -- first. Water the area well and add pH amendments like lime. I pile any weed suspect material like more mature weed that may develop seeds under the cardboard, wet down the cardboard, then mulch in layers, finishing with weed free soilmix on top.

The cardboard will break down eventually, but most weeds unless exceptionally Hardy and persistent will be smothered and die. If roots of your current year's planting reach the unbroken down mulch and cardboard, they will suffer nitrogen deprivation and the plants will turn yellow. It's better to prepare this kind of bed at least 6 weeks prior to planting unless you can provide 4-6 inches of good soil on top.

Susan W
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Location: Memphis, TN

I would do similar, perhaps not as rigorous as Apple's suggestions.
After a rain, or water well a few hours-day before, go in and dig out weeds. I'm an up close and personal person and get down with the hand cultivator. If the weeds are pop-up opportunists, should pull right out after loosening with cultivator. I trash baggy them as my compost doesn't get hot. If it is deep rooted, try to dig it out. Add some amendments and freshen the bed, and plant! You can build a barrier between bed and lawn with extra mulch, say 6 - 8" wide, few inches deep.

If the area hasn't been used and tilled for a few years, perhaps go with the cardboard etc. I use 3 layers newspaper and build up. If it is an annual thing, know that weeds happen. Try to keep the bed clean during the season, and mulch in the fall. That can be turned in come next spring.

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Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Ideally, there would be space to around the bed. One foot isn't a whole lot of room for maintenance.

After the weeds are pulled, put down weed cloth along that space between the fence and the garden bed and mulch it heavily. Weeds will still pop up but weeds on top of the mulch will be easier to pull out and thick mulch will slow the weeds from germinating. Ideally, I would like to have 2-3 ft as a maintenance path.

I made this same mistake when I built my raised bed. Mine was up against a tile wall with no space to get behind it. It wasn't that deep, but I still had to go into the bed to get the weeds and most plants except Vanda and night blooming cereus would grow away from the wall since tile heats up a lot on hot summer days and the wall cast shadows on the bed so very little actually grew near the wall itself besides weeds. I only have potted citrus in that bed now along with a lot of weeds and orchids on the garden bed wall.

Add a lot of organic matter to the bed, it will help hold on to moisture and keep the soil loose.

Also add an irrigation system attached to a faucet timer or even a soaker hose will work, to make watering easier.

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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:13 pm
Location: NYC

Sorry for the late thanks to everyone. I think I will go the route of mulching. I did get all the weeds out & dug out some depth & prepared the bed. I am sure applestar's suggestions are excellent, but I don't have it in me to prepare that well lol. Thanks a bunch!

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I would dig half the bed top layer and put it on top of a pile or in a container . After the top 10 inches top soil is taken from half the bed I would dig down another 10 inches and keep that top soil. Now place the top soil from the top 10 inches of the bed back into hole and spade the rest of the bed and rake level! The bed should be about 5 inches lower. If you have any leaves or shredded paper or even do some of what applestar said. So now you have about 3 inches of leaves and paper on top of the spaded bed. Take the good top soil that was originally on the bottom of half the bed and spread it across the whole bed which should give you a 5 inch layer of low weed good top soil and maybe add a little fertilizer like 5-10-10 raked in or something mild! This should work and with that small bed only take about a hour.

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