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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Raised beds & Edging materials

Raised garden beds...  There's a million and one reasons why, where and how, here's a few of my ideas. It was many years into my gardening craze before we built the raised beds I longed for. Rock and stone hold a fascination for me, I remember many walks with my Dad where he'd find a cool stone and put it in his pocket (I still have a few!).

Stone walls last longer than wood and many other materials. If built well they are also much sturdier. My new neighborhood here in Centerport is chock full of amazing rock walls I'll be photographing in the spring. This opening shot was in my old garden, one of my favorite spots, built with Pennsylvania wall stone. (Hey, there's one of Dad's stones right on the top ledge!)

Of course there's many different building materials to edge a bed with besides wall stone. Brick was popular at one time and if you have free bricks laying around, they still will work. A word of caution here, bricks will move easily and slowly sink in to the ground so you need to dig them up every few years. 

(Now how many of you were looking at the planted shopping cart instead?)

Here's another side of that Pennsylvania field stone wall in my old garden. We had some old local boulders that were found when digging a nearby foundation and I was so happy to be able to incorporate them in the design. 

Raised beds like these are easier to weed as there is much less bending but there are also negatives. Chipmunks delighted in tunneling throughout these beds and the soil also dried out much faster than nearby beds at ground level so required extra watering.

There will always be extra stone left over from a wall installation. In my case I simply laid them out in a wandering line near the back of my property. As a weed barrier I put newspaper under them. It worked well for years and had a nice rustic, tumbled look in my shade bed.

 From this angle you can see how haphazard they were. A tap by the lawn mower and they were soon in a slightly different formation but that's the exact look I wanted.

The front entrance of our driveway had been edged with boulders that came out of the hole for the foundation of our house. They had been there for about 35 years when we moved in. As a shade bed filled with tree roots it was a challenging spot but once I figured it out it was incredibly rewarding.

The most creative edging I've ever used was old pier pilings being ripped out of a neighbors garden. We simply put them in a curvy "S" pattern on their end and they were wonderful. If I was building a garden today here on Long Island I'd be combing all the curbsides taking the 2' log rounds that everybody has lined up from Hurricane Sandy. What a perfect building material!

 Across from my old house were these beautiful newly built beds at my friend Cynthia's house. A simple design and I was oh so jealous. How silly of me :-) but there's nothing like seeing all that naked soil and dreaming of what can be planted there.

Down in the Carolina's I managed to take a picture of simple block edging. Here on Long Island we call these Belgium blocks. The soil isn't raised very high at the front but gets higher in the back.

I tried the same thing with a few blocks I had beside my garage. One problem I had here was grass growing up between these blocks so I had to go out and find a top of the line weed digger...

As you can see, she worked very hard at digging up those weeds. Nothing would get in her way!

 Today if I was going to go wild and crazy I'd try something totally different. Looking through my photos for these edging materials I stumbled across this on and thought to myself that it would be so cool to edge a bed with a few rows of clay pots in graduating sizes. Just fill in behind them, fill the pots with all kinds of cool succulents and Voila!

Ah well, this is the time of year to dream!

This post is a milestone for me. Number 400 here on Melanie's Old Country Gardens. You can scroll and click along the sidelines under "labels" and find all kinds of different things. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I love writing.

Full of thanks, (and Thanksgiving leftovers)