Flower Bed Ideas – Making Garden Beds
Slightly-raised flower beds give a more effective display of the plants and, if cut out of grass, provide a decent clean sharp edge. So, assuming there is no need to lift the turf, this can be dug in and chopped up as the job proceeds. Add rotted manure, old pottingor compost and, as the job proceeds, turn the soil to the centre to create a trench so that after the first spadeful or two you are digging round and round.
Turn the soil slightly forward each time, gradually increasing the width and depth of the trench. Don’t be at all worried if you finish up at the edge with a trench nearly the depth of your spade, this is as it should be.
Depending on the time of year, the flower bed design can be left rough to break down of its own accord or, if required for immediate use, the soil can be broken up and trodden thoroughly. If it is to be used for summer and spring bedding, lightly dust with hydrated lime before raking. The extra deep trench at the edge of the bed will allow you to rake down any debris, stones, clods of soil or roots which can then be easily collected. Leave an edging about 3 to 4 in deep. To ‘true’ up the flower bed edging use a half-moon edging iron and then, to neaten off the job, turn the rake with the head downwards and go around with the back of the rake to the turf edge gently tamping down. Thereafter, when digging a circular flower bed, always start at the centre.
When it comes to planting out, the procedure is somewhat changed. For circular and oval flower beds you start planting at the edge; in other words you put your border in first. For example, supposing you are planting up a circular flower bed with lobelia and antirrhinums. Get your bedding plants on to the flower bed. (Never mind about trampling it down, this will do more good than harm provided soil conditions are right. Most flower beds are left far too puffy with the result that the plants suffer as the soil settles.) Then decide on the distance to allow between plants and rows and mark out the positions of the first two rows using your trowel or measuring rod following the curve of the bed.
After these have been planted it will be found that it is no longer possible to stagger the plants; that is putting one plant opposite each gap formed between the plants in the row in front. After the two outer circles have been planted all the other plants are just put in equidistant from one another with no attempt at making a circle or any other figure. Depending on the occupants of the bed, a ‘dot’ (taller-growing plant) is selected for the centre. Plant circular, oval and triangular beds this way and after planting, run over the whole surface with a small Dutch hoe.
Shaping and Making Garden Beds
One of the most indispensible tools in the garden is a 6 ft lathe marked off in feet and sub-divided into six inches, with six separate inches marked at one end. A useful lathe would measure 1-1/2 in wide and ¾ in thick which is substantial enough to stand an occasional wheeling over by the barrow.
Making Rectangular Flower Beds
When initially making a new square or rectangular bed then the sides and the corners must be exact right angles and here a little mathematical formula comes in handy.
Starting off from the base A and putting in a peg, measure along 3 ft and put in another peg. From point A again measure as near as you can judge to point C a distance of 4 ft. Then, putting down your lathe from point B across to point C, measure 5 ft. If A—C does not just coincide adjust it and your line so that it meets at a point D. The formula is 3, 4, 5 : from A to B is 3 ft, from A to D 4 ft and from B to D 5 ft.
With this little formula you can true up or make any rectangular flower bed design by using your lathe and a piece of string or a garden line.
See left of image below for details.
Making Oval Garden Beds
Guessing how to draw out an oval bed is not easy, but here again with three pegs and a piece of string you can easily make a bed to the desired shape and size. Having decided on the size and shape of the ellipse, put in pegs at A and B and loop a piece of string or garden line over the two pegs tying the ends together. The tightness or slackness of this loop will decide on the type of elliptical bed that you make. The pegs A and B are fixed. Withdraw C from the ground and walk with this keeping the string taut.
By doing this you will scribe an elliptical bed. The distance from the straight line A—B to C will be half the width of the bed and this is where you make the adjustment to suit the shape of the flower bed. The greater the distance the more tubby will be the bed and the smaller the distance from the line A—B to C will give you a much narrower flower bed design.
See image below: