SOS! Garden design dilemma

My blog post today is a plea for help, advice and ideas. 

A month ago I decided to turn some of the balding patch of grass, which used to be my lawn, into a vegetable plot.

A few of my vegetable pots in May 2010

There were two reasons behind this. One was that last year I ventured into growing my own vegetables and salad crops in pots of varying shapes and sizes on my patio.  Buoyed up with success, I am going beyond the appotment idea, into growing vegetables in the garden.

 The second is to call the patch of balding grass a ‘lawn’ had become a misnomer.  This was mainly because of fox damage but I didn’t help matters by walking on it both through the snow and afterwards when it was wet and horrid.

 A narrow band of fertile soil runs between Brighton and Chichester which years ago gave rise  a thriving  market garden area.  You would think, therefore, that the soil in my garden would be fertile and workable.  This, sadly, is not the case, my soil is heavy clay and there is a pan about a foot down.   I managed to get halfway through double-digging and threw in the towel.  Raised Beds!  That was going to be the answer to my problem.

With my trusty helper “M”  we returned from the garden centre yesterday with a ready-made wood raised bed and bags of compost and organic manure.   I am not sure the suspension in the car was too happy.   The raised bed went into place, and the following photos show the progress.  The trade off for M’s help was to make sure his Hunters and his Rolex were in the photographs – such a name label tart!!  You won’t see him in Wilkinsons or Poundland buying seeds, but that’s another story.



In case you are wondering about the last photo.  The finished bed looked like a giant cat toilet so I have covered it for the moment.  The other little bed in the foreground is going to be for my sweet peas.  

Why am I asking for your assistance?   After all that hard work, I am not so sure I like the new raised bed.  There is something wrong.   Why don’t I feel  it fits comfortably into my garden?   It needs to blend in – at the moment it sticks out like a sore thumb.  One answer is a path, which actually will be very sensible, otherwise the rest of the lawn, will be ruined too.  So, all you lovely garden bloggers out there – please can I have suggestions as to what I need to join up the raised bed with the soft slightly untidy style of my country garden.  If there is anything else that screams at you please feel free to add a comment.  The raised bed though stays, I have dug my bed …..!!

15 thoughts on “SOS! Garden design dilemma

  1. Hello Ronnie, I think I would put some paving stones or bricks around (crazy pavers would work) which I wouldn’t necessarily “square off” as in another square shape around a square. I would fill in 6″ just outside the box with pea gravel or river stones and set the pavers into the gravel and extending the gravel out maybe another 6″ past stones. Or just mulch around the edges. I use plastic bags underneath the stones/pavers to prevent weeds. To help the box fit in, I would create a area just adjoining your pavers/gravel/stone path and fill that area in with feathery butterfly and bee attracting annuals and perennials, think petunias and dianthus. You could also tuck some low growing scented herbs, like thyme or oregano into the gravel that will give off a nice aroma when you brush by them to attend your vegetable bed. Good luck!


    1. Hi Dawn, that sounds great, thanks for the suggestions. The general advice would appear to be a low herb hedge which is certainly what I shall go for. Pavers and some form of stone or gravel is certainly worth looking at. Again, thanks for leaving a comment and good to make your acquaintance! Ronnie


  2. Hi Anna
    I thought I would have beans in the middle to give height and other veg around mixed with nasturtiums etc


  3. I agree with Anna. One there are abundant plantings in there, it will blend in fine with your cottage garden. It’s also probably a bit like a new haircut – something that sticks out to you until you get used to seeing it that way.


    1. Thank you Holley. It was a bit of a shock especially as I had pre-conceived ideas as to how great it was going to look. A spot of wood stain and then some colourful flowers or herbs around the edges and I won’t remember what I was making such a fuss about!


  4. I’m sure once you have something growing in it it will look very different! Some ornamental grasses around it could look lovely or plant some nasturtiums inside it along the border (good for keeping the bugs away from your veggie planbts too!), and the nasturtiums will tumble over the edge of the box – could look lovely.


    1. Hi Christine, thank you for your advice, it is most welcome. I think the nasturtiums are a popular winner. I will keep you all up to date with the progress.


  5. Hopeless on the design lark but I think that the bed probably leaps out at you because there is nothing planted in it yet. I am sure that once it is planted and there is green tumbling over the edges it will blend in more. I like the idea of painting it too. What are you going to plant there ?


  6. Hi Ronnie,

    Maybe it is because it hasn’t weathered yet?

    Perhaps you could paint it a greeny colour to blend it in with the grass.

    I like Carl’s ground cover idea. Or maybe you could weave a small willow fence around it?


  7. I think you’ll be surprised when it’s planted up, it won’t look so out of place. You could buy some bare rooted buxus hedging. It is still not too late to plant this. Cut a small border all the way around and contain the bed within a small box hedge that will hide the wood and make it a feature rather than it standing out. Or you could just plant a buxus on each corner; cones, balls or just something more free form. The buxus is evergreen so will have the benefit of looking good in winter when the bed is empty.


    1. Some great ideas coming my way. Thank you Steve for the box hedge suggestion and the photo sent via Twitter. I will be itching to get out there before next weekend. Suspect I will be there in the twilight after days work! R


  8. Hi Ronnie

    I agree, looks a bit like arrived from outer space.

    How about taking some more grass from the outside and planting low ground cover to soften the edge. Something like creeping/furry thyme would be useful for salads. Will also save you some effort keeping grass down close to edge. And means that the weed seeds are not as close too. Or some dianthus or a mix of the two.

    I’m no garden designed either – but hope that helps.

    Carl x


    1. Low ground cover – that’s a great idea. The position of the bed looked find when it was at ground level but now, as you said it does look like an arrival from outer space!! It needs the edges soften, maybe then a coat of wood stain. Thanks for the suggestion.
      Mucho appreciated Ronnie


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