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How to Create an Attractive Seating Area

Paul James helps a friend turn an eyesore area into an attractive seating area -- all in one afternoon.

Gardening by the Yard host Paul James is helping his friend Clark turn an eyesore area under a magnolia into an attractive seating area.

They start by cleaning the dirt off the side of the house with a pressure washer. Then Paul checks the soil under and around the magnolia tree and determines it is less than ideal. In this case, though, they don’t want to elevate the ground level by adding new top soil, because that could suffocate the magnolia tree.

The solution is to lay down landscape fabric, which will help keep the area weed free. The landscape fabric is permeable, allowing moisture to seep through and also allowing the exchange of oxygen so the tree roots can breathe. Landscape fabric is easy to install: just roll it out over the area you want to cover and secure it with ground pegs (figure A).

The next step is to add mulch -- lots of mulch -- over the landscape fabric (figure B). Contrary to what some think, cedar mulch is actually an insect deterrent, and it smells good too.

Paul and Clark complete a curved line of existing variegated liriope, which gives the completed bedding area an attractive gently curved edge.

Finishing touches include a rustic-style bench, several lush ferns and a new squirrel-proof bird feeder.

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