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I am preparing an area appr. 5m by 1m to become perennial garden bed next year. I am going to plant plants gradually throughout next year. I am currently using top soil from elsewhere in the garden and in-house made compost to amend the soul in that area. Nothing is planted in the area at this moment, and there used to be only grass there before (and weeds occasionaly). Regarding next year, grass and weed will inevitably appear in the area, and there seems to be two school of thoughts regarding dealing with that:

  • My neighbor says I have to keep anything from growing in that area, except the plants I am going to gradually introduce.

  • I say I can grow white clover (trifolium repens) in the area, which would be gradually replaced by plants, avoiding that way dealing with grass and weed.

Who is right?

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I would not plant white clover anywhere near a garden. It's stoloniferous and can become quite a weed. An annual cover crop would be a good idea if you're not planning on growing vegetables in a specific, well-defined area. Lots of people use an annual rye for that. The key for any cover crop is to NOT let it set seed.

Three years ago I did pretty much what you're planning on doing. When I converted lawn to vegetable garden I first manually removed as much of the lawn as possible, using a flat-bladed spade (a sod cutter would've been a better idea). This eliminated all grass and most weeds. The first year, I had to hand-dig the dandelions (and some inevitable grass) that were left behind. I also pulled/tilled weeds that had sprouted from seed. I've continued the hand-pulling as needed, but have found that the best way to avoid this is to mulch the vegetable garden. I've used cocoa bean hulls, which break down over the winter and help build tilth. You cannot use this kind of mulch with melons or cukes, however (rots the fruits) - hence the continued hand-pulling. It works great with tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and beets, though.

To sum up - try to keep the weeds down either by pulling or mulching, or both. On no account let a weed go to seed - you'll just be compounding the issue for future years. And I strongly recommend a nice organic mulch.

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