Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Creating Space for a Garden: the Cutting Garden

Like many suburban gardeners, one of the hardest things to do is find space for all of the plants that you want to cultivate. One solution is to create gardens in the under-utilized parts of your property.

Like many suburban tracts, each home in my neighborhood has about thirty feet of space between each house. When we moved in, the fifteen feet on our side of the property line included a very large rhododendron, some unattractive evergreen trees, some grass, and a lot of weeds. The only thing we did on this strip of property was occasionally walk from the front yard to the back yard.

After a couple of years, we decided to remove the existing trees and plants and transform the space into a cutting garden. This space measures approximately fifteen feet wide and thirty feet long. We created a garden room by installing a wooden picket fence with an attractive arbor and gate in the front (visible in the first picture from inside the garden) and a simple gate in the back. Because the side yard was also on a slope, we installed a short, one-foot dry laid wall in the back to decrease the grade.

There are three foot beds on either side and a central four foot bed (visible in the second picture). The paths are too narrow at only two feet, but with only fifteen feet to work with, we had to make compromises. The soil was dead, so we dug down about two feet and also created shallow raised beds with ipe wood. Ipe is expensive, but it is far better for your garden than the toxic chemicals in pressure treated wood. Warning: ipe is very hard, which makes it rot and insect resistant, but it also makes it extremely difficult to cut with standard woodworking tools. I had to have my planks cut at the lumber yard.

After digging out the beds and creating the walls of the raised beds, we then added significant amounts of composted cow manure and Bumper Crop. These are now some of the richest beds on our property.

This is now one of the favorite parts of our property. In addition to changing this from unused and unattractive to a place we visit every day, it also produces abundant cut flowers for indoor enjoyment from May through October.

Related Post: Making the Most of Your Space for Gardening - A Map of My Gardens

3 comments:

Nan Ondra said...

I can certainly believe that this is one of your favorite garden spaces! The picket fence is a perfect complement to the theme and makes a great backdrop for the plants, too.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I can see why you visit this garden every day. Wow..it is great.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

What a great use of an area that is usually an afterthought. The fence & arbor are charming!

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