Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Mix the Perfect Soil for Annual Beds

The life of an annual plant is compressed into a very short period of time. Annuals make the journey from seed to adulthood in a single growing season. For this reason, keeping annuals healthy from start to finish provides the best impact in your home landscape. Seasoned gardeners know that great soil tops the list of most important items for a successful garden. But how do you mix the perfect soil for annual beds?


The best type of garden soil consists of particles of rock, organic matter and sand as well as a mixture of air and water. This combination produces nutrient rich soil that drains water quickly without pooling that can cause root rot. The perfect soil for annual beds doesn't just happen. Gardeners need to create it through a little hard word. The rewards are fabulous and noticeable in healthy annuals with full foliage and plenty of blooms.

Collect your tools

Grab some garden gloves, a spade and hand shovel. Or if you prefer to create your mixture directly in the garden, add a cultivator, rake and hoe to the tool list. Rototillers work very well to break up soil to create a brand new garden or if you simply want to provide a good home in an existing flower bed.

Purchase enough peat moss or compost to add a 2 to 3 inch layer of organic material to the top of the garden. For rough soils, including sand will improve drainage. Your general content ratio for the perfect soil blend should contain one third each organic material, sand and clay. You've probably already got the clay right in your garden. If you have relatively good soil, lower the amount of sand or skip it entirely. The object is to add rich organic matter to provide plenty of nutrients for your annual flowers.

Getting Dirty

If you prefer to turn the garden over by hand, use a spade shovel to dig at least 8 to 12 inches deep into the soil. Break up the dirt clumps and smooth the garden surface with a rake. Dump peat moss or compost onto the garden surface and till or turn over the soil for the second time. This great effort will pay off in spades.

Creating the perfect soil blend for annual beds involves loosening the soil enough to allow for easy root spread. Since annual plant roots lie very close to the surface, you've created the optimum environment with high organic matter and well-conditioned soil. You've improved the drainage capability of the garden area and provided light fluffy soil for plants to quickly establish roots.

[Image Credit: solrac_gi_2nd, Morguefile]

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