Plan ahead for spring and save your cardboard!
Winter is a perfect time to plan ahead for new garden beds. Public libraries usually have great garden books featuring different layouts or pick up a garden design magazine. I will demonstrate throughout spring how I start a new bed. However, I have started saving my cardboard— the plain tan cardboard only. Do not use the colored cardboard because of the ink. Here is my easy step by step procedure:
Order mulch ahead of time or have enough bagged mulch on hand to cover the new area. Use a hose to outline the new garden area. Edge along the outline with a shovel or edging tool. You can toss the chunks of dirt and grass from your edging right into the new area since you will be covering it anyway. Once the edged outline is finished, completely cover the grass with the cardboard and make sure that the grass does not come through. Use a utility knife to easily cut pieces for narrow areas as needed. (I would often have neighbors stop by to ask me questions during this process, as they may have thought I was creating a weird art project!) Fold the cardboard down into the edged outline.
Carefully cover the cardboard with mulch and you will have an instant bed without needing to haul away all of the grass and top soil. I let my new beds sit and bake all summer, killing the grass. In the meantime, you can place potted plants on the new beds for a focal point. Your new bed will be healthy, free of weeds and grass and ready for late summer planting!
Paula Ziegler is a local resident who has a concern for the fate of bees, butterflies, and all wildlife which inspire her to find solutions to creating wildlife habitat gardens that fit into the look of the neighborhood. Her hope is that you enjoy her blogs and perhaps start a wildlife garden of your own! Learn more about Paula at https://www.facebook.com/paulayourgardenkeeper