After the tomatoes died off last year and I cut down the pepper plants, I just left our garden beds alone all winter, so they needed a little TLC this year.
One thing we noticed last year was the tendency of grass to creep up over the beds, and for both purely aesthetic reasons and the practical "i hate grass in my garden" reasons, we decided to put in a plastic liner, spray to kill the grass, cover with a lawn tarp, and add mulch. It didn't even take a full day of work, but made things look MUCH nicer in my opinion.
Here's how things were looking after a good 6 months of outright neglect (Yes, I threw our dead tree onto the beds so I could mow).
First thing we did was mow on the shortest grass setting around the beds to get a feel for how it would look with the mulch.
Since we thought that was a pretty good border, I went ahead and sprayed the low cut grass with a grass/weed killer to keep it from coming back up through our tarp/mulch. After that, it was time to put in our 4" plastic border. Honestly, I don't know if the border will do a lick of good other than keeping the mulch kind of where its supposed to be, but it looks okay and clearly defines the edge, so thats good enough. Installing it required digging a nice little trench all the way down the 3 sides of the garden.
While I dug, my wife pulled the stray grasses out of the garden beds. After I got the border installed, we staked down our weed mat tarp in the feeble hope this spray/tarp/mulch combo will keep grass out of our gardening area. Time will tell if it does or not.
10 bags of mulch around the beds and 2 bags of compost on the beds later, I'd say our garden is looking much improved!
The plan is to go ahead and plant seedlings this weekend. We will probably go with one full bed of tomatoes again, varying types from cherry and grape to full sized, and one bed of squash/peppers.
We are also going to be putting some pots between the beds and the fence and attempting to grow some herbs this year as well. Basil for certain, maybe rosemary as well.
Amazing what an afternoon of work can do to transform how a garden looks!