Building a Rose Garden – Part 1

As you know, I have been working in the front garden bed, clearing away old plants and weeds for my new rose garden. I have already received three of my new roses, which I have potted up in anticipation of planting weather. Even as I write this, they are lounging on the back deck, getting a little morning sun.

While our home faces west, our yard entire yard slopes slightly to the south. This means that rain tends runoff towards the south side of the house. I decided to measure the amount of drop between the north end of my rose bed (left, as you face the house) and the south end (right). I found that the yard/bed did not begin to drop until somewhere around the center of the right bed (where the daffodil is in the photo below), about half way between the walkway and the edge of the house. The drop between this point and the south end of the garden bed was six inches. The drop is fairly noticeable, as you can see.

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Since I am investing quite a bit of money, time, and effort in my new garden, I decided to level the bed before doing any planting. This involves raising the south end of the bed to account for the drop of the landscape. I strung a string from the edge of the garden by the walkway, to a stake (old paint stirrer, actually) at the south edge of the garden. I adjusted the string until it was level, then used the string distance from the ground to determine the height required at various points along the bed. At the south end of the garden, the wall will need to be eight inches tall.

So, we headed to the local home improvement stores to check out their selection. We selected a smaller block, the color of faded brick with a kind of tumbled stone look to it. This block is small enough to be used as an edger along the north end of the end, but stacked in multiple courses on the south end of the bed. It took three trips to get all the bricks home in our 11-year-old Toyota Corolla, just because of the weight. You can see the stack of bricks here, near the south end of the bed.

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Since the bricks that we selected are three inches high, we will need three courses at the southernmost end of the bed. The lowest course will be submerged one inch below ground level, with only two inches exposed. With two courses on top, that will yield the eight inches required height. At the north end, the bricks will also be submerged one inch below the ground, with two inches exposed. Eight inches (south end) minus two inches (north end) equals six inches – the amount of drop in the yard from one end of the bed to the other!

First, I dug out the old bricks that currently line the bed. These are cool, funky, old bricks which I will save to be used somewhere later. It was starting to get dark so there wasn’t much more I could really do at that point. I decided to lay out the new bricks in front of where they will be placed, just to get an idea of the how it’s going to look, and to determine if we will have enough.

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Wow! Already it looks better and it’s not even installed yet. I had not one, not two, but three neighbors come out while I was working to tell me how great they thought it was going to look. (I secretly think they are just glad to see that we are trying to de-ghettofy our house.) Here is another angle at the south end of the bed.

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I feel that with a few hours more work, the new bed will be level, ready for soil, manure, and new roses. My roses will start arriving this week, so I will be dedicating next weekend to finishing the bed, and getting it all ready for planting.

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