So, I decided to rip out a bunch of overgrown euonymous bushes that abutted a fence in my front yard and plant a Japanese maple garden. I had a few questions, and thought I would also post some pictures here. Background: zone 7b, approximately 50 square feet. medium clay soil, slightly acidic. the garden is in the shadow of a truly gargantuan poplar tree (~100 feet tall!) so the garden is basically in dappled light year round and gets no direct sun. I used bluestone as a flagstone border for the raised bed, then filled the bed in with a 50/50 mix of local topsoil and MiraclGro Tree + Shrub in-ground mix. I was planning on planting the following maples together in this tight space -- one bloodgood, one mikawa yatsu, one koto no ito, and one red select. The idea was a mix of both upright, dwarf and weeping cultivars, mixed red and green. Accessory plants will be one thunderhead black pine, one dwarf blue spruce, and one whipcord. My plan was to put medium landscaping fabric over the bed below, and use marble chips as a layer of stone mulch on top to complete the Asian garden look. Should I swap out the marble chips for bark mulch? Should I forget the landscaping fabric altogether? Neither stones nor fabric seem popular around here. Here are the photos of the first step. I will post the proposed arrangement tomorrow.