The Herbaceous or Perennial Border, Layout and Soil Preparation.


The first thing I would suggest when creating a perennial border is to become nosey.
When out driving or walking, have a look into others gardens, you may see something you like or an idea you can borrow. Another good way to learn new planting ideas is to visit garden open days or gardening exhibitions. When you have an idea of what perennial plants types you like, you can then select a point in your garden to position a border. Try to determine how much sun or shade your chosen location gets. Do not try to make sun-loving plant like the Michaelmas daisy grow in an area that gets a lot of shade.

Decide the shape of your border.
Do not make your perennial border too narrow, a wide border will be easier to maintain and look far more awash with lush planting. Go gentle on the curves, we all like a curving border but avoid a very fussy serpentine shape. Try to make the border lengthy, you will be able to accommodate many different-sized and blooming plants. Use a long length of hosepipe or heavy rope to mark out the shape of your border, this allows you to adjust until you achieve a comfortable shape. When your shape is decided, you can mark the ground with marker spray or simply by scratching with a stick.
Follow this by spraying off any existing grass and weeds (if present) with a translocated herbicide such as "Roundup".

Now its time for soil preparation before planting.
Most new garden beds and borders benefit from additional organic material being added to it and dug in. This is especially true of the perennial border. So, dig over the ground thoroughly and remove all traces of perennial weeds and large stones, leave the small stones as they aid drainage and help to regulate the soils temperature. Dig or till in lots of organic matter to improve the soil for your perennials at this stage as well. If you have a good back and you feel up to it, this organic matter is most effective if dug in to a depth of 12 inches. Choose from the following source of organic matter... garden compost, leaf mould, well rotted farmyard manure, spent mushroom compost, garden centre soil enricher. An ideal situation would be to have half your soil made up of organic matter, a great reserve of plant food.

I would advise adding grit at this stage as well if your soil is very heavy, sticky or poorly drained. Digging in a good quantity of sand grit or gravel will open up your soil and allow channels for drainage.

The final part of the soil preparation is to fork around 10-20 grammes of 7-6-17 per metre squared into the soil. If 7-6-17 is not available, then any general-purpose fertiliser applied at the rates stated on its pack will do. After all this is done, you must allow the soil to and its amendments to settle for around a week or two before planting.
This gives you ample opportunity to select and source the plants you would like to inhabit your newly created border.

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