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Monday, April 13, 2009

Building raised beds

Raised beds are a wonderful thing to have in the garden. Now that spring is upon us, the fever to go out and purchase new plants is raging. So often we buy all kinds of beautiful things with no idea of where we are going to plant them.

At current count, I have about a dozen different beds and/or borders planted here at this house. Each was prepared differently, it was only recently that I learned to love raised beds.

This first photo shows a slightly raised bed being constructed. It was already a circular bed before this project began. The circle bed was messy and desperately need some better soil. The stones used for the border are called Belgian Blocks around here, they are called cobblestones in most other places. Lucky for me, they were already piled next to our garage when we bought this house.
The circle bed didn't excite me very much so since I had more Belgian blocks, I decided to change the shape to a kidney bean kind of thing. I had removed the plant material from the old circle bed and rototilled that soil. That soil was fairly easy to rototill since it had been tilled before.

I knew the grassy portion though would be so hard to clear and till. Instead of removing the grass and trying to till the root bound soil, I tried something new (for me). I laid down thick layers of soaked newspaper and then put the Belgian Blocks on top of it. Once I had the shape I wanted, I continued to lay down the newspaper on top of all the grass inside the blocks.

Here's one more shot from a different view. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it after I finished laying the newspaper and then back filling with compost.

One tip I have for you is to over fill the form. Mound the soil in the center higher than the block on the outside as it will compact over the future anyway. This gives you a wonderful place to plant within. It is now three years after I made this bed and not one blade of grass has ever had to be weeded from inside this bed.

Another kind of raised bed is seen here. This evening I ran across the street to my neighbor Cynthia's house and asked if I could photograph these. Cynthia and her husband Rich just moved in last summer.

The first bed was installed last summer and the next two went in this spring. The fence was just put in a few days ago so the lawn is a bit trampled right now.

How fun it is to finally be able to look across the street and see all the exciting landscaping going on!

One last photo here, this is the ultimate raised bed. This is the perennial bed behind my built in swimming pool. It was a dream to plant with all that deep compost filled in after the rock wall was built. As for the plants, they grow like crazy in this location. If I was building more gardens, I'd build ones like this one.

Two more notes, as one gets older, it is so much easier to clean, weed and cut back a garden that has been raised like this. Plus, the drainage of water from a raised bed like this is superb and the plants just love that.

Off to bed, tomorrow is a busy day!

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