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Slate clipping, weeds and planting

Hi I have a small area under my window with membrane and Slate chippings on top. I do get some small weeds come.  through. I’m wishing to put plants in the border also. My question is do I have to remove the entire membrane/slate and start again or can I get away with putting in the plants as it is now and just pull out the weeds as they come through? 

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  • Particularly next to a wall, you'll need to improve the soil before your new plants stand much of a chance. It's worth taking the time to do the job properly. Ideally, remove the slate to a heap at a distance from the site, and take off the membrane--these do more harm than good and (as you've found) they don't properly stop the weeds anyway. Get rid of the membrane, but keep the slate. Decide on the size of the bed, and then dig it over to about 20cm down (more if you can manage), and dig in lots of organic matter. This could be soil improver or compost in bags from your local garden centre--you can also get compost from councils quite often. It does need to be properly rotted though, so not just lawn clippings or tea bags! Once it's evenly dug in, level the area and plant your plants. Next to a wall, soil is usually dry. If it's sunny there, you could go for drought tolerant plants like lavender, rosemary, sage, cistus or santolina, for example. If it's shady, it's a bit more tricky, but Epimedium 'Sulphureum', Geranium macrorrhizum and Tellima grandiflora can do well. Plant the plants at a distance from the wall if at all possible. Once they are well firmed in, you can put the slate back around them over the bed and it will help to hold in moisture over the summer.
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