Size Matters with Garden Beds

Whatever the type of garden, the hardest thing to get right is the basic structure and space allowance. It is something that frightens most gardeners—casting worries that a plant will get too big or interfere with the foundation of the house. Use these 5 tips for creating beds that have adequate space for your plants to grow.

1. When planning planting areas, avoid borders that run parallel to the fence line around the edge of the garden.

2. Most people make their borders too narrow. The minimum depth for a border is 3 feet; 6 feet is barely adequate; 10 feet is better.

3. Go out and measure the spread of an average, mature shrub—for example, Choisya or Ceanothus. The rule with borders is fewer, but deeper.

4. To see what your garden will look like, lay a hose down on the ground to mark the edge of the proposed bed. Be bold: envision the area full of plants.

5. If you start off with straight, narrow borders, barely wider than the plants you put into them, in no time you will be out there with a spade making them wider so as to allow the mower to pass without damaging the growing plants. Worse still, you will be bringing the pruners into action, trimming those new shrubs into neat but ugly shapes.

Adapted from Horticulture Gardener’s Guide: Shrubs by Andrew Mcindoe. Learn more about this book.

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