March – Planning the Herbaceous Border

I could chatter on romantically about flowery beds and borders but actually they need preparation and care followed by regular routine maintenance.  This is an efficient way to approach them.

The aspect is most important both to the plant and to you.  Ideally a west facing bed will give the best results as it will get more sun for longer. If there is a wall at the rear of the planting all to the good as you can use the wall for climbers and increase the impact of your planting.

It will take glyphosate a week to take effect.  You will see a difference in the colour of the weed.


Add plenty of composted manure.  Use the bagged kind from the garden centre or you can get a recycled compost which has been produced from household and garden waste available at most recycling centres. It is safe, clean, organic and has been heat treated to eradicate most weeded.

When creating a herbaceous border think weed! If the border has not yet been marked out or dug over then you need either to spray off completely with a glyphosate herbicide (glyphosate  is a translocating herbicide.  It touches the leaf and given time kills the weeds right down to the root) or take off the turf with a machine.  This would ideally have been carried out in the autumn and then the turves can be turned upside down to rot down over the winter.  

Once spring arrives you can cultivate the bed.  If you have ground elder or bindweed (which only shows up at the end of April!) then do not dig it.  All you will do is cut up the root systems and encourage it to spread.  Catch the weeds as the young shoots emerge with glyphosate.  You do not need a knapsack and special spraying equipment. A simple hand held household spray bottle will do at this stage. I keep a bottle near the back door.  Five minutes, a few drops of glyphosate for each weed once a week is all you need to keep the border free of weed. There is no need to get on your knees with a trowel.

There are rules that you should follow:

- Do not get it on any of your other plants.

- There is no need to spray it all over the border.

- Do not spray on a windy or wet day.

- Do not get it on the soles of your shoes.