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Old 04-05-2015, 06:54 AM
 
1,066 posts, read 718,226 times
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New home owner, so it is new to me?

Why people use mulch? What is the purpose of using mulch to cover the flower bed?

I used scott topsoil, but the color looks bad.

What should I need to do to care a flower bed? Any brief maintenance guide?

Thanks.
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
51,659 posts, read 40,621,588 times
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Mulch keeps in some moisture, and also restricts weed growth. That's why people use it. Also, it looks nice when it's freshened up each year.

I hope you tilled up the soil beneath the Scott topsoil to mix them in together. I also mix in some soil conditioner and (call me old school) manure, which you can buy at most lawn places. I till the ground first, because it's too hard otherwise.

I then plant the plants according to the instructions for each plant. Look closely at how much sun the bed gets and at what time of day. If it gets full sun for much of the day, only plant things that take full sun. If it is shaded all afternoon, plant things that are shade loving (most shade loving plants can take morning sun). If it's filtered by trees or lattice work or whatever, take that into consideration as well.

I plant perennials and evergreen stuff toward the back of each bed and at focus points, and just fill in with annuals for color each year.

I usually get up in the mornings, make sure everything is getting enough water, and I pull a few weeds each day. Dead head any flowers that need it (most don't). I fertilize (usually just with that fertilizer that you sprinkle out yourself) a couple of times a year.

I am sure some others will have more indepth advice but that's about all I do and it works well for me.
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:11 AM
 
1,066 posts, read 718,226 times
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Thanks for the information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
Mulch keeps in some moisture, and also restricts weed growth. That's why people use it. Also, it looks nice when it's freshened up each year.

I hope you tilled up the soil beneath the Scott topsoil to mix them in together. I also mix in some soil conditioner and (call me old school) manure, which you can buy at most lawn places. I till the ground first, because it's too hard otherwise.

I then plant the plants according to the instructions for each plant. Look closely at how much sun the bed gets and at what time of day. If it gets full sun for much of the day, only plant things that take full sun. If it is shaded all afternoon, plant things that are shade loving (most shade loving plants can take morning sun). If it's filtered by trees or lattice work or whatever, take that into consideration as well.

I plant perennials and evergreen stuff toward the back of each bed and at focus points, and just fill in with annuals for color each year.

I usually get up in the mornings, make sure everything is getting enough water, and I pull a few weeds each day. Dead head any flowers that need it (most don't). I fertilize (usually just with that fertilizer that you sprinkle out yourself) a couple of times a year.

I am sure some others will have more indepth advice but that's about all I do and it works well for me.
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:24 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
35,038 posts, read 44,657,315 times
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When you get rolling start a compost pile. If you have leaves, high grass you've cut, coffee grounds, eggshells, fruits and vegetables from the kitchen which have gone over you can start that now. It's easier if you chop up the leaves first.

Composting: a guide to making compost at home, using compost tumblers, bins & other composters | Eartheasy.com

You don't need one of those fancy tumblers, I just have an out of the way corner for mine. A two pile one is better.

The compost is what you'll add to your soil next year. I use very little fertilizer anywhere because of using compost.

I do process it by screening it and returning the not done chunks to the pile.

A note about deadheading: it does clean up your flower bed by not having dead flowers hanging around, But, more importantly, many plants/flowers die once they've set seed. Taking the dead flowers off (deadheading) before that happens short circuits the process and the plant continues to produce flowers.

Marigolds are one such plant. Daisies and day lilies do not, they're one shot perennials which bloom once (daylilies usually have multiple blooms form which spread blossoming out over several days or week and then die back and overwinter.

It's very important to allow the foliage on those plants to turn brown and not cut it. That's how the plant stores energy for next year's flowers.

Some literature:

http://www.flower-gardening-made-eas...gardening.html

http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-G.../dp/1853919896

An old one but still one of the best:

http://www.amazon.com/Crocketts-Flow.../dp/0316161322

Last edited by North Beach Person; 04-05-2015 at 07:39 AM..
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Former LI'er Now Rehoboth Beach, DE
8,687 posts, read 11,571,556 times
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I agree with the above but will add that with all the new "stuff" in your life, keep the garden simple for now. Gardening is a labor of love, while the fruits are wonderful to enjoy, the work, especially for a new garden can be monumental when juggling other things. I would take a soil sample to your local garden center or Board of Cooperative extension unless you already now the kind of soil you have. My former home had really pretty gardens, but I am a stranger to clay soil and I am learning slowly what will and won't grow. Even a few that have been recommended have failed. The best advice I can offer is to start slow and above all amend the soil once you know what you are dealing with.
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Old 04-06-2015, 08:21 AM
 
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Mulch is not the same as compost. Mulch is not used to make flower beds more attractive, although it does do that. Mulch doesn't last more than a couple season because it isn't supposed to.

Mulch is critically functional to a garden. In time, it decomposes and adds organic material to your soil, but when it is in a 3" layer, it moderates soil temperature, which is so important all year round. Mulch helps soil retain moisture and it helps to suppress weeds. You'll still get some weeds, but not nearly as many as you would without mulch.

Mulch is an essential blanket to wrap your plants in, and I am so into it that my license plate reads: "MULCH". We used 45 cubic yards of it last year -- but we have an enormous area to do.

In ornamental beds and around trees, mulch is wood chips. Never use rock or stones. They sink eventually, and they also compact your soil. They're awful. In veggie beds, mulch should be leaves, dried grass or straw.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:28 AM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,473 posts, read 14,415,526 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlebeH View Post
New home owner, so it is new to me?

Why people use mulch? What is the purpose of using mulch to cover the flower bed?

I used scott topsoil, but the color looks bad.

What should I need to do to care a flower bed? Any brief maintenance guide?

Thanks.
Mulch seems to be an American thing. I've seen gardens overseas and they don't use mulch. Having said that I LOVE the smell and look of a well-mulched bed. I think that because many of our native plants and trees do well with some sort of leaf litter, that it works so well in American gardens. As other people mentioned, mulch prevents water loss, adds nutrients and can prevent weed seeds from Germinating.

If you are getting started with gardening, I'd recommend getting a subscription to Fine Gardening magazine. The recently published the results of a mulch trial that they did and all mulches benefited plants to certain degrees. In the trial almost all mulches--except one-- promoted plant growth. It doesn't seem to be online, so I'll find the magazine and then post the source.

For the flower bed...I'd say you should do the following:
1. Learn to identify weeds. This will take time and reading. You can also post pics on CD or send them to your local extension.
2. Pull weeds regularly.
3. Fertilize if needed. This can take the form of compost or mulch.
4. Learn to identify the flowers in the bed. Some may need "pinching," "dividing," or "staking" on occasion.

Enjoy the new garden.
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:48 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 7,951,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinkytoes View Post
Mulch seems to be an American thing. I've seen gardens overseas and they don't use mulch. Having said that I LOVE the smell and look of a well-mulched bed. I think that because many of our native plants and trees do well with some sort of leaf litter, that it works so well in American gardens. As other people mentioned, mulch prevents water loss, adds nutrients and can prevent weed seeds from Germinating.

If you are getting started with gardening, I'd recommend getting a subscription to Fine Gardening magazine. The recently published the results of a mulch trial that they did and all mulches benefited plants to certain degrees. In the trial almost all mulches--except one-- promoted plant growth. It doesn't seem to be online, so I'll find the magazine and then post the source.

For the flower bed...I'd say you should do the following:
1. Learn to identify weeds. This will take time and reading. You can also post pics on CD or send them to your local extension.
2. Pull weeds regularly.
3. Fertilize if needed. This can take the form of compost or mulch.
4. Learn to identify the flowers in the bed. Some may need "pinching," "dividing," or "staking" on occasion.

Enjoy the new garden.

I disagree. Fertilize with fertilizer.

Compost and mulch aren't the same. Compost and mulch are not fertilizer. They contain only a fraction of the nutrients required by plants.

Compost improves soil, making it a friendlier environment for plant growth. It breaks up clay clumps through the activity of the teeming numbers of organisms found in compost (from microscopic to earthworm-sized).

Mulch decomposes over time, too, but since it's all carbon, it doesn't improve soil to the degree that compost does. As I said earlier, mulch keeps soil cooler in summer and moderates soil temperatures in winter, preventing heaving from freezing and thawing cycles. Mulch suppresses weeds and it is extremely important in retaining soil moisture. With the awful droughts we've had in many places these past years, mulching your garden can save a lot of water.

Mulch contains virtually no macronutrients required for plant growth.

Compost contains a small amount of nutrients. Low single digits for nitrogen, the most important of all the macronutrients.

FERTILIZE WITH FERTILIZER.

Now, if you come back and say organic farmers fertilize with compost, you'd be wrong. They fertilize with green (uncomposted) manure, which is a very nitrogen-rich material. And as the manure breaks down (is composted), it loses its nitrogen content.

So:

1. Mulch with mulch.

2. Compost to improve your soil. A small amount goes a long way.

3. Fertilize with fertilizer. Plants do not know the difference between nitrogen coming from granules or from green manure. This was the first thing we were taught in Basic Horticulture class.
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