Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Backyard Project: Shoe-design Garden Beds

The next garden room Tom is going to construct is made up of raised rock beds. I showed him a print made from the sole of my shoe and said it was the type of shape I wanted for the beds.
He said, "OK" and away he went to work.

He removed the existing rocks and dug out the soil.

He placed the large rocks to make a meandering curving raised edge.
The 2 lines of smaller rocks in the front of this image define the gravel bed garden.

Tom placed the rocks following the pattern of the shoe sole. He placed decomposing logs in the bottom of each growing area then filled the spaces with the soil mix. 

This garden bed shape is known as a key-hole design. 
It has many benefits including increasing the area available to plant, reducing the amount of real estate given to non-productive paths, increasing the amount of 'edge' where plant growth is most prolific and making ergonomically efficient areas to work in.
 The large rocks act as heat sinks which will warm the soil and extend at each end the length of the growing season. 
The beds are aligned north-to-south to capture the maximum amount of sun. They have been built in this particular spot because a sun-shade analysis of the back yard area showed this area receives up to 11 hours of sunshine each day at the height of summer. 
The raised beds mean we can work beside them while standing, saving our backs. The beds are at a maximum of 8 feet wide which means all of the growing area can be reached by my outstretched hand. There is no need to walk on the soil and compact it.

This image gives a better idea of the different levels that now cover what was a vast expanse of level lawn. Design wise, changing levels and curving lines are visually much more interesting.

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