I am moving out of a rental in zone 6 of eastern USA where I built two small garden beds using thin cedar wood in an urban yard. The landlord is okay with the beds staying there or going with me, but I'm happy to leave them - enough to move already, and I like the idea of making it easier for someone after me to get into gardening.
What I don't want is to leave the beds in a state of rapid decline due to neglect, making it likely the next person will see garden beds as a nuisance and not something pleasant and accessible. I know any garden bed neglected long enough will get weedy and eventually crumble, but I figure there are better and worse ways to 'close out' the garden bed in case it goes unused for a month, or 12, or 24 before the next gardener digs in.
How should I close out these beds to keep them from being troublesome to the next tenant and to make it easier for the next gardener to get started?
I figure reducing weeds and improving soil health is the key. To do that I figured I'd spread cover crops and a nice layer of woodchips or coarse sawdust. What cover crop to use is a big question. I am thinking of rye seed as a cover crop that will have no problem occupying the space and reseeding itself to a large extent, maybe a little bit of clover to fix N although I think the soil is pretty fertile as is. Rye is also easy to crimp, cut, or pull out for the next gardener to plant in.
So far, with the beds neglected this season other than mowing/weedwacking around them, the beds get the usual dandelion and grass weeds, I suspect eventually they'd succumb to mints around here. The lawn grass coming into the bed does harm the wood quite a bit, so occupying the beds with rye or another cover crop seems best.