The Perennial bed is in the front - too long to get all in the photo
Last week we had 50 or so perennial plants that needed a new home. We’ve been having hot and humid weather so I avoided the task as long as I could, but finally I set myself to do it.
Scott knew where he wanted things but when I went to dig in the ground I couldn’t. It was hard as rock – so…. I decided to improvise. Fortunately for me we had all the makings for a “lasagna” garden. It took a lot of trips in the wheelbarrow but that probably was easier than the digging I’d have had to do if I did it the normal way.
First I put down a layer of cardboard that we get from the grocery store. These are the boxes that frozen food comes in. Boy is that an education seeing what people eat and how much packaging is involved. Made me swear off of frozen food.
I didn’t have enough cardboard so I finished with thick layers of newspaper. You aren’t supposed to use color pages or glossy pages, but if your paper is like ours EVERY page has color on it now, even the classifieds. So I did skip the glossy pages and heavily colored ones, but used the rest.
The point of this first layer is to block out all sun to the grass beneath to kill it. Some folks say to poke holes in it for the plant roots to go through but that also means you have holes for grass and weeds to come up so I don’t. It will break down completely over about 2 seasons here.
Next I put down a big layer of straw, probably more than a foot, in the center of the cardboard. This straw we bought to mulch the strawberries but we had too much. It was already starting to break down.
Then I put a thick layer of compost over the straw – about 6-8 inches. I made sure all the straw was covered. This was the planting area for the plants.
Next came the wood chips to put on the border where you could still see the cardboard. This is playground mulch we got to work on the yard earlier and it was left over. I put that on thick to to make sure the cardboard was held down.
Then I planted the plants. Tansy, yarrow, lavender, coreopsis, shasta daisy, lambs ears, purple bee balm and others I can’t remember. These were either given to us by a neighbor we found on Freecycle who needed to clean out her garden or they were bought for .99 at our town florist who is cleaning out the plants nobody bought. The plants from the florist were badly root bound so I had to break apart the root ball and in some cases cut it because it was too densely matted for me to pull apart with my hands. I also cut off any blooms so the plants could put their focus on growing new roots. Made them look pretty ugly.
Once the plants were in I watered them well and then covered them with more wood chips to help retain the moisture.
I thought the bed looked really nice for only two hours of work. It is over 10 feet long and I still have a lot of space to put things in. The plants won’t be much to look at this year, but next year they should do better and spread. We get nice sun in this part of the yard which will help them.
Hope that helps any of you wanting a new garden bed but not really wanting to do the heavy digging. This method has worked for us over and over and it makes a real nice looking flower garden that grows well.