We recently headed on down to the local Fieldays event for farmers and rural types. I’ve been meaning to go for a decade. We’re rural types and with over a 1000 exhibitors and all things country it seemed like the perfect thing for us to do. It was a lovely day out, but my head was all about the garden, and my wallet – in spite of all the great deals, was intrinsically linked to the house and at this point is a finite resource to be guarded tightly. Fortunately, my heart was blinded to all the exciting possibilities found at many points along the crowded paths and bursting stalls.
However with the garden foremost in my head, the thing that drew my eye was the wood chips on the ground to mark out trade sites and keep down the mud in the paths. I kept wondering what they would be doing with it after the show – there must have been acres of it in nice thick layers. It turns out the event centre reuses it, shame. Now for me right now, picking up a truck load or two of preloved woodchip at a bargain basement price would be the deal of the century. Alas not to be.
But it did get me thinking about my garden paths. It is still a bit early to be making a decision but not too early to start thinking about it. What would be the ideal medium for the ground between the gardens. I put a post out on Facebook and Twitter to see what others used and what they thought.
It basically came down to about four main options each with pros and cons. It was good to see what others thought, and added to my own experiences and I think I have come up with a decision. However I’m open to persuasion. So please let me know your thoughts. Here’s mine.
I love the look of well mowed lawn between the beds. It is comfortable and cooling to sit on in the summer as I tend the beds and isn’t to difficult to set up – scatter seeds and wait. The last garden has grass all around and after a mow it looked stunning.
However, the new garden is about the same size as the last one and will introduce the same problems. Due to the MS, keeping it mowed was exhausting. I tried mowing in sections so I wouldn’t get exhausted, but then I never achieved that lovely well mown look all across the place. It often left me too stuffed to actually do the pottering about. I have tried getting others to help but they often did more harm than good as a trailing cucumber vine was mulched to a pulp, a hanging pea shoot became ensnared in the passing handle and ripped ruthlessly from the earth, among other things. Non gardeners just don’t get it.
Then there are the edges the mower can’t reach. I find a weed eater is a bit unwieldy in a tight spot and I got quickly fed up with the bit of plastic snapping off the strimmer line as it repeatedly hit the sides of the beds. I don’t want to add unnecessary plastic to my garden. I’ve had help in this area too in the past, resulting in a severe haircut for my poor onions! So I found the only way was up close and personal with shears. It was good in I was in regular connection with the garden, but it was extremely time consuming.
I do love a lawn but on an energy output scale Hubby the Un-Gardener has said no for my own good.
STONES AND GRAVEL
I have written these off right from the start. I have experience here. In our very first garden when we didn’t know what we were doing, we put in a lovely white pebble garden with a few poor unfortunately plants to suffer in. We put down weed mat and then stones, but it didn’t take long before we lost control. The leaves blew in and landed among them, plants crept across from under the fence and in the end we had a lovely rich compost above the weed mat with nasty weeds thriving above with their roots piercing the pores in the mat making it next to impossible to pull up. Add to that the weight of the now invisible white stones that had sunk to the depths of the debris and clearing it all up (to make the house presentable for sale) was something I don’t care to repeat any time soon. Without the weed mat the gravel will quickly be lost in my sand and I’m not keen on weed mat at all so however lovely it looks on day one… It’s a no from me.
This would make it my dream garden. Maybe a lovely pattern and play on shapes, sizes and colours. It would be low maintenance, weed free and look fabulous. There is just one drawback. Cost. I priced it up. It would be over ten thousand dollars new! Eek. I think this will need to be a long term plan to source enough second hand ones for free or next to nothing and then one day when I have enough I could make it wonderful. Or I could learn to make pavers – but then there’d still be a cost… So that’s a no for now.
So that leaves
A lot of people use these. The common complaint seems to be the blackbirds make a mess of them and they break down quickly and need replacing often. I’m not worried about the birds – it would be contained within the outer walls of the beds. But the thing that sold me for now is the continuous break down of the chips themselves – I don’t see it so much as my paths being eroded, but my poor sandy soil that lies beneath the entire space will get a continual nutrient boost, not to mention the benefit it will bring to microbial communities in the garden. The paths will have more of a job than just covering the sand and being worked upon. They will be working just as hard as everything else.
Wood chips it is… now where to find several truck loads at a good price….
Come again soon – good things take time.
Sarah the Gardener : o)