Making a garden bed in St. Louis requires one to dig in hard, dense, clay soil. Not really my idea of a good time, if you know what I mean. (And if you have clay soil you know what I’m talking about.) In fact, the idea of digging up the lawn on a large space running the length of the patio, left me less than motivated. As I have shared, when I began my adventure in backyard gardening, I was not one to really enjoy getting dirt beneath my nails, much less the back pain associated with lots of digging. I wanted quick gratification so I could enjoy my chardonnay while basking at the delights of my hard work.
I know, I know, as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. I am learning.
But I did look for a shortcut … in the form of landscape fabric. I simply covered the space in the stuff, cut into the areas where I placed my foundation plants, amended the soil where plants were put in and covered the whole thing with lots of mulch.
I am not sure I would take that shortcut again. Yes, the garden bed is doing beautifully, but I am weighing my options as I consider installing more gardens into the yard.
The pros: I have had very few weeds; it was easy to install; it saved my back the aches and pains of all that digging; I avoided using chemical application to kill the grass, which I was contemplating. And, the bed is doing beautifully. Each year I add to it with the vision of a cottage garden spilling forth with flowering plants and shrubs. I hand weed, mulch and this spring amended the soil with a bit of compost.
The cons: I don’t think I have done my soiI any great favors (should have probably put a hefty layer of compost down along the whole bed–rookie mistake peppered with a healthy dose of inpatience); every time I add to the bed, I am having to cut into the fabric and then dig into the hard, hard clay; my senses are awakening to the concept of “sustainability” and I am not sure these types of fabrics are a good idea. Also, I wonder if the fabric will inhibit growth of the plant. Does anyone have any knowledge of that?
I will be getting out the ibuprofen as I plan to start on a bed along one of the fence lines this spring and will avoid some of the shortcuts I took. What’s your take on landscape fabric? Any advice on starting a garden bed from scratch?