soil for garden bed
This is my second post looking for help on our soil. The first post was for our grass and this one is for the front yard garden bed, which is a pitiful mess that nearly brought me to tears today bc I don't even know the right place to start! And it's going to take a lot to even get it ready for any kind of planting so I don't want to waste any time!
We've had the house for a year now. When we bought it, it had a row of very mature yews all along the front of it, that were trimmed into perfect rectangles. I hated them. No big deal, I thought. We'll rip em out and plant some things I like. Well, I did not realize that ripping out 40+ year old yews isn't easy work, ha. Husband is a pretty strong guy and it took forever. BUT they are out now and I am super excited to have a clean canvas to start what I hope will be a beautiful fall garden someday, with some Japanese Maples and dwarf conifers and a few other interesting fall color shrubs and plants.
Today though, I just want some decent dirt. What I seem to have is a good amount of clay (although maybe not as much as I think bc there are no standing puddles after the crazy flooding 2-day storm we just had), that is chock FULL of roots, sticks, rocks and weeds. A variety of little weeds as well as these strange parsnip-looking things.
My plan was to go out there today and fill in the holes where the yews were with the dirt that's surrounding the holes, then get as many weeds out as I could, and then level it all off somewhat (leaving a slope away from the house so we don't get water in the basement, again). I'm waiting on a garden edger to arrive so that I can extend the bed quite a bit and make it have a pretty curve to it, so when the edger gets here I can make my new edge and pull up the grass between it and the existing bed, if you could call it an existing bed. It's very sad out there right now.
*Then* I wonder if I should add some topsoil and maybe some peat moss or gypsum (I've read it's good to help break up clay?) and turn it all over. THEN maybe plant a few of the things I wanted to plant, and put down a layer of newspaper or cardboard to keep the weeds out before laying some pine bark mulch over all of it. This was my loose plan of sorts anyway.
But when I got out there to see what I was working with after hubby got the yews out, I got a little overwhelmed by the mess. It's almost as much roots and sticks out there as it is soil, and a lot of rocks too, big ones. And the weeds are covering much of it, almost like grass. So I am really hoping that someone on here could guide me through the most time-effective way to tackle this.
Should I use a big shovel and just take off the top inch or so of soil everywhere? Then the weeds will just get thrown out with that inch of soil?
Or should I just ignore them bc the newspaper will kill them?
And how much of the sticks and roots should I try to remove?
And finally, is there anything specific for small trees and shrubs and evergreens that I should add to the soil since I know that's what I want to plant already?
Boy oh boy, I am finding that the prep work for just about anything SUCKS. I love planting pretty things, painting the walls, hanging up pictures. The prep for any of it though, makes me want to weep.