flower beds

Here is another question with regards to the flower beds right in front of my house. Each is about 15 feet long and 5 feet wide. You could tell the previous ower didn't take care of it very well for the past years. 1. There are some short evergreen bush stuff. But they don't look very healthy and grow out of shape. I was thinking about trimming them. But sine I don't like the looks anyway so I want to replace them with some modern plants. So shall I simply dig them out and replace with new plants? I want the new plants easy to be taken care of and stay green in the winter time, hopefully some stuff I could buy from homedepot or lowes, any suggestion? 2. There are some vines crawling on the ground of the flower beds. They look very messy I definitely will get rid of them. I would assume I could this simply pulling them out, right? 3. Do you think it's a good idea to mulch the flower beds? If so what should I do? Gosh, you could tell i'm a nervous first time home owner. Any suggestion appreciated. Thanks!
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NetComm888 wrote:

If you replace the shrubs with other shrubs be sure to leave enough room between the shrub (as it will be when fully grown) and the house foundation. This will allow you to get behind the shrubs to keep them trimmed and to get at the house for repair, painting, etc.

If the vines are on the surface it's probably OK to pull them out. Poison ivy vines grow underground. In any case, gloves help. If you suspect poison ivy is present, invest in some prevention before getting into it. TecNu is a PI treatment which is used by foresters and linemen who come in contact with PI regularly. I use yellow soap (e.g. Fels Naptha). Lather the soap up on your arms and let it dry there. Then pull the vines. Then wash it all off.
If you use gloves on poison ivy, paint the backs red so you can tell which gloves you used and you can take care handling them in the future. The paint will wear off the palms.

Mulch has advantages for flower beds, but it's not necessary. Mulch will reduce weeding requirements and will hold moisture. It will eventually decompose (since it's organic material) and will need to be replenished. If you want to know how useful it is, mulch one and not the other.
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