Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pitching In on Mother's Day ~~ How to Create Natural Edging

Once the ground dries up a bit, it's crunch time in the garden.  Spring garden preparation. A lotta work early in the season pays off with interest later in the year.  Cooler bugless weather and bright spring sunshine makes for optimal outdoor work conditions.  Every Mother's Day the family "pitches" in to get the garden in shape for the season.

Months of rain and heavy snows cause the top layer of soil to compact in the garden, making it difficult for moisture and organic matter to reach the roots of growing vegetation.  Gotta loosen it up so these lovelies have room to expand and grow. 

The best tool for the job is the pitchfork, but a pointed shovel will do.  Throughout the garden, and around the base of plants insert the pitchfork at an angle and "pop" the soil up a few inches, leaving cracks in the surface.  These openings are gateways for rainwater and decaying matter to find their way to the root of plants.  Otherwise moisture will run off the surface.  Increasing the absorption of fluids and compost improves soil and ultimately the health of a plant. 

It's also great exercise for the calf muscles, just be sure to switch legs once in awhile!

Once the garden is fully "popped,"  the next step is to edge.  It's far simpler to edge the yard early while the ground is soft rather than chipping away at hard dry soil in mid summer.  A crisp yet graceful edge frames the garden and draws the eye along each bed. 

Botanical edges are used primarily in England.  Rarely do the British use rubber edging.  Botanical "cuts" are cheaper, cleaner and faster.  Their only disadvantage is they need to be recut or sharpened each year. 

Use a  (dry) garden hose to define a new cut pattern.  Fidget around with it until the look is right.  Stand back and view from all angles, but concentrate most on the angle from which you will view that particular plot most often.

One plot behind my garage is outlined in a progressive wavy pattern that draws the eye to the rear of the yard.  I most often look at this garden upon pulling in the car or stepping out the back door.  I often pause to take in the gentle, progressive turns backlit by the setting sun.  Those pauses can be like taking a deep mental breath.

Good Karma. 

Using a sharp flat shovel and a wheel barrow, cut at a sharp angle downward right at the grassy edge and lift out a pie shape of soil, dumping it into the barrow.  Tossing it into the bed will only cause grass to proliferate. The angled trench must be at least eight inches deep and six inches wide to prevent grass from sending its invasive little roots into that healthy soil.  Think moat around a castle.

When the job is done, the bed looks fresh and ready to rock.

Happy Mother's Day!
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