Bed preparation is the most is the most important part of survival for your shrubs, flowers, herbs, or vegetables. By properly preparing the soil in your beds just one time can save both money & time over the next several years. By having the right hand tools, the right soil amendments, and a little elbow grease the first time through you will be able to enjoy your flower beds for years to come with minimal effort. Once this is done to the lawn and landscape, you basically just maintain everything for the time you own the home. Such as properly water, plant annual flowers, proper mowing, mulching, & fertilizing. From that period on your cost will drop dramatically from that year forward.
In the plant world, it is survival of the fittest. When you first notice a plant that looks a little weak or not right one day, you’ll see in the days to come a number of insects come in to take the plant down. Generally this is attributed to the soil condition and not the plant. That would have been noticed at the time of purchase or shortly after. If you have healthy soil you will have healthy plants with out fail. That will alleviate the cost of replacing the plants, buying pest controls, the time it takes to get new plants and plant them. The #1 amendment to add to the existing soil is compost.
If it is a new bed, you would want to remove the top 2″ of grass & soil. Established beds you can get ready to start adding the amendments. Use existing soil or the native soil that is already there. We want the plant to be used to the soil that is native to that area as it grows. If you dig out all of the soil that is currently there to be replaced, you have created extra work and a whole set of problems. I would suggest buying a set of work gloves especially if your soil is clay or hard panned. The next thing I would purchase is a good piece of hardware to break the clay up and used to mix in the amendments. I have used the Ames Kodiak, long handle type trowel. It has a life time warranty and the four tines are made of steel. This or something comparable would be best used. This may cost more at first but would keep for many years to come. It will also break up the clay better and easier than a lesser tool. The key word is easier. I have used and abused mine for over ten years busting up clay/rock and has never been sharpened. The others will break!
The next thing to do is measure the length and width of the area which the amendments will be incorporated. This is not rocket science and does not have to an exact measurement. Just to get the general idea of the square footage. Break up the soil/clay about four inches down. Then incorporate 3″ of compost to the existing soil, mixing it in with the tool you purchased to break up the soil. Whether the soil is red or black add 4 to 8 pounds of Lava Sand per 100 square feet. Lava Sand not only makes soil amendments available to the plants roots but adds porosity and aeration to the soil. Which aids in helping maintaining the right amount of moisture in the soil. Most red soils need Lime for Calcium. Add Dolomite Lime at the rate of 4 pounds per 100 square feet. Most black soils need Green Sand, which is a great source of potash. Combined with the compost will completely change the structure of your soil. All of these rock powders help break up the soil and are a natural slow releasing fertilizer that can stay in the beds from seven to fifteen plus years. In fact you may never need to add any more.
These rock powders are fairly inexpensive. The best way to buy compost is bulk by the cubic yard. At this point and budget allows you may want to add compost to your lawn. For a lawn add no more than 1/2″ deep of compost. This is the over all cost effective way to change the structure of your soil and have a beautiful green lawn & beds. The results are astounding. If you wanted to add compost the following year, you need no more than 1/4″ deep. I have found you can order the compost to be delivered, purchase a wheel barrow, buy a wide mouth shovel for loading the compost in the wheel barrow, buy two rakes to spread the compost, and pay 2 persons $10 an hour to disburse the materials for the cost of just purchasing the compost by the bag at a local nursery. Every time it rains after wards you will have your yard fertilized from the compost! As an example a 2cubic foot bag will cover 12 square feet 1″ deep. One cubic yard equals a 3 cubic foot bag.
Another item that is in liquid form to help speed up the process is one of many inoculates with live microbes, that almost alone will help break up hard panning and aerate the soil. By incorporating this formula into your flower beds you will be able to plant flowers and shrubs in the years to come with minimal effort. The soil will be loose and fertile and need very little fertilizers to keep your flowers blooming all season long. Here are directions for both a nice lawn fertilizer and foliar feeder. A small amount of the items mentioned should last a normal homeowner all season, spraying about once every three weeks. More if you want. You can use in an open end sprayer. The directions will cover 1000 square feet. Just add the amounts needed to cover your lawn.
For the Lawn l Foliar Feeder
My following article will show you how to incorporate the fertilizers above into pest controls, fire ant control, and help treat any sick plants if needed. It will also contain proper watering and mowing techniques to keep your work down to a minimal, and your cost low. If you go to the site below, add the areas total square feet and the depth needed. Then click on calculate. This will give you the total cubic yards needed to complete the job. http://www.livingearth.net/calculator.php
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