At this time of year (Spring as I write) I get called to do a lot of garden tidy ups. Usually borders are festooned with last autumns leaves and the weed growth is already prolific.
Many of my clients are not as mobile as once they were and although a lot of them are keen gardeners, getting down on their hands and knees and getting rid of weeds, leaves and debris is quite a chore. Even for somebody who does this work for a living, like myself, a full day or two of sorting out garden borders, flower beds and other areas, can be hard graft.
What I do like to do when tending to garden borders, is to take a look at whether the general shape can be improved, whilst going about the tidy up. This time of year is great for reshaping or enlarging borders because we’re now well into the growing season, which makes it a perfect time to add some new plants.
If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you’ll already know that I’m not a huge fan of straight borders. Most gardens are rectangular in shape, so if you simply create a rectangle, inside a rectangle, it can look pretty flat.
If you take a look at the image below, you’ll find of get an understanding of what I mean. In principle, this border is very tidy and has a good mixture of plants but it’s not doing itself any justice. For all of the hard work that has gone into creating and maintaining it, it lacks a bit of wow factor. It also draws your attention to the fence, which is actually the last thing you want to do.
In this 2nd picture below, you can see that the curved edges of the border, suddenly remove the rectangle shape from the garden completely. Unlike with a straight border, your eyes are no longer drawn to the fence. And because the grass is no longer a rectangle lawn, the focal point becomes the pergola and all of the beautiful plants around it.
Creating curved borders isn’t too difficult. It simply takes a bit of imagination and a simple edging tool. The edging tool is a half moon shaped blade, which allows you to mark out the shape of your new border with ease. You simply push the tool into the ground with your foot, rock it from side to side to get your line and then either simply rock it backwards and forwards to create a thicker, easier to follow line, or even lift out the turf with it there and then to get a definitive trench.
I prefer to use the tool just to create the actual shape initially. If you rock the tool backward and forwards enough, even when you stand back at a small distance, you will clearly see your new border lines. Then once you are 100% happy, you can dig out the edge properly.
Also don’t think you have to do the entire length of the border in one go. If you come up to a natural object like a tree or large shrub, you can edge up to that point, dig out the border and then repeat the exercise on the next section.
Once you have created your new curved shape border, you then have the option of actually adding a physical edge. This could be in the form of flexible plastic edging, bricks, wooden log rolls, pretty much anything you like. Or, just leave it natural. Providing you have created a definitive edge between the lawn and the border, you can simply leave it natural.
And remember, nothing in the garden needs to be rigid. Even if you are going to add a physical edge to your newly curved border, it doesn’t have to be rigid. Some of the best borders I’ve worked on have either been natural or have just had loose bricks, rocks or boulders around the edges. Granted, weeds will grown between any gaps but you’re never going to eradicate weed just because you use cement. Just take a look at most patios.
If you’re adding curves to an existing border, the principle is pretty much the same. However unlike a new border, your existing border will already have some plants in it. But these can work as an advantage because some of the plants will be jutting out more than others. You can use these larger plants as points for bringing the curves further out because over time, that area of the border is more likely to fill quicker than other areas.
The only other considerations you really need to think about are budget and how you’re going to fill the new space you have created. If you’re going to splash out on expensive physical edging, this may cut your plant buying budget to shreds.
So what you might want to do, is leave the border natural, put in any new plants that you would like to go in straight away and then sit back and have a good think about the edging.