New Garden Beds

During the winter months I like to plan projects for the following spring. This is exciting and of course you have plenty of time to decide on plants, shapes, focal points, etc. For a couple of years I admired tastefully decorated gardens surrounding a good-sized rock. This idea appeals to me. My sister was kind enough to supply a choice of shape, colour and size. Three rocks were transported home and that was an experience in itself. After unloading the decision was made to leave all three in the area for the future garden.

In the spring I chose one rock to be incorporated into the new garden. The other stones were placed in the rock garden. Take a look at the picture below. The rock in the middle is chosen for the new garden. The large flat side of the rock is on the ground, however when examining the rock from all sides and using a crowbar to see the different angles I decided to roll the rock forward thereby displaying it's best side. In order to show that side I rotated the rock one hundred and eighty degrees to point toward the street. This is shown in the picture on the right.

Three Rocks in Area to be Cultivated Rock In New Position

After the selected rock is positioned a piece of string is placed on the ground. The desired shape is oval. The string fell in a rather interesting manner. The effect was more egg shaped than oval. I found this most interesting and immediately revised my origninal plan. The next task is dig into the sod around the string to maintain the shape. I use the flat hoe to cut into the sod and create an outline. The spade is used to dig out sections of sod while the hoe served as a good cutting edge to divide the sections. With the wheelbarrow close at hand and the garbage bin adjacent the procedure begins. As sections are removed the sod is stripped of soil and discarded into the garbage bin. Any large weeds are pulled immediately and I sift through the wheelbarrow constantly to maintain a weed free environment.

New Garden The heavy rock is sitting on the grass. I realized it had to be moved aside and then replaced to the desired position in order to remove the turf. Something occurred to me. Just an idea about the weight of the rock and I decided to give it a try. Rocks always sink into the soil during the winter months and quite often you have to pry them out and fill with additional soil. Grass on the other hand has strong roots and could act as a base for the rock. Perhaps the sod would not permit the rock to sink to the extent of soil. So I left the grass underneath this rock and figured if it didn't pan out I could always remove the unwanted turf the following year. The result is the grass held the rock in a far superior manner than soil but the grass beneath is weed free which eliminates the risk of plants being overtaken by weeds. Occasionally I pull a few blades of grass but it is a minimal task.

Don't worry about the grass surrounding your new garden. With all the digging, tools and traffic it is likely to become unsightly during the project. This problem is easily corrected with a little grass seed or sod and frequent watering. Here is another tip, don't stand on the newly defined edge of your garden. Either stand outside the edge or step inside the garden. By standing or kneeling on the edge you will quickly remove the desired shape and unwittingly create a new one.

This particular bed is called an island garden. It is visible from all sides and in my opinion is most attractive when hilled. This is easy, just use your little garden shovel and dig a small trough around the edge and flick the dirt toward the centre of the garden. You can also use the flat hoe to begin this procedure by using the edge as your guide and tossing the dirt upward. The little shovel maintains the height and keeps the trough clear of debris.

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