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Love to have flowers in your garden, but hate the pulling of weeds, and constant fertilizing. Well there is a way to plant a flower garden that avoids most of the tedium of gardening, along with the bending and stooping. This method will not eliminate all the maintenance associcated with gardening, but will cut it down to once a month or less.

Wild flower gardens are pretty but you still have to weed, and remove undesirable flowers. You want to avoid weeds as much as possible, and cut down on your watering too. None of us has as much time as we would like, well this method while somewhat time consuming to set up, will cut your gardening chores to a couple of hours a month (depending upon the size of the garden).

First look at your flower beds, what do you have growing there now? If you can part with everything in the flower beds, or if you don't have anything that you can't replace easily then skip this step and move on, if on the other hand you have prize flowers and plants growing you will need to wait until the fall and the plants go dormant. Dig everything up, discard any diseased or annual plants. Clean the roots of the rest, removing as much soil as possible without damaging roots. Wrap the roots in cloth, or burlap, cover with plastic and store where they will not be subject to freezing, or temperature extremes.

Now for the second step, remove as much top-soil as possible, down about 18 inches if you can. This soil will work well in a lawn, or vegetable garden. Some place where weeds are not going to hurt.

The third step is to order a truck load of topsoil from your garden supply store, it should be sterile, and weed seed free. Mix half of the top soil with equal parts sand and compost (25% sand, 25% compost, 50% top soil). Fill in the hole you created when you removed the top soil. Remember the top soil that you didn't use yet, mix it 50/50 with compost and pile it on top of your flower bed. I know it is piled high, don't worry that helps save some labour later on. If you like you can build a brick or wooden border around your beds for a decorative touch. You should have a pile that is about 18" above the original ground level.

Purchase soaker hoses from your garden supply store, enough to lay along your garden about one foot apart over the entire garden. No area should be more than one foot from an edge or a hose.

Plant your saved plants and any other perennials you like. Notice I said perennials, that is because we don't want annuals that have to be replaced yearly, or biannually. We want to plant flowers that will keep growing with a minimum of attention. If you really like annuals we will get to that in a few moments.

Get a large quantity of pine shavings, It is sold as pet bedding, and spread it at least three inches deep over the whole bed. Pull it back about 3 to 4 inches from the stems of all plants. Go ahead and cover your hoses with the pine shavings. It won't hurt and will help cut down on the watering.

We are almost done. You want to cover the pine shavings (use pine not cedar because some of the oils in cedar will damage plants) with decorative bark. Use a light colored bark in areas where the summers are long and hot, darker bark in cooler climates. Be extremly generous with your covering of bark go ahead and add another two inches or so. Your garden bed in now about two feet higher than it was.

If you want a green cover during the summer, purchase a ground cover like the Ice plant, it comes in many different varieties, and has attractive flowers. Place it in the bed between the bark and the pine shavings.

When your plants start to put out new growth in the spring, start watering once a week or 10 days for about half an hour. You will have to check the soil around the plants to know how often and how long you water it will depend upon your plants, the water pressure and temperature. If you do happen to get a few weeds, they should have very shallow roots, because they don't reach the soil, only the pine shavings. About once a month add a liquid plant fertilizer, following label directions.

If you want to add annuals for color at certain times of the year, or to accent the color you already have. Plant your annuals in clay pots, and push them into the soil after you clear an area of bark and pine, push the pine and bark back to edge of the pots when they are in the soil. If you use unglazed clay pots you shouldn't have to water them seperatly, unless you have an extremly dry or hot summer.

Your garden should continue to remain weed free for about 4 or 5 years, when the weeds start to come back, pull the pine away, replace it, and put the bark back supplementing as needed. If you can keep the pine and bark layer about 5 inches deep you will eliminate most weeding, and keep your water use down. Monthly triming, and fertilizing won't take very long, and you can have more time to enjoy your flowers.