Preparing a cacti/arid bed

ourarkaFebruary 20, 2013

Here in the southeast UK I will be constructing an arid bed this year, for some hardy cacti/succulents. It is in full sun and my main question is how to best prepare the soil? I have cleared all old plants/weeds and intend to improve the soil drainage, weed fabric on top and then obviously plant of gravel/rocks. My main question is how do I go about constructing it in terms of getting the optimum drainage, both below and above the weed fabric?

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Couple of questions first. What type of soil do you have? What is your average annual rain fall? What is your lowest temp?

In any case I would start by tilling the soil. Then amend the soil with lots of small gravel and some compost. In areas with high annual rain fall I would mount the bed up with small gravel or decomposed granite. I like my beds around 6" above grade. Then place weed fabric, plants and mulch with your favorite color rocks.

There is a garden designer on your side of the pond named Paul Spracklin who grow amazing cacti( with winter protection).

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 4:49PM
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Raised beds, made of either bricks / breeze-block or planks (or roofing tiles) - I've used them all and they work most excellently as walls for such a bed.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:39PM
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Forgot to mention that the beds are already raised actually. Average annual rainfall can be quite high - not sure of figures off the top of my head but varies quite considerably each year. Lowest temps rarely drop below about 30F for any length of time.

I will be hoping to protect the more vulnerable plants, especially from the winter rains. I won be planting anything too ambitious though as want it to be a fairly low maintenance area of the garden.

Any ideas on 'definite' plants would also be great.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 12:09AM
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Forgot to say that the soil here is pretty good, but always on the clay side of normal. Never very heavy clay though.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 12:37AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Everything planted at a slight angle to drain water from the center of the plant should help. Cold hardy Agaves could be happy for you. Some of the Aloes from the eastern (rainy) side of South Africa are happy with 40" (100 cm) of rain a year, look at Aloe suprafoliata for example, just protect from cold. Aloe polyphylla planted in nearly straight grit might do very well.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:07AM
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