Asked on Apr 16, 2015

How to prep soil for first time garden

I have been pulling weeds, grass with roots over 12" long, trying to have a flower garden in this particular spot - what do I do to prep the ground for plants and not so many weeds?
  12 answers
  • R.James Olson R.James Olson on Apr 16, 2015
    Nora, chances are you could use more nutrients and organic matter in the soil. Unless you've already started composting and have a roto-tiller. A raised bed/berm garden can avoid the need for such soil prep but will mean buying the soil pre-prepped. The only other option of which I can think would be to use containers.

  • Cindy Cindy on Apr 16, 2015
    Im a bit new at this gardening thing but what I did was get some soil and mix it in with manure mixed 2 bags soil to 1 bag manure. My garden is now growing tons of flowers, roses, ground cover ect. It doesn't take as much need to know to secede. Good luck and most of all enjoy your time being outdoors! BTW...As it is snowing here Iam not feeling it but keeping hoping it passes fast LOL

  • Mj Mj on Apr 17, 2015
    It sounds like weeds and grass is your main concern. I know firsthand that you can spend so much time fighting this and pulling them. If you have nothing else planted there you can take thick layers of newspaper or black plastic garbage bags and lay them over the are. The weeds and grass will be killed. This will take a little time so that may determine whether you want to use this method.

  • Brenda Brenda on Apr 17, 2015
    To expand on what MJ said, lay down a think layer of newspaper or cardboard, then put soil and compost mixture right on top. You can either do a raised bed border or just mound it. You can plant in the top layer right away, and usually the newspaper will break down by the time the roots of the new plants need the depth, especially if planting perennials ( the ones that keep coming back) but smother the weeds below it. Try googling something like no- dig methods or planting over tree roots and you might find some examples.

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    • Kathy Ruth Kathy Ruth on Apr 19, 2015
      @Brenda Searching for raised rows and permaculture will give info too. There's a book I plan on getting by Ruth Stout--Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent I've read some excerpts and it sounds like its right up my alley!

  • Margaret Buettner Margaret Buettner on Apr 17, 2015
    I agree with other comment lay down layers of newspaper to smother weeds & then turn over dirt add some compost & you can even use shredded newspaper between rows to keep weeds out don't forget ferterlizer

  • Judithcausey Judithcausey on Apr 17, 2015
    We've had 35 trees cut down on our very wooded lot over the last 15 years. So everything I've planted has involved roots. Some are as big around as your arm! So I plant with a pick-axe, a hatchet & my strongest clippers. (We have solid red clay for soil). It has taken hours & years of work but the effort was so worth it. If you love flowers as I do, it's like the longest journey. One foot at a time, one hole, one root, one plant, mulch & more mulch. Then it's the weeding over & over. BUT my flowers are just breath-taking in spring & summer (I'm working on fall)

    • Sherri Sherri on Apr 17, 2015
      @Judithcausey You inspire me! I've been fighting this same battle (with added invasive oxalis, blackberry, asparagus fern, etc) for five years! It's a long slow fight but as you say, so worth it!

  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Apr 17, 2015
    If there are no flowers there as of yet, and if you can till the soil with a tiller then rake it all out before you put your flowers in it would help (some) in the fight against weeds... also you can throw in leaves compost, straw (NOT HAY) even coffee grounds, (after raking) and till it all in good... this will help build the soil as well .. If you are like me here in Tn, WEEDS are just a fact of life... seems no matter how much you try they always manage to get back into the places you dont want them... but at least starting with a freshly cleared raked area will help... I heard a saying once that says..." how do you know the difference between a flower and a weed?? Pull EVERYTHING up and what comes back is a weed!!" I have found that to be the truest statement about gardening ever... Its an ongoing process to keep a flower garden or a vegetable garden, but always well worth the effort... dont be discouraged have fun with it! and remember ... the weeds dont mean any harm... they just happened to end up there!!

    • Kathy Ruth Kathy Ruth on Apr 19, 2015
      @Buster Evans Tilling the soil actually tends to have MORE weeds coming up. That's why I've started the layering method--the weeds do die because they've been smothered and the dormant seeds stay buried--and dormant.

  • Dee Dee on Apr 17, 2015
    When I want to start a new bed I put black plastic down in late fall and by this time of year I have a nice bare spot to work with. You could put it down now to kill off any growth for this year, it needs to be down at least 4-6 weeks, then just run a long handled cultivator thru it (easy on the back) and your ready to add your fertilizer and plant! Have fun.

  • Jane Jane on Apr 17, 2015
    Here is a great video on YouTube giving exact instructions for Lasagna Gardening. I did this years ago and have rich deep soil with no weeds or grass. You have to have a little patience, but it will pay off in the long run.

  • Jane Jane on Apr 17, 2015
    Forgot to mention that I top off my beds with all the leaves in the fall and grass clippings in the summer. They will compost and mulch all at one time...and its FREE!

  • Patricia Patricia on Apr 17, 2015
    @Jane The YouTube video you posted the link for isn't working. I keep getting an error "An error occurred. Please try again later" Does it work for you from the link?

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    • Patricia Patricia on Apr 18, 2015
      @Jane Thanks! I'll do that.

  • Kirsten Schull Kirsten Schull on Apr 18, 2015
    Grass B Gone :)