Sometimes you just start envisioning something and then one day you get a wild hair and start dumping heaps of compost on the yard to create your new garden!
I had intended to keep things simple this year and just use the garden area that was already prepared on the west side of the house, but deep down I knew that just wasn’t going to be enough space after leaving a garden full of beautiful raised beds and paths at our old house.
Grow Food Not Lawns
Between the sidewalk and the driveway, there was a section of lawn that was just begging to be something besides grass to mow. It’s on the south facing side of the house and right below my office window, so all along I knew it would be a perfect garden area if for nothing else than more flower beds.
Back in March, I tackled the important task of pruning the blueberry and blackberry bushes, and then the next day worked on ammending the soil around them with compost and expanding those beds to make room for more berry bushes. But the compost dumping didn’t stop there!
Just Do It!
I had been eyeing up this corner of the yard, hoarding away cardboard boxes to put down over the grass, and decided that was the day! I started laying down the flattened cardboard boxes on top of the grass and shoveling compost on top to hold them down. Using the tractor bucket, I dumped load after load after load of black gold composted manure (thanks, horses!) into this area until the entire thing was a big ol’ pile of mess to transform into my vision for the garden.
I spent the next few hours raking out all the humps of compost into a somewhat level garden. Then I decided I really needed to make some paths through this huge new garden area, so using the shovel I started carving out a path down the middle. Trying to make sure my paths were staying on track, I moved to the east end of the garden and started on the path heading towards where I had started on the other end, when the paths suddenly became very clear.
I decided that instead of long boring straight lines, that I would follow the curve of the sidewalk and make a looped path from one sidewalk to the other. Then I thought it would be super convenient to have another path that led to the driveway in between where we park the cars. This is when everything really began to take shape and despite the blisters already forming from all the shoveling, I was getting super excited for what was unfolding!
When I went back to start connecting the straight path from the other end where I originally started, I realized I really liked the flow of the curved paths, so I turned left to make a rounded corner to connect to the other loop path. At this point, I had two smaller sections and two really long sections of mounded garden beds. This would have worked well enough as is, but I wanted to have more paths so I could reach further into the beds without having to step on and compact the soil. I shoveled out two more paths to criss cross through the long sections to make for six divided planting sections.
The rounded corner paths connecting to each other made for not only more flow through the garden, but also an additional section in the center of the garden as a sweet surprise to the design! I originally thought maybe I would do an herb spiral here as a focal point, but I prefer to plant herbs all throughout the garden for companion planting so that would be a poor use of this new center island the paths created. Instead, I’m going to have Clayton build a tall garden obelisk to use for a trellis on this section of the garden! This will provide visual interest and useful vertical growing space for climbing plants and flowers.
Once the layout for the paths and the garden sections was in place, I spent some more time carving out the paths and leveling the compost in the beds. We got a heavy rain the next day so that helped to smooth out the ground even further.
At our first house, we joked that we changed the garden area every year and once we were finally done with it, we moved! I wasn’t going to let that happen with this garden area. I always wanted river stone paths, so there was no if, and, or but about going to Lowe’s to finish my paths! We figured 30 bags of river stone would be enough and well, sometimes you just get lucky with your calculations as this was the exact amount we needed for the paths.
To say I’m thrilled with how this new garden turned out doesn’t even begin to capture how much I love it! Clayton loves the curved paths and agrees that this is a much better use of the space than an awkward corner of grass to have to mow. Every time we walk past this area we stop to look at it, and there isn’t even anything growing in it yet! Well, except for the grass and weeds that OF COURSE are already trying to push their way to the surface. Keeping the stone paths and beds free of weeds will be a challenge but the maintenance upkeep and the blisters earned in designing this garden are totally worth it!
Ready for Planting
The seeds I started in the house are all growing well and I’m getting ready to transplant the seedlings to bigger pots soon. Really the only things I was concerned with were the tomatoes and peppers since those take so long to grow! Direct sowing is my gardening method of choice, so towards the end of this month I will start getting the cold season plants in the ground in this new garden area. I absolutely cannot wait to see this garden brimming with green in just a few months!