Being led up the garden path

01:03, Feb 15 2013

Over the last 20 months or so, I have been building raised beds for my vege plots. The first two were built where a gigantic conference of agapanthus was taking place, and the last two have been new additions in the last year, built straight onto the lawn. I like the way they look; practical and cute and productive.

But the path ways around them have been looking pretty rough. I'm just making the finishing touches to them, laying down mulch and pine needle paths, and adding plants to soften the edges and make them look like something out of this book. Because the first two were built on bare agapanthus-ridden soil and the last two on lawn, we decided to make paths around them rather than sow grass. To do this I used a rather simple method I call the Smother Technique. It's similar to what you would do building a no-dig raised bed.

First, we put down old carpet on the grass and any areas where there were weeds as you can see in the very first picture. This smothered the plants that need light to grow, things like creeping buttercup and convulvulus will usually live on despite having hge lights turned off. Leave this carpet on for a good month or two, the longer the better. 

 

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When you pull off the carpet, you'll be greeted with lots of worms, some white strangly roots of plants trying to find the light, and bare soil. Lightly dig up as many of the straggly roots as you can.

Then, take a whole bunch of newspaper or plain cardboard. Lay down thick layers of this overlapping in the area, right up to the edges of your bed. I wet it with the hose purely to stop it blowing away beause inevitably, it's windy when I'm gardening.

 

 

 

 

Next, layer on your mulch. I used tree shreddings from our spring time pruning, and pine needles because Sister Loyola of the Home of Compassion says it cuts down on slugs and snails. Pine needles are also a little softer to walk on, and are free - I scoop them up from roadsides.Pine needles also have the benefit of being alleopathic meaning they will suppress weed seedlings. Still, I need to be vigilant that creeping buttercup and convulvus don't poke their  persistent heads around the edges of the newspaper and mulch layer, making a green fringe around my perfect paths. I'll also need to regularly top up the mulch as it breaks down.

What do you use as paths around your garden beds?

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