Magazine article Sunset

Garden Notebook

Magazine article Sunset

Garden Notebook

Article excerpt

I love the soft, spongy feeling of grass turf under bare feet, but I have too much of it. Every year, I take out a few dozen square feet of lawn to extend my flower beds or make more room for growing shrubs or trees. This spring, I have a new perennial bed in the works, and in a frenzy to get it done, I tore up the turf with a rear-tined tiller, then covered the bed with a thick layer of manure. I let the manure sit for a month to smother the chopped-up grass below, then I dug it in and planted.

If you're pinched for time, try this speedy method: Just strip the top 1 to 2 inches of turf off the bed with a spade (I take it off in 9-by 24-inch strips) and stack the strips nearby. Then dig out the bed to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and line the bottom of the bed with the strips laid upside down.

Put the amended backfill on top, soak the bed, and plant the next day, after the soil has had the night to settle and dry out a little.

Whenever I try to make a rectangular flower bed without first outlining the edges, I always wind up with something that looks like an uneven parallelogram. I finally solved that problem by going to a mountaineering supply store and paying $6 for a half dozen aluminum tent stakes with holes in the top. …

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