Monday, April 22nd, 2013
I’m a big fan of creating new plant borders using a layering technique that I first learned about when creating veggie gardens. Well, I’m discovering the same method can be applied to perennial borders.
Above: Front Garden “Before” makeover. (Sigh. I wish this was also a house makeover, but gardens are my specialty, not carpentry.)
Above: 8 cubic yards of “organic garden veggie mix” soil from West Creek Farms in Glen Valley. Contains fish meal, ultra kelp, worm castings, alfalfa, composted fine bark, mushroom manure and sourced low silt sand.
My back hurts just looking at it.
Above: Getting the curves right using a garden hose. Indispensable trick. I wouldn’t know how to create a new bed without one.
Above: Corner bed completed. The front edge of the border will be retained using recycled ties that we dug up from in front of the old bed running along the front of the house.
Above: Instead of digging up the sod for the entire area, we simply removed the turf around the perimeter, and then lined the entire area with a combination of cardboard and newspaper. We dumped the soil on top of the cardboard, and voila – new garden bed minus all the extra digging.
This method is known as “lasagne gardening” because of the layers applied directly on top of the ground. The cardboard kills the grass underneath and will eventually rot down. You can plant directly into the bed right away. If planting bigger shrubs or trees, you might need to puncture the cardboard so you can get the proper planting depth. Otherwise, just plant your perennials straight into the new soil. Make sure you apply a good depth of soil on top of your barrier, as this acts as a light barrier preventing growth to the surface. I’d recommend a minimum of 8 inches of soil.
Above: Front view of the “lasagne bed.”
Above: Here you can see the outline of the right border before the cardboard is applied. The purpose for removing the sod is to create a buffer against weed growth in areas where the soil depth will be less than the optimal 8 inches.
If you were creating a veggie garden using raised boxes, you don’t need to dig out any sod. Simply apply your barrier (cardboard or newspaper) and add soil straight on top.
Above: Finished effect using the low-dig lasagne garden method. Complete with ginger cat acting as inspector.
I chose a design that would accentuate the diagonal line of the property. With the garden sandwiched between two linear driveways, I wanted to move the eye away from the hard edges of the asphalt. By adding a small covered porch and new front door, I’m hoping to eventually create a compelling focal point on the house so that the driveways become less conspicous. The curved lines of the borders will help move the eye where I want. To test my theory, scroll up and look at the “before” photo again and pay attention to where your eye goes.
Now with all the grunt work done, here comes the fun part…positioning and planting all the new perennials. Stay tuned!