Monday, May 19, 2014

Boundary issues

I have boundary issues. Not as in a lack of any boundaries--quite the opposite. I like boundaries. I like clearly marked property. I like name tags, monogrammed stationary, and signet rings. I like knowing what belongs to me and what doesn't. Don't even think about asking me to share my dessert.  It's not going to happen.

Garden boundaries not only mark off your bit of turf from your neighbor's, but they also organize all that green stuff into visually comprehensible blocks of lawn, bed, and hedge.

A line of privet separates one portion of the front yard from our neighbor's lot.  This hedge is homely, dead boring, and purely utilitarian, as all privet is.  Every few years the privet needs to be cut back hard in the spring in order to keep it from becoming tall and leggy.  Last weekend, it was snipped down to about a foot high.  Fertilizing, top-dressing, and edging are needed before it looks presentable.  Some new shoots and leaves would be helpful, too.

Pruned back privet

Yes, about edging. Using a half-moon edger, I try to border beds twice a year.  Nothing makes a garden look better tended (particularly if it is not) or eases the challenge of mowing along the border of a bed more successfully than a clean cut edge. And, visually, a bit of tidy edging brings into focus the break between a lawn's green even roll and the patterning of a flower bed.

Curving border along front walk
Received wisdom suggests that plants should sit anywhere from a few inches to a foot back from the edge of the bed.  I have found adherence to this rule to be a secret weapon in my mission to continually expand the size of the flower beds.  The plants grow larger so, hey, what can I do but cut a wider bed?  And, so, ugly patches of lawn are gobbled up.  In other words, not only will I refuse to share my dessert, but I'm likely to sneak a bite of yours!

Edging creep: the secret to silently expanding your flower beds
Sometimes a plain cut edge isn't enough, and the boundary needs to be marked more forcefully.  My parents used to call upon metal hoops and aluminum sheeting for this task--and I well remember the snarl of rusted junk to which those accoutrements inevitably decayed.  I've nevertheless considered resorting to sheet metal edging in order to stem the march of lilies of the valley from the back bed, but I'm not quite that desperate yet.  In the meantime, I limit myself to natural materials. Granite cobblestones, picked up at a local stone yard, add a line of contrasting color and texture to this bed of Siberian irises.

Granite cobblestone border
Good fences may make good neighbors, but they also make a person feel good herself. Dessert helps, too.

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