ideas for maintaining space between plants

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by TimGrayling, Oct 17, 2021.

  1. TimGrayling

    TimGrayling Apprentice Gardener

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    I find myself with a large garden, very little experience and no budget to bring in hired help.
    For the past couple of years I have waited until Spring to work in the garden, and have quickly found myself outgunned by Nature and failing to stay on top of it.

    So now I am looking to do much more in the way of preparatory work. One of the issues I have is that I like to keep some space around plants, particularly shrubs, plants with spectacular displays, and roses.

    The soil seems to be extremely fertile, with every kind of seed germinating come Spring. All my display plants quickly have weeds and grasses growing up through them, and once that starts it is incredibly time consuming to try to remove them. Can't get any kind of hoe in there because it is too close to the plant I don't want to damage.

    So I wondered whether something like bark chippings might work to suppress weed growth. Even if I only do this around the main plants in the garden, and it works, it will create some separation and increase the visual appeal.

    But do bark chippings really work, or is there a better alternative?
     
  2. flounder

    flounder Gardener

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    Chipped bark, composted wood chips and the like, all work by excluding light which a lot of weed seeds need for germination. A good two inch layer on the soil around the shrubs will help to keep the weedy things coming up. Perennial weeds can still make an appearance, but you'll see them and deal with them.
    Another benefit is I think it highlights the plants you want to grow and show.
    With a large garden, buying in bulk will save you a few bob but you'll still have to redo it after a few years as it disappears into the soil.
     
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    • TimGrayling

      TimGrayling Apprentice Gardener

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      That's great, thanks very much for replying. Is there an issue with putting the bark too close to the stems? I read it can rot them, but it doesn't;t sound all that likely.
       
    • noisette47

      noisette47 Total Gardener

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      It's best not to pile any mulch directly on stems/trunks. In practice, the birds and other wildlife tend to spread it around anyway, so it's just a case of keeping an eye on things to make sure wet mulch isn't accumulating around them. Another tip: woody mulches use up nitrogen from the soil in the process of decomposing, so it's worth sprinkling a high-nitrogen fertiliser (High N, lower P & K) before spreading the mulch.
       
    • TimGrayling

      TimGrayling Apprentice Gardener

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      That's great, thank you. I think I might use some stones to make a couple of circles around key plants and then fill with mulch. I picked a shed load of stones up and have been looking for a use for them. Thanks for the tip about the nitrogen. I do have a lot of compost ready to go out. Would it do the same as the fertiliser if I put compost underneath wood chip?
       
    • noisette47

      noisette47 Total Gardener

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      Hmmm...the nutrient content of home-made compost is very variable, so no telling whether it would add nitrogen in sufficient quantity. Perhaps best to go with a proprietory product like dried blood....and use your compost to improve the soil :)
       
    • TimGrayling

      TimGrayling Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks very much, I will take that advice.
       
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