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Old 05-19-2015, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
7,735 posts, read 13,649,319 times
Reputation: 24706

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Hi, all!! OK, so I've been saying for the past 3 years that "I will be planting flower beds soon ..." -- but I would always feel just SO overwhelmed so I kept putting it off. Well, I finally went out and bought some perennials (I've just been doing annuals in containers since I bought this house in May 2012) and I am DETERMINED to get them in the ground in the next couple of weeks. (Right now they are still in pots, but they are already growing and looking great.)

Right now the front yard is just grass. (There are shrubs right next to the house but they always get crushed by snow falling in the winter -- especially this past winter, when we got an insane amount of snow -- so they look like crap and I am sick of them and I am just going to pull them all out. Yes. All. Out. I'll be adding a big front porch to the house at some point, but in the meantime, I will do containers there. There's another house in my neighborhood that does that and they look wonderful.)

Anyway ... so I THINK this is what I will do?

Till the soil ... or do I dig to get the grass off first? Can I use the tiller right on the grass?

Add compost etc. (can have that delivered in bulk from a store that's just a couple of miles away).

Plant the flowers etc. ... plan where to put them based on their expected size at maturity.

Edge them all (just bought a bunch of pavers ... some are red, which I assume will fade over time which is fine, and others are gray, which I really like) ... do I need to use paver base and leveling sand when it's just an edge for the flower beds? (I know you need those when making a patio out of pavers ...)

Yeah, total newbie here. I am nervous just thinking about this, but I really really really want to have a nice garden.

So many of you have been gardening for years and years and years (NK I'm thinking about you in particular) ... please, any tips? advice? etc.? I'm in New Hampshire, zone 5a.

(Oh, later today I will try to post some photos of what I have bought so far, especially the perennials! I have a bunch more on my shopping list but will have to buy them in the next couple of weeks to make sure I get them in the ground on time ... I might be being too ambitious for this year!)
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:29 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
7,735 posts, read 13,649,319 times
Reputation: 24706
No one has any suggestions, advice, tips, etc.? I am bummed!
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,504 posts, read 46,063,271 times
Reputation: 47523
Here I come!!!

Right now you are like a kid in a candy store. Everything looks so yummy and fine. You remind me of what my Daddy used to say to me when we went to the local cafeteria after church. "Your eyes are bigger than your mouth"

Start slow Karen. Here in NC we have heat index of 92 two days in a row so it is hard for me to think about it's too early to plant anything where you are.

Do you really want to cut everything down to nothing? Since it is so early in your spring why don't you just cut your foundation shrubs down? What are they anyway. This early they will probably come back.
if you are hell bent on flowers then expand your beds infront of your foundation plantsing.

Yes you have to get rid of the grass first. if you don't you will be fighting grass-WEEDS- in your beds till the second coming. Shhhh..don't tell anybody but this is where the dreaded Roundup comes in handy. Still day-no breeze, don't get any on your shrubs. sunlight...no rain expected.

Lay out your hose for the shape you want. Remember ease of mowing the gras next to your beds. I've eliminated all right angles for my own gardens as well as clients for 30 years. I just woke up one morning and decided I never wanted to see another right angle in my life.

roundup is systemic and won't affect the soil. after grass is dead you till or get somebody to till for you.l DEEP--10-12 inches. Harder than you think. then you wait for the dormant seeds you've just brought to the surface to germinate...spray them to kill and ideally another till, another wait for germination and then you plant. But most are too impatient to this second step.

Remember your soil is where it's at as far as growing. What good does it do to spend buckets of money on plant material if you aren't going to prepare the soil correctly. Do a soil test thru your local Agent to determine what additives ou need. Drainage is crucial so if you are working with clay you will need bundles of compost and maybe sand.

Then after breakfast....- a little joke I usually pull on my husband when I give him his to do list.

if you decide you don't want to till then you are asking for trouble. this soil will be full of roots from the foundation plants, lots of yucking stuff from building materials, etc. Digging a hole for each individual flowers is way too much work and won't give you good results.

good luck
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:55 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,473 posts, read 14,492,067 times
Reputation: 6454
Aww Karen. DOn't be bummed! Kinkytoes is here with ton of suggestions! BTW congrats on finally getting started!

1. Edging - Personally I like a cut edge. You cut with the half moon edger or an electric edger.
Perfect Edges for Your Beds and Borders | Fine Gardening

2. Get Rid of Grass - Removing turf is HARD work. I'd get help. It is hard even to do for a small area. Another method that worked really well for me...took a few months. I covered the area with burlap, cardboard, 3-4 inches of topsoil and about 2-3 inches of mulch. I edged around it first. I planted the next Spring.

3. The plants - What did you get? My recommendation would be to put in some native plants, so you can get pretty birds and butterflies. If your house is grand enough, you can try some big perennials in front to give you texture and presence instead of shrubs. How about some ornamental grasses?
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Old 05-20-2015, 06:09 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
7,735 posts, read 13,649,319 times
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Awwwwwww ... thanks NK and Kinkytoes! NK, you are totally right, I AM like a kid in a candy store ... which very well could make me impatient. (Which reminds me ... should I get some impatiens? LOL, gardening joke! Good thing I amuse myself ... )

I WILL try to get photos up later today ... have to get some of my class material up first (darn work is interfering with my gardening plans, lol!) ... I am teaching in our summer session although at least it's only 6 weeks!

A couple more questions, in the meantime ...

How long does the cardboard method take to get rid of grass? I am thinking I can mow, then outline where the beds will go with all the pavers I just bought (not actually "installing" them yet, just laying them out), then start the cardboard "treatment."

I THINK, from what I've read online, I can put perennials in large-ish pots for now, 'til my soil is ready to receive them ... which might not be until the fall? Luckily I am on sabbatical this fall so I will actually have time to get some "fun" stuff done.

NK, if I use Round-up instead of cardboard, how long will THAT take to kill the grass? I am just trying to create a timeline for myself for this summer/fall.

Thanks and reps to you both ... I will be back later today!
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Old 05-20-2015, 06:49 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,504 posts, read 46,063,271 times
Reputation: 47523
roundup kills in a few days

How to Kill Grass With Cardboard | Home Guides | SF Gate

both methods have pros and cons
roundup pro-quick and thorough, con- well it's roundup

cardboard pro- you'll get nice worms in that area, grass and weed seeds won't grow in darkness
con- time, unsightly if mulch slips and cardboard shows

either way you will need to dig or till although there is a No Dig type of gardening but it is more for veggies than ornamentals

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-dig_gardening

Last edited by no kudzu; 05-20-2015 at 06:59 AM..
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Old 05-20-2015, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
7,735 posts, read 13,649,319 times
Reputation: 24706
ETA: this photo ...



That's the house now -- shrubs at the front door and lawn. No flower beds anywhere.

==================



Quote:
Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
roundup kills in a few days

How to Kill Grass With Cardboard | Home Guides | SF Gate

both methods have pros and cons
roundup pro-quick and thorough, con- well it's roundup

cardboard pro- you'll get nice worms in that area, grass and weed seeds won't grow in darkness
con- time, unsightly if mulch slips and cardboard shows

either way you will need to dig or till although there is a No Dig type of gardening but it is more for veggies than ornamentals

No-dig gardening - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thanks again NK! I actually found that SFGATE guide with a google search, but it wasn't specific about how long the process would take (days? weeks? months?). Sounds like it is quicker in the summer so maybe it would work ...

I think for my first bed I will try RoundUp, just so I can get the stuff I just bought planted relatively quickly. And I don't mind digging and tilling ... I bought a tiller last year but haven't used it yet!!

Another question: have you ever just pulled out shrubs? Do you cut them down first? As I wrote in the OP, the shrubs right outside my front door are in terrible shape and I am just going to give up on them. I was thinking of just using my electric saw to cut them down as much as I can, then dig & pull. Would that work?

Another question: My first flower bed is probably going to be about 15' long by 3-4' wide ... does that sound like an OK size? My front yard is about 50' deep and the first bed will be in about 4-5' from my driveway ... there is a path to my front door and a light fixture about halfway down the driveway, and the first bed will be in between those things. I don't know if 15'x3-4' sounds huge or tiny ...

Last edited by karen_in_nh_2012; 05-20-2015 at 08:46 AM.. Reason: added photo ...
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Old 05-20-2015, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,504 posts, read 46,063,271 times
Reputation: 47523
well to an out of control gardener that size sounds very tiny but you can cut your teeth on that size and expand it later o build another one later. Pay careful attention to recommended spacing. I don't though cause I like the cottage garden look and I strive to have so much crammed in the plants shade out weeds.

Now...remember there is a real big network of roots under those foundation plantings. How long have they been in? if more than say 5 years you will have quite a network. you might need a hatchet as well to whack those underground roots.
I know it will not just yank up unless it is very shallow rooted and recently planted. I've seen "landscapers'- I use the word cautiously...try to pull out shrubs by tying a robe to a car bumper. HaHaHa..the bumper comes off.

Remember roots dull and even break tines on a tiller. You don't want to do that.
This what you need to do. Go out there right now and start at the drip line and start what we call root pruning. Basically you take a sharp shooter, my favorite gardening tool..and stab it into the soil all the way around and as deep as you can go.

This is break up larger roots. This is how mature shrubs are dug on in the fields. You work your way around dislodging the plants from the soil. Don't chop them down cause you won't have a handle to yank with.

This can be back breaking but is the kid of work good ol' boys love. Destruction and mayhem. Hire this part out. Shake off as much soil as you can so you don't have to replace too much. But you still will want to add good garden soil to refresh it for your new beds.

Then after breakfast...
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:02 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,504 posts, read 46,063,271 times
Reputation: 47523
Karen..didn't see the photo when I last responded. Lovely house and lot.

I'm still gonna try to dissuade you from removing those shrubs. if you cut them are they hollies? to about 6-8 inches they will grow to look like brand new shrubs and you can prune them to keep them small.

Then why not make beds in front of those shrubs. Those shrubs are called foundation plantings and they are important. They anchor your house. not literally but certainly for balance.

and don't make a straight line. Take your hose and make gentle curves where you might go 5 feet closer to the front door, swing in a bit, go 4 feet next curve and at end you can swing out even more. I'm talking feet from the existing shrubs. If you remove those shrubs you will have white foundation of your house showing probably. perennials are hidden in the ground for most of the year so all that will be shown is yucky white foundation and then your siding or brick or whatever it is.

close to the front sidewalk and door you can have a specimen tree like a low growing japanese maple or a winged euonymus for fall color. The larger shrub at the front looks like it hides the front porch. can you include a stright forward photo so I can see how much space there is from the driveway to the front of the house?
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:08 AM
 
Location: oregon
899 posts, read 2,638,217 times
Reputation: 676
Ok NK now this Oregonian has two new words to throw at her gardens friends..
So after breakfast and at least 3 cups of coffee, start looking at perennials , meaning
coral bells for edges, daisy's , salvia's , and whatever else might handle all your weather.
I have a 50ft x 4ft flower and two other smaller ones and now they are mostly perennials, they
are less work and over time can be divided for more plants..
Talk to one of your good local nurseries and they will steer you in the right direction for plants.
Happy gardening
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