Converting gravel pad to garden

Community Community No dig gardening Preparing the ground Converting gravel pad to garden

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Cleansweep 4 years, 11 months ago.

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    Hello! I am new to the forum, what a wonderful community and resource.

    I am converting an old gravel pad picnic area to garden and looking for a wee bit of advice.
    Approx size 14ft N/S x 22ft E/W, with a nearly unnoticeable slope E/W
    Fence along north, house in east, trees to the south, trees, fence and shed to the west, grass lawn that I can eek more growing space out of 🙂
    Lower Mainland, BC, Canada, zone 8a

    The gravel, builders sand and landscape fabric have been removed along with bigger stones.
    This leaves the area sunken below the grass line, so at the subsoil level. Hmmm…now i wonder:

    -Should I be trying to “fill” the space with something to lift to original ground level before creating 4-6″ deep no-sides beds with my compost, or can i just build my beds and paths and end up not too far above the remaining lawn?

    -I am renting and sharing costs for this initial stage with other tenants and landlord. In this situation, would a reasonable bed depth be more to the 4 or the 6″? I don’t want to skimp on the first season, but an inch saved here can be used to help other areas of this neglected yard that i have taken on.

    – Orientation/space optimization…Along the north fence, I extended an old bed to run full length of yard, about 2 1/2’wide or so, for some taller veg/herbs. There will be a narrow path between this and the old gravel area, leaving about 11′ 22 plus wiggle room to play with. At first I was thinking for space and speediness, just run 2 long n beds E/W 3-4′ wide, with a path in between and good edges at the grass and get growing! Can always reshape or reorient in the spring since beds have no sides. Now that i am actually in the space I wonder if I am bonkers and bass-akwards and would be better off running multiple beds N/S with more little pathways. Access isn’t an issue for pathways, will work either way. This area is primarily for veg and herbs, a mix of taller/shorter and quicker/longer crops, and I favour block/patch planting style to single row when possible. Does anyone have experience where they ran beds one way then decided to run the other? Or, does anyone have a suggestion of what they might try first in this spot?

    Thank you for any feedback. Am so excited to finally have a plot to play with using Charles’ techniques. Happy harvesting and fall planting!



    Welcome to the forum
    You may receive differing advice but I would be content to place the compost as the next action. You will be above the path, and over time you probably will build topsoil, nature supposedly takes a thousand years for 1″ but my beds are distinctly higher after 5 seasons, such that I have raised the paths to support them.
    Orientation is a controversy, some support both/either options. Personally,I try to plant so that shade is not created where unwanted, but have planted fruit bushes to create shelter from prevailing wind. You might plant as squares not rows to confound the purists.
    Regarding bed size, my rows suit me as 2metre, I am tall and can reach in at least half way.
    My beds are around 4metre, I plant leaving ‘stepping stone’ areas so as to gain occasional access through the middle without actually having a path.
    Good luck with your growing, we love to receive updates, before and after photos and detail from the wider world.

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