Freind
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Soil for New Flowerbed in New Orleans???

Hello folks,

I am very new to gardening as well to this forum and I need lots of help from you guys :D

I’m trying to remodel my flowerbed and I have removed almost all the old shrubs, as they are not growing since many years.

The first thing I like to know that what soil should I use for the flowerbed. I have read many article on the web, I visited the local stores and everyone has different opinion and I’m confuse now. Therefore, please help me out and advise that what soil should I put there, which is very good, with no weeds and least expensive.

I need one more suggestion on my white magnolia tree. It rarely blooms, and this year I didn’t see a single flower. So please also advice what should I do for it?

Thanks,

cynthia_h
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Good advice requires better input/information:

where do you live?
what exposure do the plants have?
what kind of shrubs were taken out? this might give clues as to the soil.
what kinds of flowers do you intend to grow--annuals? perennials?
do you have photos available?

Almost all soils (personally, I can't think of one, but there may be one out there) will improve with the addition of home-made compost. Home-made compost is superior to purchased compost because it's made from many sources, whereas commercial compost is generally one-source compost: spent mushroom medium, steer manure, etc.

So, while you research the flower-bed question, you might look around in our Compost Forum for ideas on starting your own compost. :)

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Freind
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Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:49 pm
Location: Kenner, La

Thanks,
I live in zone 9 near New Orleans.

My flowerbed face towards south and the sun revolves east to west but I have Magnolia tree in the center of my yard, just in front of my flowerbed. I have shade in the morning at the west side and after 1 o’clock it moves to east side.

I don’t know the names of the shrubs but they have tiny green leaves and other has mid size leaves and it grow tall and the leaves are reddish when they are new. But I also have two Azaleas and they grow and blooms pretty good.

I’m covering the background with different colors of azaleas and as far as the flowers, I haven’t decided yet and I need help from you guys on selecting the flowers and I prefer flowers most of the years with less care. And for sure I’m planting some Hyacinth bubs.

I have the pictures but I don’t know who to attached with this MSG.

If you need any other information please let me know and please advise me on the soil and selecting the plants.

Thanks.

cynthia_h
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Great info! :D

Your pictures will probably be more cooperative once you've read the webmaster's guidelines for posting photos & pics on forums at

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3724

Back to the soil...When Katrina stormed ashore on August 28/29, 2005, she dumped half of the Gulf of Mexico on the Gulf Coast, from Texas to the Florida Panhandle. All that seawater contained salt. None of that salt was helpful for fruit, veggie, herb, or flower growing.

Now, five and a half years later, some of the salt may have been "rained away," but the damage to the soil is still around, esp. if you haven't been able to tend it or haven't even lived at this address for very long.

The best long-term remediation is compost. Make your own; it's by far the least expensive--almost all the ingredients are free. Again, I can't think of any that will cost money, but there may be some out there. The leaves of many trees will break down into good compost, but some trees don't want to help other plants get started, so their leaves do NOT break down. Yet other trees' leaves contain plant-killing compounds (e.g., walnut tree leaves contain juglone, toxic to other plants) to reduce competition. Your county/parish agricultural extension will have information on non-compostable leaves--or they should. There are also members of The Helpful Gardener from NOLA who may step in to help! :D

Other than leaves, compost can be started with kitchen scraps, mowed grass (non-chemically treated), shredded newspaper, cotton fabric scraps, just a wild variety of ingredients. Please see the Sticky at the top of the Compost Forum called Greens & Browns; it's a multi-page discussion of what can go into a compost pile.

The idea behind successful compost is a mix of greens (nitrogen-rich) and browns (carbon-rich), air, water, and time. It doesn't take a lot of compost to make a big difference; Jon Jeavons (How to Grow More Vegetables...) recommends 1/4 inch on the surface of the soil and then forking/mixing it into the soil. He feels that this will introduce beneficial microbes into the subsurface to help feed the roots of the plants and defend them against disease and microbial attackers.

In NOLA, it probably won't take but a few months to get useable compost, so read up on how to get it started and set to ASAP.

While you wait, see whether any landscape companies offer compost made from multiple sources at a better price than the big-box guys do. Or find an independent garden/nursery supplier and ask their advice on the soil situation. You may not need soil per se but rather compost and other amendments to help the soil breathe.

But I'll wait to hear from the experienced Louisiana gardeners I know are around here somewhere....I've added something to the title of this thread to draw their eyes to your situation. Hope it helps.

Cynthia

Freind
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Location: Kenner, La

Thanks again.
I will upload pic when I go home.
Reg the compost, can I only use news paper or any kind of paper like used glossy add papers and the printer/copier paper (they all have printer ink or pencil writings or colored by crayons).

As far as leaves are concern I may not be Abel to get some soon, but if I do do I have to crush and dry it or I can use as it is.

We also have a gunie pig and we use pine shaving as bedding for her. So can we use this bedding with her litter? Pls note she eat veggi, fruits and hay and poops a lot.
If I can use the pine bedding, then the paper, which I stated above, and the pine bedding is good enough or I still need the leaves.

One more question, when we use these home made compost, do they start fertilizing the plants immidiatly or it take some time and when should we put the new compost again?

Let's say if I'm short with this home made compost or don't have at all then what should I buy.

Thanks again and awaiting for yr kind help. :)

cynthia_h
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cynthia_h wrote:
Other than leaves, compost can be started with kitchen scraps, mowed grass (non-chemically treated), shredded newspaper, cotton fabric scraps, just a wild variety of ingredients. Please see the Sticky at the top of the Compost Forum called Greens & Browns; it's a multi-page discussion of what can go into a compost pile.

The idea behind successful compost is a mix of greens (nitrogen-rich) and browns (carbon-rich), air, water, and time. It doesn't take a lot of compost to make a big difference....
The "multi-page discussion" is at https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9089 It gives a much longer list of what can and what should *not* go into a compost pile than any two people could dream up. Please look at it. :)

Happy gardening!

Cynthia

Freind
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Location: Kenner, La

pls see the pic on the link below:
[img] https://samsclubus.pnimedia.com/album/prints_thumbs.aspx?q=1qFhUwJkstv2cPYQFeDxpY83wxXfPO4Zw7NcsaKpdZeE-

[/img]

Freind
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Location: Kenner, La

Thank again.
I read some of your refer discussion and I'm confuse, may be I'm a lazy reader . Anyway can anyone pls advise me the ingredients which I describe above are good or I have to add or remove something?
And when you say untreated grass, what is that mean? Fertilizer or top spray.every year I spread weed n feed on my at augusteen, is it good to use?
Regards,

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rainbowgardener
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Your guinea pig bedding should be fine in the compost pile.

If you put weed and feed on your lawn, I would NOT put your grass clippings in the compost pile. I also would not let children or pets play on the lawn.

Please do read this about weed and feed:

https://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehcsg/weed_feed.html
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Freind
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Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:49 pm
Location: Kenner, La

Thanks, that a valuble info.
But what should I use for my lawn other then Weed and feed. Everyyear it have many weeds.
For my flower bed: Is the other things are good which I mentioned or I have to add something else.
Thanks again.

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rainbowgardener
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The article I linked to has some suggestions in the section titled "What to Do Instead" about organic lawn care. And if you check in the Lawn Care Forum (section) here, there is a sticky at the top about organic lawn care. Basically if you keep your grass really healthy, it will do a much better job at out competing the weeds. And personally I don't mind a few weeds in my lawn-- once it is mowed it all looks short and green, so what's the big deal.

Re "the other things" you mentioned. I looked back through and the only other thing I noticed was paper. Shredded, non-glossy paper is fine for your compost pile as a brown. Again you need to check the Green/Brown thread. Your compost pile needs a mixture of green (moist/soft) and brown (dry/harder) ingredients. The paper would also work as a mulch on top of your soil, to help suppress weeds and maintain moisture. It would not work AS your soil. If you don't have homemade compost, you are going to need some good topsoil with purchased compost added.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Freind
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Location: Kenner, La

Thanks,
Pls advise that does the weed control fabric really works or the the mulch is good enough.

cynthia_h
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The weed control fabric works...for *one* season. Then you're fighting the stuff tooth and nail.

My FIL passed away in April 2007. To help my MIL cope with the landscaping, my husband's brother hired landscapers that summer to put in new plants around the house. BIL doesn't know a weed from a wisteria, so the landscapers just did as they pleased and presented BIL with a $$$ bill. :shock:

When I visited in September 2007, I found the weed-block fabric. :x I learned of its presence while trying to apply a "color corrector" to MIL's hydrangea. She wants it to be blue, as does BIL. But the weed-control fabric doesn't allow the water to be applied around the drip line of the plant, just very narrowly at the main emergence of the plant from the ground. :evil:

Then, in January, when the rains brought forth the annual weeds, the weed-control fabric started to show its nasty side. I started pulling up what would normally have been easy weeds: baby dandelions, small sow thistles, whatnot. THEY WOULD NOT YIELD. They could not yield to my pulling. The pores of the landscape ("weed control") fabric trapped them so that the weeds broke off at the beginning of the root.

Well, that was a fine mess: I ended up with the green part of the weed, but the root stayed in the ground. :x If I pulled harder, the landscape fabric came up from the ground, but I *still* didn't get the root to come out of the soil (to me, it was dirt at this point, and maybe a few other things, too :wink:).

Now, 3.5 years later, the stuff is still there, but very loose where I've been pulling at the weeds. I'm almost ready to take some broken-down scissors and just cut the stuff away from the plants so that I can apply compost water and worm "tea." The plants need so much help, it isn't even funny, and the landscape fabric just sits there, in the way and being a complete pain in the posterior. :evil:

So that's one gardener's experience with the evil, nasty landscape fabric, aka "weed-control fabric." Save your money and your frustration: leave it at the store. Go to an independent nursery/garden-supply shop--not the big box type--and talk to the experienced and knowledgeable staff. They'll give you good advice for your local area re. weeds, lawn, etc.

And DO read the Stickies at the top of the Lawn/Landscape Forum. There is a TON of information already posted, by people who have worked on lawns for years but who may no longer be active here. Their knowledge, however, has been saved in the Stickies. Go to the index page of the Forum (the one that you see when you sign in). Then select Lawn/Landscaping. The messages at the top of the list that say "Sticky: ........" are the ones you want.

Cynthia

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Kisal
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Here's another gardener that hates weed block fabric. :evil:

There was a large old tree in the back yard when I purchased this house. The roots near the trunk of the tree made mowing the lawn around it very difficult. I built an octagonal planter/bench around the tree, which I filled with soil and planted with flowers. It was very attractive. But first, I put down weed block fabric, so the grass wouldn't invade the planter. It didn't work, but the flowers kept the worst of the grass at bay.

And then came the day when the old tree died, and I had it removed. The weeds came up like crazy, but getting them out was nigh on to impossible, because the roots were bound up in the weed block fabric. Finally, I took a mattock and dug up the entire area, just to get the blasted weed block fabric out! I will NEVER use that stuff again! :evil:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

Freind
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Location: Kenner, La

"pain in the posterior" You are funny. I can understand your detail reply by just reading this one sentence :lol:

Anyway the employee of my local plant seller at Lowes gave the fabric idea to me.

Pls advise what kind of mulch is good. Pls advise at least two different priorities, as it may not available. And does mulch help to control the weed also. Pls advise at your earliest as I’m going to buy tomorrow. And I don't have the homemade compost so I’m also going to buy the garden soil. Pls also advise that is that the good idea to mix some cow manure with it.

And have you guys get the chance to see pic of my loan, do you have any suggestion for plants? My priority is flowers and some colored leaves. But any way let me know what good for my garden.

Thanks.

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rainbowgardener
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What the stores mostly sell for mulch is shredded bark and that is fine. Pretty much anything else organic you can get works too... grass clippings, fall leaves, shredded corn cobs, shredded paper, etc. You just want something that is going to cover the ground to hold moisture in and keep weeds down, and eventually break down to feed the soil. So yes a good layer of mulch does help suppress the weeds, though probably not 100%. And to keep suppressing weeds, it may need to be renewed mid-season.

Re the flower bed, my first suggestion would be to make it wider, to be in better scale with the house. Make the outer edge a bit curved and don't line every thing up like soldiers.

A mixture of a few shrubs and some perennials is nice. Shrubs might be viburnum, azalea, mahonia, serviceberry, coralberry, creeping juniper, or look around and what your neighbors are successfully growing and see what you like. Rosemary and lavender will grow into small shrubs for you and be lovely and fragrant. Perennials are too many to name and again you should look around at a good local nursery (not big box store) as well as talking to your neighbors about their gardens. But heres a few suggestions of southern plants that stay green most of the time (through milder winters) and have a long blooming season:

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Wedelia texana (hairy wedelia)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (frogfruit)


Plant a few perennials with room around them for them to spread and then fill in with annuals. Impatiens will get lush and beautiful in your climate and pump out flowers through a long season.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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