I am just starting out with gardening. Our 7 acres at our new house were completely overrun with those wild vine bushes,pricker bushes,and those tree of heavens(?) . We spent the money and hired a man with a machine to mulch all the vines and dead trees and weed trees. Now I have these open spaces with giant course mulch of the previous stuff that was there. How do I start with a garden bed? Can I layer cardboard and compost and cut holes and plant, or do I need to rake it up and turn the soil to break up the roots or can I just start planting, and mulch on top to keep it a bay? I just went to loomis creek to get inspired and can’t wait to start buying plants!
I would start small; pick a prime spot (good light, the least stumps to be contended with still in the ground, near a source of water and convenient otherwise to you to care for it/enjoy it).
Then depending on what you want to plant (woody things like shrubs and trees or herbaceous things like perennials?) I’d either put the corrugated cardboard down first (with perennials…then make slits to insert the plants) or after planting (if you are putting in a relative few trees and shrubs this may be easier; either way is OK that works for you).
And yes, compost would be a great addition — you can layer it on top of the soil before the cardboard, or if you want to dig holes for your plants work it into the holes…again, I don’t know what you want to plant and how bad the underlying soil is.
Since it has been very dry generally speaking I’d probably water the area first, and I’d definitely moisten the cardboard once it’s in place and then mulch on top and water again. You don’t want cardboard to prevent the plants from getting watered, so leave good openings around them.
One more thing: If there are roots of brambles and other nasty things left still in the ground, I’d unearth them with a pry bar or pick or whatever and not pretend they’ll just disappear because of the cardboard.
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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.