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New vegetable/plant bed

Posted by scorpiouno TX (My Page) on
Fri, May 4, 12 at 2:28

We have St. Augustine like most in TX. I want to take out roughly 5X30 of the grass along our fence to make it a vegetable/flower bed. I want to do this in the shortest amount of time. Effort is not an issue. I am willing to work hard to get it done and I want to do it manually. This is going to be a surprise for my wife who is out of town right now. She returns in another 12 days and I want to get this done by then.

I was originally planning to use a shovel to remove the grass where I want the bed and turn it over (based on the recommended procedure I read online from various sources). That was the quickest way to get it done with minimal problem of weeds growing through. I went to Home Depot today and the lady there suggested that I just lay fabric down on the grass in the shape of the bed I want, make holes where I want the plants, dig and plant them, and then cover up with garden soil and mulch. But the problem with that is I won't then be able to use pave stones to make a nice border for the bed.

I will have 2.5 to 3 hours every day to work on this. Lets say I have 10 days instead of 12 to do this. I realize that this is a tough project I am taking on but I want to do this. So please suggest how I should go about doing this. I plan to start work on this this weekend.

My plan is like I mentioned earlier to dig up the grass along the fence after creating an outline using a rope. turn it over (or throw it out), get the garden soil in place. (Do I need mulch over that?) Use pave stones to make a nice level border along the bed and also as a border so that grass and weeds don't get into the bed. Also use a bed liner along the fence so that weeds and grass don't get in from the other side of the fence. I have attached the link to see the paved border that I want to build. Please guide me in this to do this project the right way.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paved border for vegetable bed

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

Just to get this into clearer focus, perhaps you can provide a little more detail. The article you linked to shows a raised bed and also a bed level with the grass. I assume it's the latter you intend to install. What kind of soil do you have, and what do you intend to plant in this bed? Shrubs are going to need a bare minimum of 8 inches of decent soil. If you are working with heavy clay or caliche, You will have an awful lot of material to dispose of, to make room for the soil amendments and conditioners. You also have drainage issues to consider. A raised bed would perhaps require less digging, but you will need a way to prevent soil from coming into contact with the fence (assuming it's wood.) In the beds along my rear fence, 8"x8" railroad cross ties were laid about 8" from the fence to maintain separation between it and the bed.

There are some things in the article I don't understand. If the pavers are only a half inch or so above the lawn, without an edging to separate them from the grass, what is to prevent St. Augustine from covering the pavers with runners? In the illustration for the raised bed, they show a plastic edging between the pavers and the lawn. Those things scream "El Cheapo!" A quality steel edging would give a nice, clean look, but may be difficult to work with, especially by yourself. Either way, there will be work for the weed eater. I also have my doubts about how long 2" of sand is going to keep those pavers from shifting and sinking (each one at a different rate and angle, of course.) Are you going to try to use a stone saw to shape the pavers for curves, as recommended? I commend your enthusiasm.

I don't understand the bit about fashioning a weed barrier against the fence.

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

Thanks for the prompt response.

The first one on that page is using a metal border. The second one is with the paved border. I want to go with the paved border as it looks more beautiful. It is not clay soil we have. I talked to the neighbors and we have the regular soil like in most of Texas. Drainage shouldn't be an issue with the regular soil that we have here.
The gardener at Home Depot suggested that vegetables be in the back where there is shade for the latter part of the day and any flowers that require light throughout the day in front.

So, I will have to dig deeper for planting shrubs than the rest of them? Which vegetables (plants) would be shrubs?

I didn't understand what you mean by the soil not coming in contact with the fence? Why would I have soil on the fence? Because the bed might still be a little raised?

In the article, the pavers are half inch above the lawn but the trench itself is going to be 4 inches deep with landscape fabric and sand at the bottom to separate the lawn from the bed.

No, I am not going to put in a raised bed. i will try to get it as level with the lawn as possible but it might still be a little higher with the soil put in.

I am open to suggestions on how to keep the pavers in place. I wanted to curve the border but given the difficulty, I am thinking one gradual curve would be good enough along the length of the bed.

I was thinking a barrier against the fence so that the grass and weeds from the neighbors side doesn't get through the gaps in the wooden fence into the bed.

Now, should I also use a steel barrier and the paved border or just the paved border since you think the paved border won't be enough to stop the weeds and grass runners.

What is the composition of soil I should use in the bed? How many types in how many layers?

Also, where would be a good place to go to, if there is any, other than Home Depot and Lowes for good soil, etc. Local nurseries?

I am attaching a link where you can see the photos of my yard(the first 3 are of the backyard where I want to put in the bed) and the fence along which I want to put the bed in. I have also included photos of the side of the house where I want to eventually put in a bed but not sure if I should do it as it is not much space plus I can't easily do it by the fence on the side as it is right now designed to carry water outward away from between our home and the neighbor's.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of my yard

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

When I go to your Handyman link, I see two photos on the first page. The one at the top shows a "paver border," with no edging, and the photo below shows a "raised-bed border," with a vertical, presumably plastic, edging. Obviously, if you're going for the first option, making the bed only slightly higher than the lawn, you don't have to be concerned with protecting the fence. I was somehow under the impression that you hadn't yet ruled out a raised bed.

St. Augustine doesn't spread just by expanding its root system. It sends out runners on the surface, and it can certainly cover your pavers, whether or not you have faced it with an edging. No big deal, because you can easily trim them back with a weed eater.

It would help to have some clue as to your location. If you have a foot or more of East Texas sandy loam to work with, well and good. If you're like most of us though, you will have a few inches of a heavy, clay-based topsoil which the builder laid down for the sod. St. Augustine, being shallow rooted, may do just fine there, but most plants will require a looser soil, to do well. Most shrubs and perennials will also require a planting depth of 6 to 10 inches, sometimes more. In Central Texas, where I am, that can take you down into some very nasty stuff. I just mix in Scott's Garden Soil and Scott's Potting Soil until I get something that doesn't feel like modeling clay when I squeeze a handful of it. It should be reasonably "friable."

I'm using the term "shrub" to designate plants like roses or boxwoods. I'm going to have to plead ignorance about the needs of vegetables.

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

Yeah, raised bed not an option. I don't like how it will look in the yard. Yeah I realize how the runners will spread and yes, I will use my edger to get em off.

I am in northwest Houston. If the builder has indeed included clay, adding garden soil will loosen it up? I dug up a little of our flower beds to plant marigolds and did see some lumps of clay and even a few small rocks!

The border that I am looking at is called the Paver border. There are actually three on that page. When you open the link it takes you to the second style which is what I am looking it. At the top is the invisible steel barrier and at the bottom is the raised bed. the middle one is what I am looking at

other option

now that i think of it, maybe raised bed with border of stones - the third style in the borders page i sent doesn't seem so bad.

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

That page seems to be different each time I access it. You're getting some pretty good input over on the Design Forum, but you should probably mention that you're dealing with what would appear to be weedless St. Augustine. St. Augustine, unlike bermuda and nutgrass, is quite sensitive, and tends to go away when it knows it's unwanted. If you're going to cover it with several inches of soil, I expect that would be the end of it. If any should pop up, you can easily kill it with Roundup (which must be sprayed directly on the foliage of a plant to have any effect.) If you go with a flat bed, on the other hand, you're going to have to dig it up anyway.

So how high above grade would the raised bed of your preference be? 8-10-12 inches? A long time tomato grower told me that, ideally, the plant should have 12 inches for downward root growth. Just thinking out loud, you might contain the bed at the rear, say 6" or so from the fence, with pressure treated landscape timbers, securing the bottom ones by drilling a few holes in them and driving 18" lengths of rebar through the holes. You would have to leave adequate hammer room, of course, to replace the pickets on your side of the fence, when required.

Another advantage of a raised bed is that you could use "curve friendly" pavers. Even raising it only a couple of inches would make it easier to get a neat edge with a weed eater. There are all sorts of materials suitable for "amending" a clay-heavy topsoil, and the ones I mentioned contain a great deal of peat moss, in addition to compost and other organic materials.

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

Yeah there is a lot of input over there. Thank you for all of your assistance too. I appreciate it. I am still leaning towards a paved border instead of a raised bed. Along with liking the look better, another factor against raised bed is that my daughter might fall on the sharp edges of the raised bed while playing in the yard.

RE: New vegetable/plant bed

I have a paved brick border that I put in around my flower beds a few years ago. I also went with a curved border instead of straight lines, and I love it!! I think you'll like it too. I have centipede grass in my yard (and a little St. Augustine) and haven't had much probelm at all with grass getting in my beds. Good luck!

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