After Planting  Bed Preparation Maintenance  Planting

Bed Preparation:

Successful perennial gardens start with thorough and thoughtful bed preparation. Some of the key points include: eliminating perennial weeds before turning the soil; insuring a well drained soil yet having it retain enough moisture for good plant growth; providing for sufficient organic matter in the soil; and adding fertilizer as needed.


Eliminating perennial weeds:

The first step in soil preparation is to get rid of perennial weeds before you turn the first spade of soil. When establishing new beds in grassed areas or in areas where there is heavy weed growth, apply a non-selective, systemic herbicide such as Glyphosate (Round-up) to the area. Apply this material to weeds that are actively growing, generally when temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. Spring applications are good with fall being another time when weed control is good with this material.


Designing The Shape:

Outline the shape of the bed with a garden hose and spray within the outline. It will take 7-14 days before you will see the weeds being killed. After the vegetation is brown, you can till the area. For weeds that are particularly aggressive, the first spray of Round-up may not control all of the plant. It is suggested that after tilling to leave the bed remain unplanted for a few weeks to see if any of the perennial weeds regrow. If they do, a second application of Round-up will control the remaining weeds. It is a good idea to not be too much in a rush to plant without getting all the weeds under control otherwise you end up fighting those weeds while trying to grow perennials.


Providing drainage:

Well-drained soil is essential in order to grow perennials successfully but is most critical when it comes to overwintering perennials. More perennials are killed by soils that stay wet over the winter than by the actual cold temperatures. To ensure a well-drained site, avoid planting in low-lying areas. During bed preparation, add organic matter at a rate of about 25-30 percent by volume of soil. This translates to adding about 3-4 inches of organic matter on top of the bed and working it into about 10-12 inches of soil.

In areas that tend to have less than good drainage, raising the bed either with timbers, rocks, landscape bricks or similar materials will greatly improve drainage and your chances of growing and maintaining a perennial bed. Drainage can be checked by simply digging a hole 8-12 inches deep and filling it with water. Let it drain and fill it again. If this water drains in less than 1 hour, drainage should be satisfactory.


Adding organic matter:

Organic matter is the key to improving less than great soils. There is no easy short cut and no magic soil preparation material that can take its place. Organic matter helps to improve the physical and biological properties of soils when added in sufficient amounts and to sufficient depths.

The bottom line is, don’t short cut this part of bed preparation. Organic matter improves the structure and aeration of clay soil and improves moisture and nutrient retention in sandy soil. There are a variety of organic matter materials that can be used depending on availability, preference and cost. Materials to consider would include compost, peat moss, composted barks, leaf compost, mushroom compost, and composted manure.

Fertilizer rates:

Generally, the fertilizer requirements for new beds consists of adding about two pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden bed area. Till this in at the time of bed preparation.

Select your specific planting condition:

Verbena (some)
Phlox (some)
Dicentra (some) Bleeding-heart
Geranium (some) Cranesbill
Dianthus (some) Pinks
Veronica (some) Speedwell
Sedum (some) Stonecrop
Epimedium Barrenwort
Aegopodium Bishop's weed
Ajuga Bugleweed
lberis Candytuft
Nepeta Catmint
Houttuynia cordata Chameleon Plant
Gypsophila repens Creeping Baby's-breath
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Polemonium reptans Creeping Jacob's-ladder
Lysimachia nummularia Creeping Jennie
Coronilla varia Crown Vetch
Lathyrus latifolius Everlasting Pea
Tiarella False Miterwort
Galeobdolon luteum Golden Deadnettle
Bergenia cordifolia Heardeaf Bergenia
Papaver nudicaule Iceland Poppy
Hedera Ivy
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese Spurge
Polygonum Knotweed
Stachys byzantina Lamb's-ears
Symphytum grandiflorum Large-flowered Comfrey
Santolina Lavender Cotton
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Leadwort
Convallaria majalis Lily-of-the-valley
Liriope Lilyturf
Duchesnea indica Mock Strawberry
Alchemilla alpina Mountain Lady's-mantle
Oenothera missouriensis Ozark Sundrops
Mentha pulegium Pennyroyal
Vinca Periwinkle
Hosta Plantain Lily
Aubrieta deltoidea Purple Rock Cress
Euonymus fortunei 'Colorata' Purpleleaf Wintercreeper
Antennaria Pussy-toes
Arabis Rock Cress
Saponaria ocymoides Rock Soapwort
Chamaemelum nobile Roman Chamomile
Arenaria Sandwort
Artemisia schmidtiana Silver Mound Artemisia
Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-summer
Lamium maculatum Spotted Deadnettle
Potentilla tabernaemontani Spring Cinquefoil
Hypericum calycinum St.-John's-wort
Clematis paniculata Sweet Autumn Clematis
Viola odorata Sweet Viola
Galium odoratum Sweet Woodruff
Armeria maritima Thrift, Sea Pink
Thymus Thyme
Petrorhagia saxifraga Tunic Flower
Asarum Wild Ginger
Achiffea tomentosa Woolly Yarrow

Gardening Basics

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