It seems that Spring or is it Summer has finally arrived to the MidWest ?

It’s at times like these when one misses being in England with it’s very much milder climate, although their winter was a tad wetter than normal ( I hear wetter than the past 200 years !).

So back to the MidWest, the bunnies are hopping around, the snakes are emerging, grass has turned green, buds are bursting and flowers are appearing, hardy folks are out and about in their yards, starting to tend the vegetable gardens in ernest.

With that in mind I thought it might be an idea to talk a little about the various methods to use to prepare ground for planting.

Easy Way :

The easiest way to prepare ground is to first cut down any vegetation to as close to the ground as possible – rotary lawn mowers are good for this, so long as you have walked over the ground and removed any large stones, branches or other debris, it also helps if the found is reasonable flat.

Next all that you need to do is to  cover the area to plant in a thick coating of newspapers, then cover these with reusable landscape fabric and secure in place.

It takes about 4 – 6 weeks to clear all the growth beneath, but when you do lift off the landscape fabric ( carefully as you can keep this for future use) and then removed the newspaper you should find bare soil beneath. Simply replace the landscape fabric and plant through this to complete you project.


Harder Method :

Cut down the growth on the area – usually with a rotary lawn mower ( do check for objects first).

Now for the fun part, stripping off the growth, this can be a strenuous operation if you use say a spade to ‘chip’ the grass and weeds off, alternatively you can use a rototiller and take a quick  romp across the hard ground until a fine tilth is established, of course you have just spread a kazillion weed seeds as you do this. If the ground really is ‘too hard’ it helps to soak the area with water the day before.

Now all you need to do is to rake to an even level  – do make sure that the ground slopes away from buildings, as when it rains you don’t want the ground to become waterlogged or allow water to accumulate near walls or on paths etc.,

Finally you can place and secure the landscape fabric, and complete the planting of your project.


Planting :

The planting technique is basically the same for both techniques :-

  1. Water thoroughly all plants to be planted.
  2. Keep plants in shady position until planting.

  3. Cut a  6 inch ‘x’  in the landscape fabric  in the desired planting position

  4. Dig a hole approximately 50% larger all-round than the plant pot.

  5. Keep this soil nearby.

  6. Add a small amount of planting compost to the base of the pit, together with fertilizer and if you have it a corn based super        absorbent.

  7. Mix these  materials together and add some water until you have a ‘porridge’ or as ‘she’ who must be obeyed would say a ‘mud pie’

  8. Select plant, tap edge of container to facilitate removal of pot, and carefully place in pit.

  9. Carefully backfill soil around plant and firm into position.

  10. Fold back landscape fabric carefully to the stem of the plant.

  11. Apply approximately 2-3 inches of mulch ( keep at least 2 inches away from plant stems)

  12. Water thoroughly, and again every other day for the first two weeks.


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