Building a Raised Bed Garden (page 1)

Building a Raised Bed Garden (page 1)

Building A Raised Bed Garden
By Marge Talt (mtalt(at)

Gardening is a never ending series of "projects" - that's part of the fun; planning and scheming about what we are going to do. Some of them are small and get done fairly quickly and others take a bit more time. Some of mine have been going on for years and still aren't finished. My raised bed garden is one of these. It's been a "work in progress" for nearly ten years.

Planning is key to any project, as the experts are always telling us. But, sometimes the best laid plans don't work out quite as originally envisioned.

In The Beginning When our addition was finished, ten years ago, I was left with two large stone planters, steps down to a flat, intermediate level, retained by "temporary" boards to separate it from the lower garden, and a substantial pile of left over rock rejects. Eventually, all the rock got relocated (I think I've now lifted each one at least three times). As soon as the addition plans were finalized, I'd developed a site plan for this area that included a pond, steps from the intermediate level to the lower, a central axis and walls with columns and beams encasing lattice panels to enclose this garden. It was to be the "walled garden" that my husband had always wanted.

The intermediary level was to be paved, with a narrow planting area along the left wall as you look at the stone planters and steps. The pond would be on the right on the lower level about where the white PVC pipe is sticking up in the next photo. Once the initial grading was done, however, this just didn't seem right, so we decided to wait a bit and think about it.

Meanwhile, the site got dug up again to add drain tile and a PVC line for a future hosebib. I planted things in the planters, but the major area was not improving. We still couldn't come to agreement on what should happen here.

You'd think that two people who spend their days creating design solutions for others could come up with something satisfactory for themselves for a small and simple space. However, it is much more difficult to design for yourself than for someone else. Clients come equipped with sets of parameters to work within but the sky's the limit for something personal - you have to set your own parameters; tough to do sometimes.

Over the years, I planted the lower garden and the intermediate level got lovelier and lovelier as weeds took hold and grew in the awful soil comprised of fill clay and stonedust. The PVC pipe sticking out of the ground (left side of photo) remained the "focal point" - not quite what I'd had in mind. Still, we dithered around with first one idea and then another. Nothing we concocted seemed to work well given the way we'd designed the rest of the area according to the initial plan. Ideas were broached by each of us, in turn; acrimonious discussions took place; ideas were rejected.

Time passed. I built the wall along the edge on the lower half and started the wall abutting the covered walk that would enclose the intermediate part. This is as far as I got when I got interrupted by some now forgotten crisis du jour. The available stones were difficult to work with - the mason's rejects - and I seemed to always find some other thing that needed doing. The PVC pipe sticking decoratively out of the ground, for the future yard hydrant, added to the ambiance. The weeds grew and still we dithered.

>>Continued: Inspiration, Getting it Right>>

This article was originally published at Suite 101.

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