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Raised Flower Beds

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Topic by uMinded posted 05-02-2013 04:04 AM 3585 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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uMinded

11 posts in 1754 days

05-02-2013 04:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question planter flower bed

We have neighbors without lawns so every time it rains our loose soil washed away past the fence and we are left with a hard cracked clay in no time.

To solve this I proposed turning the entire flower bed (which is the perimeter of the back yard ~80 feet) into a giant planter. I would dig out all the soil until I hit the clay that our lot is built on and use landscaping logs front and back to create a total soil depth of ~18 inches. I would put 2 inches of gravel for drainage and line it with landscaping fabric then put in my soil and peet moss.

We plan on having mostly shrubs and grasses in the raised bed, things like: Ribbon grass, Cherry bushes, Snap dragons, Tulips, Pansies, and a small Lilac. (We are in zones 1-2 and still have snow)

Do you think that setting the raised beds up like a massive planter is a good idea? This is our second year gardening so we would like to know before spending hundreds of dollars on these raised beds…



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Radicalfarmergal

4312 posts in 3136 days
hardiness zone 5b

05-02-2013 05:48 AM

The nice thing about raised beds is that you can bring in good soil and start a garden right away. Your idea or a perimeter raised garden would probably work to stop the erosion caused by the runoff from your neighbors’ yards. Before you spend hundreds of dollars and invest in the raised bed idea; however, think if there is a better way to capture and use the water running onto your property. Is there enough water to make a water feature (pond and/or swales) or perhaps a rain garden that will hold the water until it can be absorbed into the ground? Raised beds dry out faster than gardens at soil level, so think about the resources you already have and how you can use them. I don’t know where you live, or if access to water is even an issue for you (We have hot, dry summers where having extra water available is a definite benefit.), but your neighbors are providing you with a resource that you can keep and use. When I garden, I try to think about the unique characteristics of my land and try to find a solution that will capture and hold resources, just like nature does when left to itself.

Good luck.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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uMinded

11 posts in 1754 days

05-02-2013 06:09 AM

Hi, thanks for replying.

Our water problem is the other way around. The neighbourhood was built on solid clay so when the previous owners put up the fence and grass they first brought in fresh topsoil then sod. So our neighbours lots are actually 6” lower than ours and when it rains the soil runs out of the beds and through the fence onto their property then grows weeds rampantly.

We live in Saskatchewan, This week marks 6 months on the calender with snow on the ground and we expect flooding from runoff and 30+ deg C summer drought. I currently have rain barrels on my eavestrough so offset my water usage and would put in a underground soaker system in the raised bed if we do it.

To counteract evaporation and try to control some runoff we have a thick layer of wood chips over all exposed soil.

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Radicalfarmergal

4312 posts in 3136 days
hardiness zone 5b

05-03-2013 04:17 AM

Sorry for the confusion. I thought all the water was running into your yard. Raised planters can act like an earth dam and stop the water from flowing from your property; landscaping fabric and landscaping timbers should hold the soil inside the raised beds unless the slope is too great. Will you have to worry about frost heaves lifting the landscaping timbers over time? Is your land flat but higher than your neighbors’ land, gently rising or steeply slopped? If it is sloped and you build the raised beds around the entire back perimeter, you might end up with drainage puddles in front of the raised bed in places you don’t want. Figuring out the water flow will help you know how your raised bed solution will work.

I hope your project works and you can end the frustrating and destructive erosion.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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uMinded

11 posts in 1754 days

05-03-2013 07:14 AM

Hmm I never thought about how the raised beds would trap the water inside the yard… We changed the grading last year so everything slopes away from the house so now our sump runs ones a week while our neighbours run ever hour every day so I know their is a large volume of water being redirected yet I do not see any visual dampness anywhere in the lawn.

I think I am going to get a few long deck boards and block in where I would be doing the raised beds and leave them for a week as if pooling is a problem I don’t want to spend $500 and then take it all apart!

What is your opinion on making them like a planter (2” of gravel and lined with landscaping fabric)? Their will be a foot of soil and I don’t want it to slowly turn into clay.

Thanks for the help!

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Cindy

346 posts in 2584 days
hardiness zone 6

05-05-2013 08:03 PM

I can vouch for how well long raised beds work, however my situation is slightly different than yours. I live in a mobile home park and the man that owns it initially scraped this small mountain/giant hill so it had three flat levels. I’m on the top one. By scraping the land level, he took all the original soil off and took it down to white clay. Then he came back in and topped the leveled clay with more soil (if you can call it that – mostly he brought in a mammoth ant farm). My lot is slightly scooped because the fence ridge in the back yard was placed higher than the rest of my yard. So I was getting a very large puddle when it rained. Large as in approx. 20’ x 50’. I would dig to plant a garden bed and hit the white clay after only digging 6”, and when it rained the yard would be under 5” of water. I ended up making raised beds that surround my home out of cinder blocks topped with flat concrete caps to sit on. On one side (the side that my pics are of) the bed is approx 80’ long and 16’ wide – it does vary in places. Past that I have a bed that’s 18’ square, and it isn’t enclosed like the rest. That allows any water runoff to escape rather than get trapped in my patio. The patio looks sunken, but it’s actually the original yard level. The first part of the raised bed was lined in plastic mulch cover. I’m still digging that up in places. I find that under it, I still have white clay. But in the areas where I never put it down the clay has absorbed/integrated with all the good stuff I made my beds out of – it’s quite nice and the good usable soil is much deeper because of it. So I think the gravel is good for drainage, but if the landscaping fabric is for the base, I wouldn’t do it. If the fabric is to line the sides that would work.

I don’t know how much you can tell from my pics, but one shows the cinder blocks and their caps, and one is a long shot looking down the original bed towards the fence I spoke of (that’s the 80’ stretch with a 18’ bed past it that you can’t see). I started these beds over 15 years ago and I love raised beds now – I wouldn’t have anything else over clay!

Still a work in progress, the patio isn’t really sunken, it’s just that all around it has been built up;

It sounds like raised beds might be very helpful in retaining your soil from running off into the neighbor’s yards – it’s worked for me.

-- ~ Cindy, Virginia Appalachians, UDSA Hardiness Zone 6 ~

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uMinded

11 posts in 1754 days

05-05-2013 09:20 PM

Thanks for the info Cindy, you have a wonderful yard and I love the tree (Cherry I assume?)

We have investigated drainage and have some options, In the pic you can see their where originaly red bricks up against the fence but in two years they have sunk and their is now a 5” gap above them to the bottom of the fence. Its hard to see but the lawn is the same height as the bottom of the fence and from the bottom of the bricks to the lawn is aver 11 inches.

So we are going to raise the beds a little higher so that the 2” of gravel inside the bed is at the height of the lawn. We will also put 1/8” gaps in the first layer of logs that are half buried to assist in drainage. In the places where everything gets good sun and stays dry we are going to till the existing soil and the bed so we can plant some deeper rooting shrubs. In the one section that is the worst we came up with the idea of running an 1-1/2” PVC pipe with holes drilled into it, covered with gravel and wrapped in fabric (tiny weeping tile essentially) and I will connect my sump outlet so my sump will drain into the back alley and any extra water will easily drain to. Two birds with one stone!

The next few weeks are going to be crazy busy so maybe I will post some pictures first week of June.

Thanks for the help everyone!

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Cindy

346 posts in 2584 days
hardiness zone 6

05-06-2013 07:25 PM

Sounds like a big but rewarding project – looking forward to the pics! Be sure to take before, during, and after pics (I love photos – lol).

oh, and the tree is a crabapple – thanks!

-- ~ Cindy, Virginia Appalachians, UDSA Hardiness Zone 6 ~

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