Enlarging a garden bed the easy way.

newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)June 6, 2009

This area in the pictures I wanted to make the garden bed going along in there wider and have more planting space both around the cherry tree and in that little pocket of lawn that is now behind the edger pavers.

This is how I now make beds. I put the pavers how I think I want them and then I refine the placement by moving them some here and there. When I get them exactly how I want them, laydown newspaper on top of grass that is now inside of garden bed. Wet it well and then put either leaves bagged and saved form the fall or if I don't have them, straw from straw bales.

This area being worked on is upstairs and will incorporate the quarter pie garden and make this into one bigger bed that just runs into the bed in back of the garage.

After I have tweeked the curve of the pavers and have them exactly were I want them, lay down newspaper inside the new bed.

Use about 8 sheets thick.

Put leaves on top of newspapers.

And here it is, instant new garden bed.

The end.

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That's really nifty! And sure beats having to break your back digging up a ton of sod - ugh!!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 7:10PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Thats the project I was working on this week Monday and Tuesday. Now it looks like it has been there for a long time because all you see is a mulched garden bed.

The next thing to do is to dig up the catmints and Black Eyed Stella daylilies right around the tree trunk that got overrun with grass and get the grass and weeds out. Obviously not going to dig up the rose right next to the tree, will just have to work around it.

I have a white single flowered shrub rose directly in back of the red currant shrubs which are in back of the quarterpie daylily garden section. I really want to move another of my very big already (6 feet tall) shrub roses along in there next to it. Really has to be done now as there are no plants in the new garden section to trample and its possible to work there. Once I plant that part around the cherry tree the digging and moving will not be possible.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 7:22PM
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Hey, COOL! This is exactly what my Mom told me I should do for my new perennial bed. I'm definitely trying it! Beats digging up grass, for sure!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 8:11PM
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I learned the hard way in the beginning years. I spent 1 whole summer digging up my backyard getting rid of sod, I did get pretty buff though, LOL! My biggest problem was getting rid of it all. Threw as much as I could in the compost pile, started laying it upside down in the perimeter of yard, and finally having to throw a bunch in the garbage can. I got the garbage collectors quite upset with me because they broke my can, couldn't move it, & swore I had cement in it. I got a lot wiser when it came to the front yard. Since I don't user pavers, I used my garden hose to make the border & sprayed round up on all the grass. After waiting a day or 2 to make sure the grass was dead, I put 3" of wood chip mulch over it. The decaying grass also puts nutrients back into the soil. I was lucky enough to not have much planted in the front yard that enabled me to use round up. I was hesitant that the grass would grow back in at 1 point but never did.

Rita, I love the curves of your garden beds. That walkway seems so romantic. It is something that you always read about in garden design where you can't see what is around the corner that keeps leading you. What is the surprise element on the other side of that turn?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 9:39PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I like working with these particular pavers because they can do and are made to do curves. I never dig up grass. I don't even bother using roundup. I can't tell you how many beds I have made the same way shown. In fact if its not one of my raised beds or terraces it was done this way.

I did my entire shrub border this way only at the time didn't even use the edgers. I just planted shrubs and the leaves between them looked like a forest floor to me. Since then I have made the shrub border wider thru the years and kept adding shrubs. Finially got all the shrubs done last year. So this year I got those pavers and am currently putting them along the edge of the shrub border.

This is the south sideyard. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the rose bed that goes along the entire section of the house. Those pavers on the left I put in last year. On the right you can see a section of the shrub border. Those pavers I just put along there on Monday. I just sort of put them to get them roughly in place and off my driveway were they were unloaded. Then I will go along and fix them as I have time.

Now you can see I have another grassy path in this picture, just like on the top ones. The grassy paths are what is left of what used to be lawn in my yard many years ago.

That shrub border was meant to look like the edge of a woods and has all sorts of shrubs that attract backyard songbirds. It also hides my neighbords driveway as you would never know its there.

In this picture I am standing in my neighbors driveway looking back towards my shrub border. I had been putting edgers along that back section too. As you can see, you can't see into my yard.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 10:09PM
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bigack(z6 WV)

Wonderful way to do it, but don't you need to put in DIRT also, Rita? How long before you can plant in these beds? I'm full of questions, but I need to simplify things here too, because I don't walk too well anymore. Hope you can clear up my questions! thanks, susan

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 10:25PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

No, you don't need to put in any soil. What I have done here is a very modified version of the Lasagna method. When I talked about the shrub border, I planted about a month later but of course you have to make big holes for shrubs. I just dug thru everything and planted.

Last year I made the daylily garden I call the quarterpie garden the prior fall. Put down newspaper, piled on leaves very thick. Put some compost and composted manure. Put straw on top of everything. It was really high but had sunk down by spring. When the daylilies came I just planted them directly into the whatever. Digging the hole, the longest roots were down into the soil but most roots were not. Daylilies did very well.

Even faster yet I did that other daylily garden I call the cosmos garden. As I was only doing it in the spring and had daylilies coming immediately and needed instant planting, I put the edgers, put a very thick layer of leaves left over from fall that were nice and packed down from staying in bags over winter. That put the level up to the pavers. Then I shoveled a very thin layer of soil on top of the leaves, which made it sink some. Then I put more leaves on top of soil. When the daylkilies came I planted directly into the leaves. Thats what those roots were in, not the soil under the raised bed. I took some compost and put it around each daylily as I planted.

This bed I am just writing about is the one I planted all my Korth daylilies in last spring. I posted many pictures last summer of those daylilies blooming. They thrived.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 10:46PM
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I can certainly envision my yard being like that some day! I live in a city lot where my main focus was to block out all my neighbors too. I even strategically placed trees to grow to block views from their 2nd story windows. Can't wait for it all to grow in. I visualize myself expanding my gardens exactly the way you have in years to come.

I've just recently started getting into growing fruit & veggies & saw a post you made about nanking cherries on the fruit forum I think in '03? You have been gardening all over the spectrum & your knowledge is quite valuable. Is that cherry the nanking or a tree form. I've been contemplating getting Northstar & training it into an espalier. What do you think?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 11:34PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Honestly, I don't know anything about doing espalier so I am the wrong person to ask about that.

The Nanking Cherries are further down in the shrub border, more toward the front of the property. I have never been able to get them to fruit for me even though they flower like crazy each spring. A big source of agravation for me that theres no fruit as I put them in to make fruit for the birds. I have tried to buy others to pollinate them so many times but so far no success.

I would call it a shrub. Too weedy looking to be a
tree :-((

That was early in my garden redo when I was adding shrubs that attract backyard songbirds. After that I got the small fruit crazies and at that time spent my time between the wildlife garden forum, the shrubs forum and the fruit and orchards forum. In those days they were very lively forums with lots going on. Now they are really slow.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 11:47PM
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I'm sorry, after rereading my ? I should have made myself a lot clearer. I realize I will have to research the espalier stuff, but was wondering if having a cherry tree is worth it to you & if you have ever heard of Northstar? Do you still pick the fruit for yourself & eat any of it? If it gets to the point that I get too busy & can't harvest it will it be a big mess? Those type of ?'s I wouldn't feel comfortable asking over there if you know what I mean.

I fell in love with the taste of nanking cherry when I was working at the nursery. Whenever I had spare time when the fruit was ripe, you knew where you could find me! The same with raspberries & blueberries. I've given up the ghost on nanking, I was researching it to see if a new cultivar that was self pollinating & a dwarf form came available. Actually those forums are moving pretty fast (veggies & fruit), maybe just this time of year.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 12:13AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have 5 cherry trees. I trying to remember the names of them but they are all dwarf varieties. Got two locally and the others mail order. Most except for the old cherry tree are sour cherries. I do eat them and the birds eat the cherries also.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 12:30AM
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sharons2(z3-4 ID)

I have two Nanking Cherrie bushes planted 20' away from each other across the lawn. They flower and fruit like crazy every year. They tend to get scale, though.

They have a large pit for the size of the cherry. We often don't get them all picked, and the leftover cherries don't make a mess (at least where we are - the unpicked ones are on the steep sloping side that we don't get to very much).

They do seed well, though, and new plants often come up.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 1:32AM
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"Wonderful way to do it, but don't you need to put in DIRT also, Rita? How long before you can plant in these beds? I'm full of questions, but I need to simplify things here too, because I don't walk too well anymore. Hope you can clear up my questions! thanks, susan"

Putting down soil....answer = "it depends." Notice that, when planting shrubs, Rita dug DOWN into the underlying soil, the stuff under the grass she was killing. Notice, too, that she made her daylily bed months before planting in it.

Reasons for those things = the organic material laid on top of the grass will, over time, decompose, so the level of material will therefore drop. Roots of trees, shrubs, daylilies & other perennials will be exposed.

You can plant annuals, including vegetables, right away in a newly made lasagna bed.

I use lasagna method to create new beds, although with differences in specifics from what Rita does. For one thing, I use a greater range of material, everything from crumbled leaves (I have ~10 enormous bags full of them in the barn right now), to grass clippings to contents of compost bucket, to aged compost, pine bark fines, to mushroom soil, etc. Also, instead of newspaper, you can use cardboard, although that works better if you want to create straight-edged beds. In both cases, 'tho particularly with the cardboard, you should wet thoroughly before laying down. I soak in a wheelbarrow full of water. The purpose is to help shape the material in the way that you want. Also, no, you don't need to apply an herbicide to grass, as lalalandwi did. The point of the newspaper/cardboard and leaves + whatever is to do that for you, over time. If your grass is quite high, it does help to clip it short, but IMO that's merely to enable you to lay the first layer (newspaper/cardboard) relatively flat.

Bear in mind that, even with those layers -- even with deep layers -- you may have certain weeds able to grow through. Various grasses, for example; I believe I've seen mention of bermuda grass, 'tho I may be misremembering. For that stuff, perhaps you would need an herbicide.

Also bear in mind that leaving leaves as a nice warm layer in autumn may be an invitation for mice & voles to use as burrows. Not a good thing! I had something burrowing in one of my beds, but didn't notice til this spring. The burrow was about half an inch from my plant of NEON FLAMINGO! So I almost had a valued daylily go through a winter with roots and crown exposed. Ugh. :(

Also, many people will layer something on top of the leaves, particularly if they're making beds in autumn/winter. It's for neatness as much as for any other reason - to keep leaves from blowing around. And, relative to whole ones, crumbled leaves will both decompose more quickly and blow around less.

If you have many questions about this and similar methods, you should go over to the soil & composting forum on this web site. Many people with much experience there. Not to mention, it'll be on topic. :)))

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:53AM
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I just thought you'd be interested to know, I was inspired by your post, so I tried this today :)


    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:03PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Hey, great job!! I just added the direct link to your
post in the TN Gardening Forum, just makes it easier
to look :-))

Here is a link that might be useful: Direct Link To New Post

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Thanks Rita (oops, I'm not good with posting links!) And thanks for the idea! This is really awesome. I cannot believe how fast it went. I have a HUGE bed to do this fall, and this is going to make it so much easier! I am thrilled!!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 8:32PM
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