Girl gardeningAs spring's bright, warm days begin, you will want to enjoy the pleasure of having flower beds blooming in your landscape. As soon as the freezing weather nears its end, it is time to begin your preparation, planning, and once the last freeze has passed, it's time to begin establishing your flower beds. These tips will help you make the most of your beds of flowering plants.


Winter Cleanup


Even well before the last frost, you can start preparations for spring flower beds. Rake away dead leaves and winter debris to allow light and air to reach the soil. At the time of the last freeze, remove the old, worn out mulch from your existing flower beds. If you see that the cycles of freezing and thawing of winter have pushing some of your perennials partially out of the soil, replant them immediately to prevent exposing any roots to air. Remove any dead material remaining from last season's growth from perennials and cut back or groom ornamental grasses. If you have roses in your flower beds, remove their winter protection after the final freeze and prune the rose bushes prior to their starting to develop new leaves. Do wait for the soil to become dried out from the soaking experienced from the cycles of melting ice and snow. Once you can pick up clumps of soil and see them fall easily apart rather that stick together, you'll know it is time to begin to dig new flower beds and add compost to your existing beds for flowering plants.


Spring Weed Control


Weeds begin showing their evil little heads quite early in the springtime. Get a jump on weed control by removing them as they appear, digging up their root systems to ensure they do not spring back up again. Since you will also be encouraging a growth of lush grass for your lawn, create an edge for your flower beds to prevent grass encroaching into your plantings. Use a spade to create an trench along the edges of your flower beds, or for the lowest possible maintenance, install permanent edging such as attractive scalloped garden edging blocks along the flower bed borders.


Get the Soil Ready For Growing:


It takes a little work and perhaps a little investment to correctly prepare your flower bed soil but you will get a big payoff in terms of a beautiful, lush garden later. Work the soil to remove any rocks or hidden debris to about one foot in depth, working around any plants existing which you wish to remain in the beds. Compost, leaf mold, and peat moss should be added and worked into the soil as well. If you create your own compost, you can save money rather than buying composted matter. Generally speaking, you want to add about 5 pounds of these rich materials per 100 square feet of flower bed. Estimating, however, is a fine method of determining the amount to add. Distribute the enriching matter about 4 inches deep over your loosened soil and work it into the soil. If you soil has really poor drainage, incorporate some sand or grit in the mixture to create better drainage. If you are creating new flower beds and have a power garden tiller, you can make short work of soil preparation. If you do not have a tiller or if you are working around existing plants, you will need to work the addendums into the soil by hand.


Define Perimeters of New Flower Beds


If you are creating a brand new flower bed, choose an interesting shape such as an oval or kidney shape if it is in an area where this is practical. Flower beds, unless along the edge of the house or driveway are boring when they are simple squares or rectangles. To lay out an interesting flower bed shape, determine the general shape you desire and then lay your garden hose on the ground in this shape. Use an edging tool or sharp spade to cut into the soil along the outline, being careful not to damage the hose. Remove glass and sod with a garden fork and add to your compost pile. Create a clean edge and consider installing permanent edging.


Plan Your Flower Plantings:


Create a drawing of your flower beds and use the sketch for planning flowering plant placement. Consider spacing and mature plant sizes. For flower beds which are seen only from the front, plant the plants which will be tallest at maturity in the back, then medium height plants in the middle area and the shortest plants in front. If the flower bed is viewed from all sides, the tallest plants must go in the center, surrounded by mid-sized plants with the smallest plants along the perimeter.


Distribute early bloomers along with late bloomers throughout the flower bed so that you won't have one group in bloom while the rest of the flower bed has no colorful blooms at any given time. Choose a range of colors, shapes, and foliage to enjoy throughout the growing season.


Plant Your Flower Beds:


Using your design sketch as a guide, position plants where you want, making sure you allow room for root growth. If using plants in flats, dig a hole big enough to spread the roots of each plant and add a teaspoon of bone meal to each hold. Position the plant to the proper depth and back-fill the hole, pressing soil firmly to prevent air pockets. Then water thoroughly and set the water soak in.


Mulch Your Flower Beds:


While mulch is not mandatory, it is very helpful in weed control and adds a finish look to your soil. It also helps retain moisture and highlight the colorful flowers. Choose the mulch which you like best and spread a thick layer over the exposed soil in your flower beds.

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