Decorating for your garden!

Bear with me here - trying something new...

My cousin contacted me a couple of weeks ago with a question about designing a vegetable garden. I have little background in garden design, other than weeding rows and rows of plants in my father's gardens. Regardless, I thought I'd give it a go. Here's her question:

"I have an outdoor decorating dilemma that you might be able to address on your website. I want to plant a vegetable garden this summer in our backyard. I really enjoy the fresh vegetables. We do not have a big yard, it has to look landscaped. I want it to look rustic but beautiful. I am thinking that I want a raised garden with stone and a small wrought iron fencing. But I"m not sure if that is practical. So, I need your help. Any suggestions?"

Well, I started by searching for images of raised garden beds and decorative borders. My personal style is a little more "shabby chic" gardening, but I tried my best to stay focused on a more landscaped garden.

An example of how to use an iron fence border for a rustic look - nothing too shiny and new. This iron fence looks like the one around grandma's kitchen garden. Also notice that extra garden space was created by using the decorative wheel barrow!

Stone borders are really pretty because stones are organic, but they can still create a clean structured look.

"Create soft meandering pathways instead of those that follow a straight, structured line. Many paving materials work in cottage gardens, including wood chips, stone, old bricks, and flagstone." - BHG

I especially like stone paths that have seen a few seasons - so pretty.
via BHG

via World Grace Foundation

Another example of a way to give your garden a "rustic feel," but is also still maintained.
via BHG

via Southern Living

simple wood plank sides are probably the least expensive way to create a raised bed
via House to Home

via Southern Living

via Martha Stewart

borders created with boxwood shrubs
via House to Home

I love this path!!! Simple gravel ways with sticks cut to size laid across the path. So easy to do too!
via BHG

via House to Home

via Blithewold Blog


Some helpful tips:

* Get creative with your vegetable garden design. Consider creating a series of decorative raised beds with wood-chip or gravel lined paths between. Check out photos of historic French gardens for inspiration. They're very efficient and very beautiful.

* Plant vegetables with their looks as well as flavors in mind. Alternate, for example, pretty purple cabbages with snowy white cauliflowers in a row. Or experiment with planting in blocks and clusters rather than rows for a more decorative effect.

* Many vegetables lend themselves beautifully to containers. Lettuces in various colors are gorgeous in window boxes. Patio-type tomatoes are ideal in large pots. Hot peppers ripen to rich colors that are attractive when mixed in with annual flowers such as marigolds and vinca.

* Tomatoes probably grow better in flower beds than they do in the traditional vegetable garden. That's because they should be moved to a different spot each year to prevent disease, and space is often limited in a vegetable patch. Also, tomatoes do better when isolated from other tomato plants because disease can't hop as easily from plant to plant.

* Lettuces make a great edging plant, especially those that are deep reds and purples. Plant in a row along the front of a bed or border.

* Don't let a little shade deter you from planting vegetables. Fairly shade-tolerant veggies include beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, leaf lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, and beans.

* Seek out vegetables in bold colors to interplant among the flowers. Swiss chard, for example, is available in a rainbow of colors. Or try brilliant yellow sweet peppers.

* Pole beans have attractive heart-shaped leaves that are fairly decorative. They're good for planting on arbors, along fences, or on any trellis.

* Some mustards and kales have gorgeous fall color and are ideal for tucking into containers and borders for color late in the year. Try Osaka Purple mustard greens or one of the red or purple kales.

via BHG

Q: I don’t have any gardening beds prepared. Are raised beds the quickest way to make them?

A: Yes, even if you have a site that’s currently covered by lawn, you can build a raised bed right on top of the sod and be ready to plant in as little as a weekend. To do this, mark off the site and cover the grass with a thick layer of overlapped newspapers or corrugated cardboard. (Weight down the paper or cardboard with shovels full of topsoil as you spread it or soak it with the hose; otherwise the wind will blow it away.) Then frame the site with landscape ties or 26s/38140 mm, laying the sides over the edge of the paper or cardboard to discourage grass from growing up into the garden. Use stakes to hold the frame in place. Fill the garden with a mix of purchased topsoil and compost. Mound the soil mix several inches above the outer frame, then water it thoroughly to help it settle. Let the soil dry for a day or so before planting.

-go to kitchen gardeners for the whole article
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