Garden Series 2/4
In my last post, Garden Series: Plans and Dreams we offically started my garden series where I hope to cover any questions regarding the plans we have for our garden area (which includes the chicken coop)!
I plan to cover majority of topics (size, layout, logistics, design details, maintenance) throughout a series of 4 posts:
So make sure to check back in if you are having questions regarding our garden space, and if you have any other questions/topics you would like me to cover, please send me a message over on my Instagram: @theroostingplace.
Here we are going to talk about methods and materials we use in our garden area for ground cover, and some of the reasoning behind our choices. Originally, we were going to wait and choose a rock material after the fence was up, but realized that we were going to need approx. 10 cubic yards to cover the area of the garden, and therefore would need a delivery truck. And so began my shoveling journey.
When it comes to our in ground garden beds, I till (using this amazing tiller attachment for our weedwhacker) the area, plant my plants using a good splash of Root Stimulator, then use cardboard boxes (usually pulled from the recycle bin) as my “weed barrier”. This is a much more natural way of blocking the weeds, allows moisture to soak in, as well as retains moisture during watering, and will decompose nicely over time, adding nutrients to the soil below.
I have had very little weeds come through in my existing garden beds, and really only notice weeds where there are breaks or rips in the layout of the boxes (with any weedbarrier, a good overlapping method is best to block weeds)! As a general rule of thumb though, if you spend about 10 minutes/ day out in your garden checking and pulling weeds, there is very little “mass” maintenance needed!
One of the most important addition to your garden beds is MULCH. Mulch is a material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. Mulch can be dyed or left natural for decorative effects, but mulch is so much more than just a pretty face. Benefits of mulch include, but are not limited to:
- Reduces weed growth by keeping light from reaching the soil surface.
- Reduces water loss from the soil surface, which helps maintain soil moisture.
- Moderates soil temperatures, keeping it warmer on cold nights and cooler on hot days.
- Protects bare soil, reducing erosion and soil compaction.
- Protects plants from the harsh conditions of winter freezes, thaws, and winds.
We currently use natural, untreated mulch in our beds as well as the chicken run, but I am considering buying black mulch (beds only) to give a pop of contrast. No matter what color you choose, be sure to add mulch, and refresh/replace the mulch as needed to avoid any disease.
Several months ago, I saw this add on Facebook selling pallets of leftover brick pavers for $25/pallet, so we jumped on it and these pallets have been sitting in our yard ever since, just waiting to be used. Pavers are great choice for edging. I love the way they flow naturally with the rock ground cover we chose, and to me they add in another element of nature.
Here are some pavers similar to the ones we use:
When it came to the vision for this space, I always envisioned covering the entire area with some form of gravel/rock material. The benefits of doing this include:
- Less/ viturally no weeding
- No mowing/weedeating to keep it manicured
- Barefoot friendly
- Deters animals from using this space as a bathroom
- Creates a beautiful, cohesive look
We ordered 10 cubic yards of crushed limestone, which will cover the entire area with about 3″ of depth.
Why crushed limestone and not pea gravel?
I’m so glad that you asked. When we visited our local stone yard, I was under the impression that pea gravel was the obvious choice, however, after discussing with the rock-man the intention for the stone, I was then shown this beautiful crushed limestone as an alternative to pea gravel. The reasoning? It packs down much better, making it the better option for footpaths and rolling cart wheels over! I can still comfortably walk on this rock barefoot, and I especially love how it changes color when wet!
- Weed Killer or Till the Area
- Weed Barrier (I used a combo of Landscaping Fabric and Tar Paper)
- Landscaping Pins
- LOTS OF ROCK
Because this area is massive, and because it is mosly dedicated to walking paths, I was not about to use the tiller to get rid of the existing grass and weeds. Instead, I used Round Up to kill the existing ground cover. I sprayed it all thouroughly, and went over the tough areas twice before rolling out my weed barrier.
- drains well
- Safe for planting
- Rips easily
- Weeds can poke through over time
- “Heavy duty”
- Less ripping
- Cost effective
- Takes longer to drain
- Can be harmful to plants
I used the above pros and cons of both these materials to my advantage. I placed the tar paper on majority of the areas where I knew would only be walkways and placed landscaping fabric in areas where I forsaw the water flowing down to, or areas closer to my garden beds; by doing this method I saved a good amount of money! (Fun Fact: you can also use old roof shingles as a weed barrier in walkways!)
We used landscaping stakes to secure the barriers, then got to work. Wheeling and Shoveling and Raking, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Overall, it took me about a week and lots of wheelbarrow loads to completely spread all the gravel evenly under the Texas summer sun while Harley was working, but the end result is so worth it. This rocks tried to crush my spirit but I proved to be more resilient than I even knew, even if I did sleep for a week straight when this part was done. 😉
As another postitive out-take: I rarely have to weed any of this area, and when I do I’ve noticed it is just this one pesky species of weed that always finds a way to pop up, but they’re extremely easy to pull so this method is very managable when it comes to weed control. So if that doesn’t motivate you to try hardscaping your garden area, I don’t know what will!
Check out my last post: Garden Series: Plans and Dreams to see the inspiration behind this space, and check back next week to learn about our fence!