bed development ..... eye strain hazard

ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5June 15, 2010

i dont know how you guys hijacked my gifting post with bed development .... but whatever ...

you guys are having problems.. because you are trying to build a bed to plant in today ...

for the rest of the season.. you should be preparing NEXT YEARS BEDS ... NOW!!!! ... so you will have solved all the problems you are struggling with now ...

you spend a month killing the grass ... i use generic roundup ... spraying every 10 days or so.. until you kill most of it ...

then you add irrigation ....

then you add mulch.. or not...

then next year.. the soil will be mostly weed free .. or if you mulch or lasagna... fluffy and ready to dig ...

yeah it take planning ....

it also forces you to buy no more than you have immediate space for ...

so get to work on NEXT YEARS BEDS ....

here are 3 differing sets of pix of how it can be done ... i dont leave my pix up forever.. so study them.. take notes.. there will be a quiz ...


here the grass was previously killed.. waiting for tree guys to come offer some chips ... obviously a conifer bed site ...

here is fixing a stupid prior design.. lol

next set .... one of the most important things to take into account.. is how the lawn is mowed.. how you tools will be used in the design ... i recall once spending two days making a perfect 90 degree grass elbow .... took less than one week to discover the darned lawnmower could not make a 90 degree turn ... carp ... note the use of the hoses for the edge.. you then put the sprayer nozzle on the hose.. and shoot the roundup INTO the bed .... and if you scroll back up.. you can see perfect interface lines between grass and dead grass ... the front line of hose is just extra.. not part of the plan ...

and perhaps a repeat of fixing the stupid design

the curves are made by lowering the mower deck.. and cutting an arc the mower can easily handle.. then moving in the hose ...

here is a pic from the WAY BACK MACHINE.... that bed just kept getting bigger and bigger..

and finally.. little grass ... under the giant oak ... but here we are adding drip irrigation ... this is the liberty bed you have seen quite often ... it took 3 years to kill all the poison ivy and 1.5 caliper cherries in this bed.. before i ever got to this point ...

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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

Very interesting,Ken! But way too much work for and old guy like me!! Lol! Phil

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 9:08AM
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flowerchild59(z6b IL)

Quite the tutorial. thanks for posting it.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 10:01AM
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mary4b(4b WI)

Hi Ken, that's a very helpful set of photos, I am particularly interested in the irrigation.

what do you use/where do you get it/how much does it cost

Can drip irrigation like this be set up so that one can drag a garden hose over to the irrigated area and hook it up to the "system"? That's what I would need to do.

Since you are a conifer guy, as well, maybe you can offer some insight as to whether this area I have under my old Norway pines (finally identified this spring on conifer forum!) could be planted with hostas and watered with irrigation similar to your set up?

Basically, I want to create a nice woodland walk, there are a lot of deciduous trees/shrubs on the north side of this pine row, so the garden would go much deeper than just this pine row. I can also place hostas on the south side of the row, where you see the trees throwing their shadows on the grass.

It's very difficult to dig under these trees and it's quite dry under there. I'm thinking I might want to take a year or two to fluff it up somehow, but I'm pretty sure I can't use a lasagne/method or deep mulch, as it could harm the trees, right? What about roundup for the scrub plants that grow under them right now, can I use round-up under the trees?

Any thoughts on how I might prepare a bed under there? Having some hostas under them is my first choice, but if it isn't going to work easily enough, I could put the hostas north and south of the pine row and mostly plant masses of other medium directly below the pines where it's hard to dig...epimedium, geranium macrorrhizum...things that like dry shade.

I sure would appreciate your thoughts on how you might handle this area.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 10:09AM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I like the lasagne method myself. Guess I'm too much into instant gratification. But if I could stand to wait, I'd sure do it like Ken does!

One thing I like about the lasagne method (newspaper and mulch) is how quickly the soil underneath improves. Everywhere I've dug into a lasagne bed to plant more plants (in future years) the soil has been beautiful. Much finer then it was to begin with.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 11:49AM
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Betsy Rheaume

Planning I can do, but the patience to wait a year, not so much.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 1:31PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I'm getting more and more patient as I get seems like it's easier to do the job "right". Plus, since I can hardly keep up with the weeding in my current beds, I'm in no hurry to create a nightmare that I can't keep up with!

Ken, do you think that a layer of newspaper and some mulch would be enough under my pines to get it going...and if I stayed, say, under 5" total, perhaps it wouldn't hurt the pines?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 6:39PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wow ....

here is an oldie


    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 1:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

bumping up for some conifer dudes designing beds ...


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I know you use drip irrigation. How do get the water to these beds? It looks like many of the beds you are creating are island beds and they appear to be quite far away from the house/water source. I can see you are laying out 1/2 inch tubing in the beds. Do you just use 1/2 inch or do you use 1/4 inch extensions in beds also? Thanks for the education.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 4:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey steve ...

hosta need constant water.. and are under irrigation ...

conifers.. once established after about 2 years.. need no water other than what God gives them .. ergo.. no irrigation ...

however ... i did add what i call cemetery spigots all over the yard ... in the first few pix. look for circle beds with a stake coming up.. holding the spigot ... way out of focus.. but use your imagination ...

and you will see one in the hose pix .... a 3 foot garden stake with a spigot ...

with a 500 x 500 foot yard.. i have a spigot within about 50 feet of any bed ... best upfront money i ever spent ..

spent the first year dragging 500 feet of hose with a single rainbird around the hosta ... the first watered was dry before i was 1/8 of the way thru the beds.. hence the drip lines ...


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 6:06PM
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I do agree with Ken about spigot placement.
When we installed our lawn sprinkler system, we had them run a spigot to the middle of our back property line. Our yard is 100 feet wide, so this affords us being able to spot water almost anywhere in the yard with a 50' hose.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 10:01AM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

You have quite a set up there Ken. Some thought went into it, for sure, before you began.

All your ideas are and should be quite beneficial to those who are wanting there own garden but don't know where to start.

Not quite sure who the original hose guy pun intended. I guess it really doesn't matter.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

time to bump this one up

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:24AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

time to think about next years beds ...


    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 8:55AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Can you do a lasagna bed under a tree? Is it adding too much soil over the roots?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 12:48PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

bumping this one up ...

and answering bk's question a bit late.. lol ...

i would think lasagna is more of mulch.. which break down into the soil below .. so i bet.. not sure.. that it wouldnt be a 'build up' issue ...



    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Ken, by "next year" are you meaning 2013?

I am printing out this whole thread, before the rest of your pics are taken down.

We don't have space requiring a riding mower, so our dimensions are for a push mower. We will be adding some irrigation pipe also. I do not remember reading if you put the irrigation as an addition to the spigot in the bed or not, like leaving soaker hoses circling the beds?

I had soaker hoses which the heat here decomposed, they turned into strips of fibrous rubber, and they were beneath the 4 inches of bark mulch. I don't think it will get that bad where I plan on locating the hosta, beneath the pecan trees and behind the Teahouse where they will have morning sun, broken shade in the midmorn/early aft, and shade in the later afternoon. Always hot though, high humidity.

My hauler is a farmer who will be delivering top soil/manure cut with bark. Should I add some sand or something to aerate the soil? How high should I raise the beds above the natural garden level? Any advice appreciated.
I have a cement driveway which sometimes gets hot enough to fry eggs, but won't be setting my plants anywhere near that.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:21PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I believe I would plant a shade tree next to that egg frying driveway, preferably on the west side.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 7:34PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I believe I would plant a shade tree next to that egg frying driveway, preferably on the west side.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 9:37PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey soft shoe ... moccasin ...

first any pic can be reloaded if you wish ...

i am saying.. that if you have hosta coming in may .. [me in MI] ... its a little late.. trying to build the bed in april [in MI] ...

the point is to build next years bed.. this year ... so if you are getting a delivery for this years bed.. consider making next years also .. the guy is coming anyway ...

and yes.. i obviously work on a scale different with where i came from.. suburbia.. but the process is easily scaled down to such ..

the bed being developed in this post is a conifer bed.. NO IRRIGATION ... my lot is 500 by 500 ... which means i would need about 1000 feet of hose from the spigot at the house ... so.. similar to a cemetery.. i put spigots all around the yard ... so i never need more than a 75 foot hose ...

but with the mineral sand .. and hosta spread over about 3 acres of space ..... hosta need drip irrigation .. i just could NOT drag hose all over the area.. and the pressure needed to run one rainbird.. did not cover enough area .. when with the same pressure i can water 500 hosta.. as compared to 50 ... and this is engineered drip tape.. not recycled tire hose.. which is useless IMHO ...

as to this, i suggest you start your own post.. so replies will be sent to you ... and for no other reason .. why bury it here :

My hauler is a farmer who will be delivering top soil/manure cut with bark. Should I add some sand or something to aerate the soil? How high should I raise the beds above the natural garden level? Any advice appreciated.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:35AM
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I am like Phil ken. A little old to be tackling as big a project. But the older I have become the more patient. You would think the opposite would be true, as in the don't buy green bananas approach. lol. When I moved here from AR I didn't have time to do what you have done. I had less than a year to move a ton of hostas with no bed prepared to put them in. So I had to dig a small hole for each and stomp them in (my version of your driveway theorum). It does work - if needed. It is better than nothing but has its price. I have started three beds since then and each I have worked on over a year before planting hostas. You are absolutely right. Regardless of which method you use, the best ingredient is forethought and patience.
Just what "the doctor ordered"- patients. lol
But the doctors teach another lesson. After years in their profession, they still consider their business "pradtice". Now THAT is scary. As you get older you will learn how to use the caps key.
And one last thought: it is always more rewarding to do something, even if it is wrong, than do nothing at all! At least when it applies to growing hostas.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Ken, I have always been afraid to spray "Roundup" around my trees thinking it could weaken or kill them. After reading your method I checked the Monsanto website and they say that it is harmless as long as it doesn't get on the foliage or in a wound. They do say that late summer or Autumn is optimal and they do caution that young trees with green bark will absorb the glyphosate as will suckers on mature trees.
I do appreciate the tip which will make my life a lot easier. Thanks,

Here is a link that might be useful: Monsanto

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 9:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would presume.. that green bark.. means the green cambian layer.. which is the vascular system of the plant.. is right there just under very thin bark ..

when we go to kill a stump.. all you need hit with round up.. is that green line right inside the trunk ...

so yes.. stay away from that tree ...

but otherwise.. frankly.. bark is dead tissue .. on an older tree .. and it does not have the capability to 'suck' in the bad stuff ...

all that said.. there really isnt much reason to be spraying that close to a tree .. most weeds.. react to killer.. w/o spraying the whole ... just spray the part further away from the tree..

and dont forget low pressure to avoid drift


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

time to bump this one up ...


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 12:20PM
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barbaraincalif(Z 8/9) does the drip tape hold up for you? Have you had any problems with emitters clogging or root intrusion?

We use a Netafim hose in both the yard and vineyard, which is flexible but with thicker walls and emitters every 18 inches (yard) or 42 inches (vineyard). It can be quite the puzzle laying it out at 18 inch hose spacing in odd sized/shaped garden beds! We had to replace the original hose after 12 years because of...clogging and root intrusion, but overall it works very well and is a very efficient way to irrigate.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:15AM
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Do you have any update pictures of your carefully prepared beds?
I find I don't plant in rows so is very difficult to design a water system like yours . We have very hard water from our well and it plugs up lines very quickly . We did get a softener in the house but would take too much for the system for outdoors too. I also tried to prepare beds in advance and all of a sudden they too have been loaded with hosta, fern and other perennials I seem to buy. I do dig all the sod out first so the grass is no problem but it was loads of work too. I want instant gratification because I have to catch up to all you experienced growers.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 12:38PM
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We develop new beds without any chemicals Jon, cut the grass very short, top with a thick layer of newspapers,
then compost...the papers will kill the don't need herbicides.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I love it someone starts of a conversation with "We". It almost invariably is intended to try and intimidate the person you are talking to by infering you, the individual, represent a vast overwhelming concensus of everyone else in the world.

Well, I realize that Roundup / glyphosate acts through the leaves of a plant interrupting plant enzymes (only) and is deactivated when it comes in contact with any soil. Once it has dried it is safe for children or pets.

You may prefer not to use glyphosate and prefer to save up newspapers and spread them to kill weeds. Fine with me, it is your choice and in a small area it is fine. I find it takes far more effort and can take far longer than desired for the newspapers to decompose. I prefer to simply spray glyphosate because it is far quicker and more convenient; especially since I have large areas to cover.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Now, JonnyB, your conclusion is not appropriate here. Intimidation is not something I found in either post. Put that chip into your mulch pile, honey.

I (or WE if referring to me and my DH and the dogs and the parrots) have two neighbors who grace us with their newspapers. When I prepared to lay the groundwork for the Hosta Sanctuary late this fall, I took all of the newspaper and spread it across the area most difficult to kill the weeds. It also served to help level it. Then I laid the landscaping fabric, then the mulch over that, then the cement pavers, yadayadayada, and voila it is now looking pretty classy.

I do not have large areas to cover, relatively speaking. Our lot is something like 140 deep by almost 90 wide. But the back forty is 25 x 100.

What I want to know is, can I spray glyphosate on the evergreen camphor suckers off a stump, close to my dormant Blue Angel hosta? I know Ken says low pressure will work, just what if it gets in the soil?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Well, I may be jumping to conclusions. If you were simply expressing a partnersip situation then I apologize hmac. It is a very sore spot based on a recent incident where the "We" tactic was attempted to be used on me.

I expressed my objection to a fence being put around an iconic whaling statue and the response started out with "We" were against whaling and went on to describe how horrific it was to slaughter such a noble animal, etc., etc., etc. I calmly explained that I was not trying to bring back whaling and I simply didn't like the fence. I did add that "We" are against child bullying, torture and a few other things to make my point.

So, maybe I over reacted.

Glyphosate enters through growing leaves only. It is impossible for it to enter into the DORMANT Blue Angel plants. It does not enter through roots and does not enter tree trunks except of they are young and green and have not grown protective bark or have a scrape on the bark. It would work on any growing hosta through any spray on the leaves.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Ken and others,

Nice winter day here in the mountains of SW Virginia, 63 degrees outside with nice gentle rain.

My outbound work flight was cancelled due to bad weather in Atlanta, so came home and dragged all the tropicals outside for a gentle day soak. Only about 50 plants nowadays, I am slacking off a bit.Used to bring 150-200 plants in for the winter.

Nice to see brugmansias still blooming and variegated albutilons with blooms, hibiscus buds opening etc. Still have some geraniums and rex begonias in pots blooming as well.

Potted up last three pots of hosta roots I had laying around in bags for a couple of months, since digging and cleaning out any rot from them when I rebuild the beds. Put them in pots and winter over in the basement. Crystal Fountain, Gigantea, Sieb. Elegans, Invincible and Galaxy.

Made a deal with a nearby horse farm for both well rotted manure and fresh. About 2 miles away, will need a bunch of plastic bins which they will fill and set aside for my pickup and return.

Plan to spread about 4-6 inches of well rotted horse manure on a couple of 10 year old beds, work the soil and then replant next Spring. Soil prep is the key to great hosta beds when you don't have Illinois soil or Delaware mushroom soil.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:39PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

bumping this one for hosta irrigation info


    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 2:48PM
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bragu_DSM 5

Take these pictures down now.

No one should be so organized.

New York City?

Get a rope (tape) ...

Hell, ken for president!



    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 11:18PM
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robo (z6a)

ken, thanks for digging up this thread. Very valuable information and it looks like it took almost as much time to write this out as it did to make those beautiful beds!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 9:18AM
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