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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/30/2022, 12:01 am

So, I've now got my raised bed kit, and will be installing it as soon as I can get my MM together (in the next couple of weeks I hope).  The plan is to put down cardboard, wet it, and put the boxes on top.  So I'm thinking about what I'm going to put down around the perimeter of the box.  (In future years there'll be two boxes, 3 or 4 feet apart, but this first southern summer it's just going to be one.)

The box(es) are going to be in the middle of my lawn, and I don't want my lawnmower man to hate me!  Whatever I use has to work on top of our horrible yellow clay.  In summer I live in bare feet, so the perimeter material needs to be walkable.  And I'm already spending enough setting up, so I'd rather it was fairly cheap.  Oh, and I have a marginal back and I'm not very handy.

I was thinking of artificial grass having seen some outside someone's glasshouse this year, but now I'm reading that you don't simply throw it out on the lawn and pin it down!  Especially above clay.  So there goes that idea.

Then I saw sawdust mentioned on some website and thought Yes!  I have a source of that.  Shove down some more cardboard and a good amount of that on top, and we're done.  But apparently I'd need to put in edging so my lawnmower man is happy?  Woodchips would also seem to need edging, and I'm not sure my feet (and knees) will be happy on it, anyway.  I don't feel confident about making edging and it feels like it might be expensive, too.

Does anyone have any ideas for what I could use?  I'd rather set up correctly from the beginning and I definitely see why we should have good perimeters around our precious MM enclosures.
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Post  yolos 10/30/2022, 12:44 am

I like the cardboard and then sawdust idea the best.  As a border between this and your lawn, you can lay 2" x 6" wide boards flat.  Buried just a bit so the lawnmowers wheels can run over the top of the boards thereby cutting the grass even with the top of the boards.
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Post  OhioGardener 10/30/2022, 8:52 am

When I installed the first raised bed I put down cardboard around it and covered it with several inches of free wood chips. As more beds were added, I put down more cardboard and covered it with wood chips. I didn't find a need to put a  border around them, I just tapered the chips as they approached the grass and i can mow right up to them with no problem.  I have never regretted having the wood chips between the beds. They are easy to walk on, the keep weeds out of the area, and they keep my feet from getting muddy while working the gardens. I don't walk on them barefooted, but then most diabetics don't walk around barefooted anyway.

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Post  sanderson 10/30/2022, 1:33 pm

If you are trying to make life easy for the guy that mows your lawn, I vote for something like what Yolos mentioned. Frame the current area 3' out from the bed(s). Use lumber, bricks, cement blocks, etc. Top the 3' wide isle with plain wood chips, with or without cardboard. Wood chips are a rather neutral material heat-wise. Artificial turf, rocks, gravel, cement, pavers, etc. heat up with the sun and create a hot micro-climate. Real grass is cooling. Wood chips are close to neutral.

As for as bare feet, keep a pair of summer rubber flip-flops and winter rubber clogs/Crocs by the door to slip on so that you can walk on the wood chips. I only walk around barefoot on the cool lawn. Even hot-footing across the bricks and cement walkways in summer is exciting when it's 110*F outside!!

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/30/2022, 5:23 pm

Thanks so much for the replies, everyone!  (What gorgeous gardens, OG!)  I realised in the night that I have a source of free second-hand bricks -- not enough for this, but it got me thinking and the local version of eBay/Craigslist has brandnew ones for ony $1 each which is cheap as chips!  I'm sure I'd pay more for timber and anyway, that's going to rot.

I'm thinking I won't even dig the bricks into the ground -- the lawnmower man can weed whack around the edge like he does around the patio, house etc.  I know this means the wheelbarrow won't be able to come close to the beds but that shouldn't matter, right?  My end plan is only two beds (possibly later, a third elsewhere) so we're not talking a lot of volume (either edible or compostable) and we're only supposed to need a trowel of compost per square in between plantings???  Or will this actually be a PITA?

And actually, assuming I'm not planning on using the wheelbarrow inside the perimeter, do I even need such wide aisles?  I can kneel facing onto the beds with only 2' - 2.5'.
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Post  OhioGardener 10/30/2022, 6:09 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: I know this means the wheelbarrow won't be able to come close to the beds but that shouldn't matter, right?  My end plan is only two beds (possibly later, a third elsewhere) so we're not talking a lot of volume (either edible or compostable) and we're only supposed to need a trowel of compost per square in between plantings???  Or will this actually be a PITA?

And actually, assuming I'm not planning on using the wheelbarrow inside the perimeter, do I even need such wide aisles?  I can kneel facing onto the beds with only 2' - 2.5'.

I am constantly using the wheelbarrow between the raised beds. When I'm cleaning off a bed and taking the tops of plants to the compost bin, the wheelbarrow is my companion. And, when the soil in the beds drops an inch or two by fall, the wheelbarrow full of compost is headed to the beds. When I need to pull the carrots so that we can process them for the freezer, the wheelbarrow is handy to collect them. Because my beds are 18" high, it is essential to have enough room for the wheelbarrow without rubbing against the beds.

Don't underestimate how many time you would squat down to work on a bed and bump into the one behind you if you only have 2' aisles.  If you have room, a minimum of 30" or a preferred 3' would be desirable.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/30/2022, 7:01 pm

OhioGardener wrote:I am constantly using the wheelbarrow between the raised beds. When I'm cleaning off a bed and taking the tops of plants to the compost bin, the wheelbarrow is my companion. And, when the soil in the beds drops an inch or two by fall, the wheelbarrow full of compost is headed to the beds. When I need to pull the carrots so that we can process them for the freezer, the wheelbarrow is handy to collect them. Because my beds are 18" high, it is essential to have enough room for the wheelbarrow without rubbing against the beds.

Don't underestimate how many time you would squat down to work on a bed and bump into the one behind you if you only have 2' aisles.  If you have room, a minimum of 30" or a preferred 3' would be desirable.

OK, so it looks like 3' between, thanks for that confirmation.  And I guess it also means I'm going to have to dig the bricks into the lawn too...........darn Rolling Eyes   But I guess it further means that the perimeter doesn't need to be that wide because I have lawn all the way around.  (Although we're not talking many bricks saved by making the perimeter narrower.)
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/31/2022, 12:51 am

I'm considering using bricks to edge sawdust/woodchips around the perimeter of my garden beds.  But then looking at them online I had a sudden thought: they have large holes, which will be sitting sideways all the way around my lovely beds.  Surely this is a wonderful place for slugs/snails to hide?  Are bricks a really bad idea or am I overthinking this?
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Post  sanderson 10/31/2022, 4:32 pm

Kiwi,  I think the first thing you need to do is figure out your philosophy or temperament.  Are you a "get 'er done" person or have the patience of Job?  Are you strong or mobility impaired in some way and have to do things in small measures?  Whatever you are, create a garden that works for you.  Do you have raised beds or are they on the ground.  With beds on the ground, I recommend 3' isles and perimeter isle.  If the beds are tall or table tops, 2 1/2' will work.

Is your compost close to the garden?  Do you need to use a wheelbarrow or can you transfer 5-gallon buckets of compost to your beds?  ("A trowel full of compost each time you plant" is only good for small, frequently harvested things like lettuce or radishes.)  Do you need a wheelbarrow for cleaning the beds or do you use a rolling 33-gallon garbage can or 5-gallon buckets?  If you need a wheelbarrow, you will need at least one flat entry way into the garden, or over time, the bricks or frame will be pushed into the ground. Even a board longer than the entry way but set inside of the isle opening so you can remove for the wheelbarrow.

If you have beds on the ground, a weed whacker is the best thing for getting grass and weed seeds into the bed.  I banned my husband from using it in the back yard!!  Shocked You can just watch the stuff fly.

My husband set these beveled bricks barely below the grade of the walkway to keep them in place.  Some of the wood chips get tracked out or dragged out with the hose during the summer.  Not a biggie for me.  He originally set treated 2"x4" boards but they warped, cupped and/or twisted.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/1/2022, 4:55 pm

Many thanks for your comprehensive reply, sanderson Very Happy   I'm obviously going to have to put a lot more thought into this.  I'd prefer to get it right from the start but perhaps better to just potter along and make improvements as I go.
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Post  sanderson 11/1/2022, 5:45 pm

Kiwi, can you post a photo of the bricks with holes? Are they what we can cement blocks?

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/1/2022, 6:46 pm

Hi sanderson, the auction is here, but it ends tomorrow.  The bricks are about 9" x 4.5" x 2.25".  They sell them for walls, house exteriors, paths, etc.  The auction has photos of them on pallets, but here's the best images showing the holes:

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Post  sanderson 11/2/2022, 2:21 pm

They would be fine for edging the mulched areas. Set the 9" side down with the holes pointing up. That will give you a 4.5" tall barrier that is 2.25" thick. Just like they are oriented in the photos. If you are concerned about snails/slugs, sprinkle Sluggo Plus in the holes. Or, just fill them with sand. How much are cement blocks, like 8"x8"x16" or 8"x6"x16"? Even if they are $2 each, that's almost the same price equivalent per linear foot.

Or wait.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 11/3/2022, 1:29 am

sanderson wrote:They would be fine for edging the mulched areas.  Set the 9" side down with the holes pointing up.  That will give you a 4.5" tall barrier that is 2.25" thick.  Just like they are oriented in the photos.  If you are concerned about snails/slugs, sprinkle Sluggo Plus in the holes.  Or, just fill them with sand.  How much are cement blocks, like 8"x8"x16" or 8"x6"x16"?  Even if they are $2 each, that's almost the same price equivalent per linear foot.

Or wait.

I went looking for cement block prices and found....cement pavers!!!  No holes at all rock on   I've found some second-hand ones which will be half the price of the fancy red bricks and so much easier to lay.  Thanks so much sanderson!!
 thanks
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