1. Cover the area with a layer of newspaper about 12 pages thick.
2. Cover the paper with 3 inches of compost, or a 50-50 mix of topsoil and manure (composted manure is virtually odorless).
3. Wait for six months while all the layers, including the sod, decompose to create a 6-inch layer of topsoil ready for planting.
If poor soil or drainage problems plague your yard, build a raised bed. Deeper soil fosters vigorous root growth and adds protection from encroaching grass and weeds. The extra elevation allows a flower bed's soil to warm earlier in spring so you can stop dreaming and start doing.
If your beds will be permanent, build retaining walls. Railway ties are one option, but brick and treated lumber are longer-lasting. To enjoy the advantages of a raised bed without the cost or labor, simply mound up about 10 to 12 inches of earth in your flower bed.
Continued on page 4: Plain and Simple Plant Advice