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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Not Another Island Bed?

I have been working on a new three wall flower bed all summer. It has been a long project mainly because I wait for heavy equipment to dump the dirt over the fence for me. My two dump truck loads of dirt were dumped 5 acres back on our property and my flower beds that need dirt are in the front. That's a lot of trucking with a whell barrow. So I wait.

But I thought, after those are done, why not add another island bed in the open area in the middle that doesn't have anything but lawn? I am trying to eat up lawn, after all. Flower beds hold water longer than lawn does.

So my design phase always consists of the longest garden hose I own. I like to play with the shape for a few days before doing anything drastic. And since one of these days I am going to get the rest of my dirt dumped over the fence, now is the perfect time to build another one right near it. Yes, my husband shakes his head at me and gracefully keeps his mouth shut. I have no idea how he has such restraint.

You can see the outline of the new bed in progress behind the outline of the hose. I thought taller plantings in the middle of the island bed would tie in nicely to the taller plantings I plan for the back edge of the new bed behind it.

The white areas in this drawing signify the new flower beds I was already working on. The big green expanse of lawn in the middle is where the new island bed will go. I never did get the stone walkway done and now I am glad I did not. Plans always change in my world if I don't hurry. I am trying harder to be patient because sometimes better ideas come to me if I am forced to wait. I haven't actually taken Round up to the lawn in this new idea or the tiller or sod cutter but I am darn close. Just want to be certain first.  But now my best friend since kindergarten is coming in September so I have a time frame. And yes, my whip is out. No one slacks until this is done!


  1. That area is going to be beautiful! I am so jealous that you have access to those great rocks for edging. Those would cost a fortune here!
    How nice will it be when you can sit on a little bench in that area and enjoy the birds and scents!?

  2. Heather,
    One of these days you'll realize that you can't do it all. Even our small place neither of us can find the time during the heat of the summer to take care of all our gardens. Between the heat, humidy and biting insects it gets to be too much. Doyle must be one hell of a guy to agree to do all your projects.

    Personally in that part of the yard I'd widen the bed next to the fence and put in taller plants to hide the camper a bit more. Thus leaving a nice bit of lawn to soak up the sun a little.

  3. Heather with that new laid out island bed you are going to have some great paths and walkway possibilities.I am with Randy about at least the idea of taller flowering bushes to add height against the fence area. Then you will have your own secret garden spot.

  4. Let flowers rule, I say. Out with the lawn. :-)

  5. I like making new beds! It's always interesting to see what you can do with them. Of course I like my lawn too, I just go for a balance.

  6. Looks like you have a lot of work ahead of you, but it will be pretty when you complete it. I remember adding lots of beds and now I am thinking of removing some of them due to some back problems. Of course, I say that in the fall, but when when spring comes I love all the flowers. Thanks for sharing.

  7. And she's at it again! LOL You make me so tired but it will be beautiful. I guess I think of myself 15 to 19 years ago digging beds everywhere. Oh to have that energy back again! It's fun though isn't it Heather and it will look so great!

  8. Wait, wait, don't dump that dirt just yet! -- I have a better idea! Keep the shape, but leave the lawn INSIDE the 'island' and put the garden beds all around it. The lawn will be all in one place, thus easier and quicker to mow than in a long, winding ribbon like you are envisioning. You would be making a cool green central spot for picnics or dog/kid play. You would have less borders to edge (like half as much) to keep the lawn from creeping into the flower beds. It would be easier to water the lawn if it were in one nice central area.

    And if you didn't want to do it all at once -- that's a LOT of new garden bed space all at once -- you could just start moving in from the outside gradually. First year take a foot or two , the next year another couple, until gradually you end up with the nice island of lawn in the middle.

    That's how I did it, and I was inspired by a friend who had a truly magnificent cottage-style perennial garden. We both started with vast lawns from house to fence, and through years of incremental de-turfing, from the outside in, we both ended up with less and less useless lawn. She did have the little circle of grass in the teak bench and table. I offed the entire lawn and put in native plants and paver pathways.

  9. Well, why the heck not??!!! That's my new motto. Looks like the garden is getting bigger and bigger by the minute!

    I like your plan...however, Lil Ned sure does have a plan too...At a Horticulture symposium last year, I remember they kept talking about how "gardens are for people" and to be IN the garden. That would be my thought if I had a lot of space to work with.

    Either way, I think it's going to be grand!!!

  10. OH what fun! I love new gardening spaces!

  11. Oh yeah, I realized today that I have finally achieved my "no lawn at all" approach. I'll walk the kids to the park if they want to roll in grass. My mowing days are all over! Whatever you decide, it can always be undone some time in the future. Enjoy.

  12. Hi Heather~~ As a gardener with several island beds, I'm with Li'l Ned on this one. I think it would be a challenge to get the lawn mower around the beds. Much easier to mow a central lawn. Much easier to irrigate too. Good luck and keep us posted. And have fun with your childhood chum.

  13. Hi Heather. I'm glad I read the comments before leaving my own. I am of the same mind as Ned. As you get more involved with perennial garden beds, you will see that not only do the plants spread and sprawl, but the edging has a tendency to creep forward too. Admittedly some of that is gardener-reach into new space....I can easily envision 2 deep borders in the above photograph. First, the building could visually-support tall bushes beautifully. Also, the fence border could be doubly-deep, something that you might want to consider because you could use that area as a screen from the parked RV with high bushes in that region. Where there are bushes, there can be understory plantings in front. I have done this in some of my gardens and love having the addition of the height. I have Vibernums, an Alberti Spruce, 2 Lilacs, roses, Ilex, Yew, a Barberry bush, and 6 trees all incorporated into my perennial beds. (I have large beds....they have all grown in time.) Having the variety gives some life to all seasons but the dead of wintertime. And with the variety of plants, I get the privacy screens, even nice here in the country. What I made were "rooms". Eventually....

    Look at the "island" as a grassy area instead of a planting island, then do a quick measurement of the total border perimeter. You will see that there will be much more edging to be trimmed if you use the island as a planting island. And having such a thin-slice to walk around the island may be difficult in 4-5 years when plants mature. Would you be able to swing a wheelbarrow or wagon around the island for heavy-maintenance?

    Good for you on the dirt-hauling. I have done the 2 19-ton topsoil loads, too. Like you, with a wheelbarrow and my trusty shovel. And sweat.

    We now have a Bobcat with a scoop. LOL

  14. It looks like you've done a lot of thinking, studying, and designing on paper! I'm excited to see the outcome. Knowing you for the little time I have, it will end up looking picture perfect! Sometimes it's great having a deadline (like a friend or family coming over). That's what helps me keep my house clean or I'd always be puttering in the garden and let the house go.

  15. Hi Heather,
    Love the shape of your new bed. I've got a similar project going on myself.
    Can't wait to see your finished project!

  16. Why not? Because it'd way too hot and humid to think about work.

  17. I'm not surprised you are up to something like this. Green blood runs in your veins and you can't help it.


Thank you for your ideas, suggestions or greetings. I love to hear from you and read them all.

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We started this blog in Feb. of 2009 to help us stay motivated and to track our progess in the garden. We live on 5 acres surrounded by Idaho farmland. We have wildlife galore and are attempting to attract more in the bird catagory. This is our journal. Welcome!


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