The home I bought several years ago has a few beds around the house and edge of the property. I want to enlarge them but keep most of what is already planted. Would it be best to dig out all existing plants and just start over? I am wondering if there is a method for re-working existing beds w/o having to dig everything up, find a temporary home for it, and then placing it back once the beds are dug, the soil enhanced, etc. Yes, I am older, have less energy, and a troublesome back. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to make this job any easier, that would be great!
If you don’t need to, I wouldn’t touch any of the existing plants if they are in good condition. I would just dig in front of the existing beds to extend them out and either plant more of the same plants already there or add some new great companion plants in front. That way it’s easier for you, you don’t waste good plants, and you get to refresh your existing beds with new plants. Hope this helps!
A good mulch will add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. The worms and soil micro-organisms will mix it in for you as it decomposes; no need to move the plants and re-dig.
If the beds have a lot of weeds, put several layers of wet newspaper (easier than cardboard for fitting around closely planted perennials) under the mulch. This will break down after the weeds have been smothered. If the weeds are very bad, you may find that you must dig up a few of the perennials to untangle them, but this is still less work than re-digging the entire bed.
this is very useful information, thank you all for replying. now the job doesn’t seem to overwhelming. I really do appreciate the tips!
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.