Icing on the Cake.

07 Aug

Everyone likes a beautifully maintained flower bed with all the flowers manicured to perfection, the grass edging crisp and trimmed and the shrubs a perfect sphere of leafy greenness. A beautiful sight. Then you look down, close at the ground…eugh. Weeds have germinated. There’s footprints everywhere.  It’s just a bit messy looking. What can we do to get this A+ area into a AA++++ mega gold star bed?



Give it a coating, a cover, a topping.


Of Bark – A nice cheap option. Most bark will be a nice dark colour, so it makes for a lovely contrast for those brightly coloured flowers and shows them off even more! It’s really kind of amazing how available it is too.  It seems to me that any shop that has anything to do with garden stuff, sells bark. Get enough of a layer down and it acts as a pretty good weed suppressant as not a lot of light will get through.  The weeds are also easy to spot due to them being nice and green against a brown background. There are a few negatives though. It is rather annoying to pick leaves out of and blowing tends to move more bark than it does leaves.  Not what you want for something that usually lasts a couple years if left to its own devices. Also, as it is natural matter, it will degrade over time so it will need topping up.


Of Slate/Shingle/Stones -This is the real divider. Using Slate adds a nice colour variety to a garden as it can come in a nicely blue or purple as well as general grey rocky shades. The upside of this is that you sort of get two for one – one colour when it’s nice and sunny, then a darker version when its rainy. Unfortunately this is an expensive option as stone doesn’t come cheap, and it’s probably the most exhausting option to put down just due to its weight. It doesn’t need refreshing as much as the others though. Rocks and stones are pretty darn permanent. As for weeds and grass, it’s easier to take care of those than with the bark as the stones don’t budge if you use a blower to shift those leaves. Weeds are less irritating as well as it’s easier to spray them with chemical.  That’s if they’re even strong enough to push through.


Of Manure – The smelly choice. On the surface it is – in reality it is not. The garden standard manure from horses is left a couple of years to decompose a little before it’s used. Manure helps in several ways when it’s put on a bed. It’s a GREAT weed barrier due to its high pH, it scorches most weeds as soon as they surface and they die back. You need to be careful if you put it around any herbaceous or perennial plants though, make sure to leave an area of clear soil around the crown as the manure can also easily scorch new growth on plants. It acts as a nice feed for the plants around it too as it adds nitrogen into the soils, which is a nice little boost as plants need nitrogen to help grow. The downside, you need to put this down every year due to it decomposing over time. That cost will slowly but surely add up over time.


Of Compost – How’s your budget looking? It doesn’t matter what your answer is to be honest, money or not, this is a perfect option for you. Compost is really easy to order in as it comes in so many sizes and varieties; you’re bound to find one that’s ideal for you. Or you can just make it yourself at home, giving you a nice neutral compost that’s useable for everything.  You can check out how to make your own compost here (http://www.hsmlandscapes.co.uk/compose-some-compost/). The compost topping is easy to maintain a good appearance as you just titivate the surface gently each week to rough it up, which can also disrupt weed growth as you dislodge them and stop them from rooting in. So it’s a nice 2 for 1 action!


So if you made it through all that …the choice is yours. It’s rather lovely that all the options do act as a partial weed barrier, but some stubborn ones do sneak through. It’s easier to weed out of manure and compost as weeds are often just growing on their surface. Whereas weeding in bark and stones is a lot more difficult as the weeds are rooted underneath so you’re more likely to pull off just the growth and leave the roots, which will grow stronger and be more annoying to pull out in the future. The best option is to manually pull any weeds from the organic stuff, and spray if you decide to put down the bark or stoney options.


It’s a bit weird adding the icing after the cherry…

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