Cleaning The Flower Bed For Dummies: Mulch Ado About Nothing

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Last fall, my wife and I spent $792 to have somebody dig up a couple of dead tree stumps and clean out our flower bed. It desperately needed it, but after having it done, I was all about learning how to landscape myself or at least maintain what I have. And that led to my weekend project, cleaning out our flower bed, which had in half a year become sloppy again.

I love getting in the dirt and pulling weeds and mowing the yard and working up a sweat. I’m at 11,694 steps for the day and haven’t touched the treadmill.

But how do you properly clean out a flower bed?

I don’t know.

But I did it anyway, and I don’t think I’m too far off.

After a couple of YouTube videos watched and a trip to Lowe’s, I got after it. The process was pretty simple: 1) Hoe the weeds, 2) Bow rake what you can out of the flower bed, 3) Use a garden knife to cut out the roots, 4) Bag the leftovers, 5) Bow rake the area to sift the dirt, 6) Pour mulch and then use a hoe or even your foot to spread it.

I don’t know what my square footage was like, but the area in front of my house is probably 24-30 feet long? That would be my guess without using tape. Did that on Friday night, but to give you context as to what I was dealing with, I’ll show you this section:

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Blech.

I took my hoe and started working out all I could: weeds, old mulch, dead anything. I’d drag the hoe along the ground, and I’d strike the hoe against the ground if I could see some semblance of a root. Once I got a good chunk of the mess onto our driveway, I took my bow rake to it, leaving me with sweet, sweet soil and a handful of weeds that didn’t want to come quietly.

That’s where my garden knife comes into play. It’s my Hori Hori garden knife. In Japanese, ‘hori hori’ translates to dig dig. The goal is to kill the weed at the root, the weed being “anything you don’t want in your flower bed.”

And then I’d bag it up. Ended the weekend with 6-7 filled bags of clippings and old mulch.

That’s when I’d add my mulch. I picked Preen’s Mulch (Chestnut Brown) with Extended Control Weed Preventer at the advice of a Lowe’s employee, who noted that he liked Preen’s because it wouldn’t “float,” which I presume means wouldn’t get up and float away in a rain storm.

It was a lot of work, and I’d estimate it took me 6-8 hours in all between work I did a couple of weeks ago, work I did Friday night and then what I did today. But here’s the final look:

The little bit of grass you see at the front was from mowing and weed eating the area. I blew that out with my handy-dandy blower that I inherited from Mom.

Anyway, not that I’m a pro, but if I can do it, you can do it!

Now to get good at pruning and planting …

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