Tips For Preparing New Perennial Beds and Gardens
Promoting Good Drainage
Check the Soil Acidity
Perennials require a few simple basics for good growth. The first step toward having a beautiful garden is to select your planting site. Mark it off, then clear the area of all growing material and debris.
Promoting Good Drainage…The next step in garden preparation is to make sure your planting area will have good drainage. Plants appreciate damp – but not soggy – soil. If your soil tends to be clay-like and heavy, follow this procedure to encourage drainage:
- Spade or rototill the planting area to a depth of 12-18”.
- Apply an equal amount of peat moss, compost, sand or other light material.
- Thoroughly mix the spaded soil and the soil-loosening additives.
(Even if your planting site already has good drainage, you should spade or rototill the ground thoroughly to a depth of at least 12” and apply a 4” layer of compost or brown peat, mixing the additives thoroughly with the soil.)
Check the Soil Acidity…Plants can’t absorb the nutrients they need to grow if the soil doesn’t have the proper pH level. (Acidity or alkalinity is measured on a pH scale ranging from 1.0 to 14.0. Anything above 7.0 is alkaline; below 7.0 is acid. A pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 is ideal for most plants.) Determine the pH of your soil with a kit you can obtain at a local garden center or check with your county’s or state university’s Agriculture Extension Service, either of which will test soil for you. If the soil is “sour” (extremely acid), an application of pulverized limestone will help restore the proper pH level. On the other hand, if the soil is too alkaline, it can be brought into balance by adding peat moss and an acid formula plant food.
Fertilizing…Enriching your planting site with selected nutrients will encourage superior growth and more profuse blooming. An easy way to provide a healthy diet for all types of plants is to enrich your bed or garden with an application of Spring Hill’s Advanced Formula Plant Food. The Plant Food should be mixed thoroughly with the top 12” of soil.
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