Raised Garden Design Tips

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Cascading plants to soften the edges of raised beds

Gaps in a raised bed made of stone can be filled with cascading rock plants, such as the perennials phlox stonlonifera or subulata, hens and checks, thyme or false strawberry, or annual bacopa or million bells. Cascading plants can also blur and soften the edges of a severe frame, giving a more natural look to a man-made structure.

   
Should I use trestle ties for my landscape edging?

Railroad Tracking

Pardon me sir, is that the Chattanooga choo-choo? No, it's just the railroad ties you're using for garden landscape edging. If you're gardening without a lot of green, you can do your garden planning on a budget with inexpensive materials such as railroad ties for garden edging.

Railroad ties work best as landscape edging on straight and level ground, and can be placed horizontally or verticially. They make s strong, decisive statement--you don't even need the singal lights or a train whistle. You can use railroad ties to enclose any raised bed garden design, although it's best to stick to square or rectangular sections--just make sure to dig a trough in hard soil and hammer the ties firmly.

Don't worry about damaging older railroad ties--they actually last longer and look better than newer ones, which can leak creosote and other toxins into your soil. Now if you could just keep your kids and hubby from building a train set around your garden, you'd be fine.

   
Can I plan a raised garden around my fish pond?

Raised Gardens and Fish Ponds

You've heard of the not so big house, how about the not so big lawn? You've always wanted a koi pond or fish pond...but you plan to place it in the middle of your unruly garden bed. Impossible? Not with raised gardens! Once you've cleared the space for your fish pond, you can think about garden planning and raised garden bed design.

Since most fish ponds are made of stone, it makes sense to use stone garden landscape edging for an organic look, especially if you want to surround your fish pond with a raised garden bed. We suggest a semicircular raised garden bed if you use stone garden edging, since you'll want to be able to feed the fish.

You might include a stone bench in place of the remaining landscape edging--perfect for your garden and your fish! Now you have a peaceful fish pond and the not-so-big lawn, so you can spend more time watching fish and cultivating a Zen state of mind.

   

Tall flowers for raised gardens

Raised beds, especially small ones, are rarely appropriate for trees and large shrubs. Use tall annuals or perennials to add focus and height: Ornamental grasses, ferns, foxglove, coreopsis tripteris, bee balm, some black-eyed Susans, balloon flowers and delphiniums are among the plants that can reach four feet or more.

   
How do I define the area for my raised garden?

Raised Gardens: Stake Your Claim

While your friends scramble to grab the next hot property, the only property you're interested in is your raised garden. But with an entire backyard to play with, how do you stake out your territory? Sorry, but computer simulations won't help in garden planning--time to get out the drafting paper or a sketch pad.

For example, HGTV's "Seasoned Gardener" Chris Dawson mapped out an L-shaped garden on paper and marked off the perimeter, where the landscape edging will go, with measuring tape and stakes. Dawson built a raised garden from scratch, but measuring tape is important in raised garden bed design that involves a kit. The perimeter of your landscape edging will determine how much soil you use, how evenly your plants will be spaced and where the sun or shade will fall.

If you mark off the perimeter and garden edging of, say, rectangular beds along a north-south line, you'll be all set for preferred sun exposure. Talk about a hot property--not too hot though! Also, if you outline the bed, you can make adjustments in the garden landscape edging in case you have any thick roots or barriers, or unexpected shade in the afternoons.

So let your friends scramble for that Ventura County townhouse. You're sticking to your garden, thank you--and an attractive garden just might make your house a hot property.

   

Plant selection for raised gardens

The finite space in a raised garden means it's important to consider the mature nature of the plants selected for it. A two-foot azalea that's charming in a nursery may want to be 12 feet; well-established lilies can spread to the point of excluding other plants.

   
Can I use aluminum siding as landscape edging?

Aluminum Siding and Landscape Edging

Aluminum siding's no longer for cottages, houses and double-wides, as well as telemarketers who call during dinner! You can buy aluminum garden edging in a variety of fashionable colors, and it's extremely durable. Some garden planning enthusiasts frown on aluminium--too ugly, too industrial.

A landscape edging system of interlocking joints and composite timber is prettier and just as durable. When you're doing your raised garden bed design, whether you only have a small trailer lawn (let's hope not with a car on bricks) or a big maintenance-heavy backyard, you can consider easthetics as well as practicality. Aluminum siding may create a uniform look if you use it for garden landscape edging, or it may look out of place if you have a stone house.

On the other hand, composite timber or stone can dress up a mobile home park. Aluminum garden landscape edging is also:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Flexible if you change the shape of the garden
  • Warp-resistant
  • Easy to work with to create smooth curved lines or crisp straight lines
  • Designed to last a lifetime

This is not the ugly aluminum siding you remember as a kid, this is landscape edging aluminum siding. Give that telemarketer a break--just don't give any info out over the phone or you could lose more than your plants. Protect your identity, protect your garden.

   
I have soft soil, will metal edging work?

Heavy Metal, Soft Soil

You're a soft touch but you want to use metal garden edging in your raised garden bed design. How do you keep the metal from shifting about in soft or friable (that's easily crumbled) soil? You can dig a trench and compact the soft soil (which you need to do anyway as a step in your garden planning once you get to filling in-between the landscape edging.)

Although you hate ramming the point home, hammering metal garden landscape edging into soft loose soil will secure the garden edging. Use a board to cushion the hammer impact and make the border an even height.

If your aim is to prevent pests such as gophers and invasive weeds from getting past your garden landscape edging, hammer the metal garden edging at least two inches below the surface. You do have a metal fist in a velvet gardening glove...and your attractive raised garden design is as smooth and strong as you are.

   
What types of landscape edging boundaries should I use?

Healthy Boundaries

You hear the need for boundaries from self-help books and psyhologists--healthy boundaries, violated boundaries, respecting the boundaries. So while your friend is trying to persuade you to be her emotional sponge at all hours of the day and night, you're turning to your garden and viciously yanking out the weeds that threaten your garden's health.

Garden landscape edging is essential for any garden to keep mulch and soil in, weeds and grass out. But strong landscape boundaries are attractive features of raised garden bed design. The problem? How do you draw the boundaries? What materials do you use? The types of boundaries you use depend on your garden's shape. Some healthy garden planning ideas:

  • If you're going to have a curved design, say around decks, you may want bender boards for your garden edging. If, however, your boundaries need to be harder and more durable, try landscape edging in painted metal to prevent rust.
  • Afraid of being hard-hearted? Plastic is flexible and can withstand the heat--just make sure the plastic from your garden edging doesn't leak. You want to keep in the good emotions, er, plants, and filter out the pests.
  • If you're using stone (I am a rock, I am an island), include mortar in your garden planning so you seal those decorative stones tightly--weeds and turf grasses can't penetrate!

Most of all, your boundaries need to be visible and clearly defined. With the peace you get from having a well-protected garden, you might have the confidence to tell your friend you can't skip out on your sister's wedding to hear about your friend's broken nails and latest man-troubles.

   
Is plastic edging with spikes good for flowers?

Spikes of Power for Flowers

You hate to box up your flowers in stone or wood garden edging...you're a flower child and flowers should be born free. The problem with leaving flowers out on their own is, they get eaten and trampled by predators. You're a mellow chick with few rules (although you won't let your kids watch TV at all) and you want to surround your nasturtiums, lilies and amaranths with plastic garden edging. You dig the idea of the plastic white picket fence type garden landscape edging.

If you drive the spikes down in the dirt, you can block out the burrowing gophers--sorry, little dudes. Part of your raised garden bed design strategy is to keep those flowers safe. The flowers may poke out and get mixed up with a bad crowd.

If you want to loosen your restrictions, you might try natural garden landscape edging like mondo grass--just make sure it's higher than the soil and the actual plants. How high? Not sky-high, but enough to guard the flower of freedom from the establishment. Long live the sixties and if you're going to San Francisco, pick some flowers from your groovy garden and wear them in your hair.

   

Plant selection for raised gardens

The finite space in a raised garden means it’s important to consider the mature nature of the plants selected for it. A two-foot azalea that’s charming in a nursery may want to be 12 feet; well-established lilies can spread to the point of excluding other plants.

   
How much soil do I need for a triangular garden?

Golden Triangles

Love triangles? Not you! Raised garden bed design with triangles? Absolutely! You like the look of a spaceship design or a Star of David with composite plastic timbers for edging. But when you're planning your garden landscape edging, how much soil do you need? When you do your raised garden planning, remember that in a closed garden space with garden edging, you need less soil--though the soil you do use has to be high quality.

Generally speaking, for raised gardens with triangle landscape edging, you need 60 to 80 cubic feet of soil--just enough to fill the triangles to the top. For a single triangular raised garden bed design with a second tier, plan 18 to 20 cubic feet of soil. Don't forget that with your soil you need organic compost, so don't fill the space between the garden landscape edging with soil.

You don't like love triangles...but your plants in your Star of David raised garden bed design seem to be carrying on a romantic intrigue. Wisteria Lane, anyone?

   
If I'm planting cauliflower, how large a garden do I need?

Vegetable Spacing and Garden Planning

You bought that perfect couch, but it's too large for your house. Oops. You have difficulty judging space. Don't just rush out and buy or select landscape edging before you select your plants. Determining what you'll plant is part of your vegetable garden plan and good raised garden bed design.

You may have only 4 feet by 4 feet if you buy a raised garden kit with wood garden landscape edging. Planting experts recommend that, for example, cauliflower and cabbage plant centers need to ber 15 to 18 inches apart. Overcrowding with your plants will wear out the soil faster and prevent your veggies from thriving.

Similarly, that huge sectional is blocking you from walking through your living room. Don't guess at how much space you have--grab your handy measuring tape, and remember, objects appear a lot smaller in a wide furniture store or online.

   

Tall flowers for raised gardens

Raised beds, especially small ones, are rarely appropriate for trees and large shrubs. Use tall annuals or perennials to add focus and height: Ornamental grasses, ferns, foxglove, coreopsis tripteris, bee balm, some black-eyed Susans, balloon flowers and delphiniums are among the plants that can reach four feet or more.

   

Cascading plants to soften the edges of raised beds

Gaps in a raised bed made of stone can be filled with cascading rock plants, such as the perennials phlox stonlonifera or subulata, hens and checks, thyme or false strawberry, or annual bacopa or million bells. Cascading plants can also blur and soften the edges of a severe frame, giving a more natural look to a man-made structure.

   
How do I plan a rooftop garden?

Rooftop Garden Planning

Up on the roof...when this old world is getting you down, go and garden up on the roof. But your raised garden is wilting despite the natural wood or rubber landscape edging. Looks like your garden planning is getting you down.

What do you do? Raised garden bed design lends itself to hot spaces such as a roof, especially if you use cooling material such as stone garden edging and a built-in mini-sprinkler system. Also, you can actually lay down an area of sod and enclose it with stone garden landscape edging on just about any roof. A flat roof is easiest to work with.

Worried about water seeping through the attic? Irrigation actually improves roofing system insulation--just be sure to have the drainage system cleaned. To prevent other damage, check your organic gardening compost for material that might erode the roof. If your roof starts leaking, you'll be down in the dumps! Many rooftops have ventilation or heating ducts, especially apartment building roofs--place your garden away from extreme heating and cooling spots.

Actually, your whole garden can be a cooling spot--the EPA has encouraged roof gardening as a way to cool and pruify the air. Doing your part to stop global warming and pollution should give you a lift--all because you had an idea for rooftop raised bed garden design.

   
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Christina Chan