Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bigger Beds

One of the things I need to remember to do next spring is to dig out a wider area under one of the paper birches. The planting bed under the birch tree has Chinese junipers on one end, fragrant sumac 'Gro-Low' at the other end, and a swath of burned lawn around it on one side.

I never remember that this area needs expanding in spring and early summer. The grass always looks fine for much of the early season, and I forget that when high summer comes it will burn out.

The thirsty birch roots are taking all the water in this patch of lawn, and no matter how much we run the sprinklers, it never helps. I need to remove the sod here, expand the planting bed to incorporate this dry area, and then let the 'Gro-Low' sumac spread out into the newly dug area to fill it.

Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' has been a wonderful groundcover plant that fills several areas of my garden. It is tough and tolerates dry conditions, so I have no worries that if I allow it to grow into an area that obviously struggles with enough water, it will still look great.

The best season of all for Rhus aromatica is in fall, when it colors beautifully.

October 30, 2014
I like how two birch trees framing the central garden are anchored by colorful sumac shrubs. In the fall picture above from 2014 the grass was once again green in the trouble spot, so again in 2015 I forgot about doing anything to expand the bed. Then it burned out, predictably, in summer and I remembered.

If I make the planting bed under the right birch tree bigger, I need to do the same with the planting bed under the left tree. The symmetry of the two birch plantings is what I like, and they will frame the center garden even better if I bring them out into the grass, toward each other a little more.
Like this -- the shadows on the lawn show me just where I'll need to dig.

I did spend one afternoon last fall starting the expansion on one side but I can see I need to make this three times bigger to make sure I've removed all the grass over the dry spot. And then I need to start on the other side.

Put it on the list of jobs to do in spring:
                                           Make bigger beds!


  1. Looking at your grass I can see the need to enlarge the beds . good idea. I love that you have two symmetrical beds and yes the birches stand out wonderfully.

    1. Thanks Patty. The photos really make me see that the beds need to be bigger, not just to cover burned grass, but visually they need to be bigger.