Our property is surrounded on three sides by a ditch. The east side was pretty much empty when we moved in except for a grove of sumacs and brush behind that.
Our first summer in 2002, I installed a hosta garden at one end and a rose garden at the other with some Viburnum along the middle. I lost the Viburnum to the Viburnum Leaf Beetle, so took them out. In the fall of 2004, I decided I had to connect the two and make one huge mixed border.
This area is over 1000 square feet, so I figured the best thing to do was to prepare the area using the Lasagna Gardening Method. Basically, this method involves covering the existing area with newspaper or cardboard, wetting it down, then covering that with organic matter and mulch. The newspaper smothers the weeds and then breaks down to enrich the soil. Ideally, you should prepare the bed in the fall so it is ready for spring, but I have prepared it and planted right away (in an emergency) with good results. To learn more check out the following links:
Half the bed I prepared using cardboard and the other half I used newspaper. I found that the cardboard actually broke down faster than the newspaper, although the cardboard is easier to use on a large scale like this one. It doesn't really matter unless you have to start planting sooner rather than later.
I was amazed at how many worms were in this bed after just a few months, since there was terrible soil here before I started. Half is clay and the other half is nearly pure sand and right up the middle was a glop of asphalt from when they put in the road a few years back.
There is an 18" wide walkway around the outside of the bed, next to the ditch to act as a buffer between the weeds of the ditch and the mixed border and a walkway up the middle to accommodate the asphalt that we could not get out of the soil.
Go to the next page to see what I've planted in the bed over the years.
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