How to - Techniques

Renovate your garden

By
Judith Adam

Fall is the perfect time to implement new ideas and think ahead to next year


Making your bed
(adjusting the shape of a flower bed)
Now that the bed is empty (save for any shrubs), consider its size and shape. This is your opportunity to enlarge the area or change its contours. Soften a bed with straight sides by rounding the corners or making it crescent- or kidney-shaped. Circular beds can be elongated to form ovals. Use a rubber garden hose (more pliable and co-operative than vinyl) to lay out the desired shape. Dig out turf grass within the outline; use the pieces of sod to patch any areas that are now outside the new line.

With its contours redefined, drainage, soil texture and nutrition can all be significantly improved. Add coarse builder's sand and organic materials to improve drainage, bring oxygen to the root zone and increase fertility. Spread five centimetres of the sand over the soil, then cover with a 10-centimetre layer of organic material such as peat moss, small leaves (or shredded large leaves) and pine needles. Dig and mix the amendments into the bed to a depth of 25 centimetres below the original soil level, breaking up clods of clay and removing any roots and debris. Work the amendments into the soil around the root balls of the permanent shrubs in the bed. (Additional nutrients will be added when plants are set back into the bed.)

Room for improvement
(amending the soil)
With the bed's contours redefined, drainage, soil texture and nutrition can all be significantly improved. Add coarse builder's sand and organic materials to improve drainage, bring oxygen to the root zone and increase fertility. Spread five centimetres of the sand over the soil, then cover with a 10-centimetre layer of organic material such as peat moss, small leaves (or shredded large leaves) and pine needles. Dig and mix the amendments into the bed to a depth of 25 centimetres below the original soil level, breaking up clods of clay and removing any roots and debris. Work the amendments into the soil around the root balls of the permanent shrubs in the bed. (Additional nutrients will be added when plants are set back into the bed.)

 

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