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Redoing garden bed

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Redoing garden bed

Post  scmelik on 3/20/2012, 12:19 pm

Last year I put my garden on a cement pad that I had in my backyard, and while my garden did well last year dispsite my leaving for a few months during the peak growing time. However, the entire area that holds my garden looks bad so I am planning on doing a lot of work to it this spring. I plan on ripping out all of the concrete, cutting down a couple of trees that are really blocking the sunlight and possibly putting up a fence around the whole area.

I have come up with a few idea on what to do which brings me to you all for advice.

My first thought is that after I rip out the concrete and level out the dirt, to put some weed cloth over the entire area and then a layer of sand over that to assist with draining. Then putting the beds in and mulch around the beds.

My second thought is to put the sand down first and then the weed cloth over the sand. Then put my beds in and mulch around the beds.

My third thought is to not put any sand in and just put the weed cloth down, then my beds and mulch around the beds.

I am not sure if the sand is needed or which order I should put the sand and weed cloth. What do you guys think?

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  AvaDGardner on 3/20/2012, 12:44 pm

Jacking concrete and removing it is a HUGE HUGE job. Even if it's a small pad. Sledge hammers. Lots of Muscle. Dumpsters and dump trucks. Taking out trees is a big project, too. Fencing is great if you need to close it off from animals, and can give your garden vertical access.

Have you considered covering it with dirt or dirt/sand (as it is level and that's an advantage) and continuing to work on top of it? Weed cloth wouldn't be necessary because you won't have much thickness of dirt and the weeds would be shallow.

As I read what happened last year, I figured it probably looked odd...run off from the boxes, etc. It also would have been a heat source (since concrete reflects & retains heat)which is good in the cool weather but not so good in the summer. By covering it you would stop the reflective/retentive nature of concrete.

If you are determined to pull the concrete, and you can level the area with tools, you won't need sand above or below the cloth. Simply put down your cloth, and go.

If you pull the concrete, will the area then be depressed in relationship to the rest of the area? Then you'd have a trip hazard, unless you back-fill...more muscle and materials.

Remember, weeds do grow in sand!

Can you give us a pic of the area?

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  scmelik on 3/20/2012, 1:07 pm

Yes I am very aware of how big of a job it is, and that is fine it doesn't bother me at all but it has to go, it looks terrible and doesn't do me any favors.

The reason I thought about the sand is that I know that the dirt underneath the concrete is going to be very very dense and firm and I am worried about water pooling up underneath the beds. Maybe it not something I have to worry about at all.

As far as the change in ground levels that is one reason I thought about adding some sand to lessen that level and then the mulch would fill in around to make it more level. Since I am the only person that will be in the garden (no family for me) I am not overly worried about anyone tripping. Unless I am gardening and drinking HAHA.

I will try and get a picture off my phone this afternoon.

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  walshevak on 3/20/2012, 1:45 pm

Have you thought about making tabletops and not pulling up the concrete?

Kay

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  scmelik on 3/20/2012, 3:23 pm

@walshevak wrote:Have you thought about making tabletops and not pulling up the concrete?

Kay

you guys are focused on the wrong part of the post. I am not asking if I should or shouldnt remove the concretre, that is happening I hate it, it looks terrible and serves no purpose.

Ava made mention that the sand was unnecissary , is that a consensus?

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 4:09 pm

Yes I am very aware of how big of a job it is, and that is fine it doesn't bother me at all but it has to go, it looks terrible and doesn't do me any favors.

The reason I thought about the sand is that I know that the dirt underneath the concrete is going to be very very dense and firm and I am worried about water pooling up underneath the beds. Maybe it not something I have to worry about at all.

As far as the change in ground levels that is one reason I thought about adding some sand to lessen that level and then the mulch would fill in around to make it more level. Since I am the only person that will be in the garden (no family for me) I am not overly worried about anyone tripping. Unless I am gardening and drinking HAHA.

I will try and get a picture off my phone this afternoon.

I do understand your concern for good water drainage from your rescued garden areas. (rescued from the concrete!) For me it makes sense to put some good drainage soil, sand being one of them, beneath your sfg bed. Good luck with all your yard and garden plans!

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need pictures

Post  B maier on 3/20/2012, 5:08 pm

I don't think people are focusing on the wrong thing at all. You say the concrete slab "looks bad" and serves no purpose and many of us are envious of raised beds you don't have to mow around or try to keep level. It brings to mind the phrase "the grass is always greener"

Not to mention that it would be cheaper and easier to fix the slab instead of removing it.... heck just building a deck over it could be done in a day without breaking your back or your wallet.

You are mentioning sand combined with weed blocking cloth and frankly both of those have major drawbacks to think about. Sand doesn't tend to stay put as you walk over it and the wind blowing it around (the same can be said about mulch for that matter) Weed cloth will roll up, bunch up and tear. I have that in front of my house in an area people don't even walk on and it is a pain in my butt.

As for tree removal and the fence... good luck that's a big project. Shocked

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  AvaDGardner on 3/21/2012, 12:34 am

Well...drinking in the garden is rather relaxing. And we don't want the primary gardner to trip while focusing on something else as they walk into/from the garden!

Okay...no pic yet (go to the forum home page and read the "how to" subforum on posting pics)...

Decking sounds great, but would bring it up higher (I'm assuming it is level to the ground now, like a patio or RV flat).

If you want to remove it instead of using it (being level has a number of advantages!) then your compressed dirt underneath will be lower. Depending on how deep it is and what you want determines what you do.

If you have a lot of depth loss, (6"? 8"?) you can

a) build your boxes right there. I dug out my dirt to hard pan (about 7"), put the boxes on top (12" depth wood), then filled in the area around and between with mulch. Now the boxes look like they are 6" high. (Hit the link in my sig for photos). The dirt is 10" deep (aerated). To the native soil I added peat moss for acidity, and some other admendments to improve fertility. The boxes are not "full on level" and water is able to run out underneath if it needs. It's covered by deep mulch (ground up gum tree right now), so I don't see it.

b) if you want to have less deep boxes, you could backfill in the hole with sand and dirt to the expense that suits you. You could till the dirt underneath the slab to improve water absorption. Mixing in lava or pumice into this understructure will also help improve drainage.

If you backfill, now you have to be aware of leveling and stability. The weight of the boxes (not the dirt) will eventually press into the backfill. It's aerated, and now compressable.


Because I went deep before putting in the boxes, they won't sink anytime soon (unless a fault line opens!). Fellow plotters have had their sink in to where they are level with the ground.

Sometimes, compression is good! (So are level surfaces.)

What options have you come up with?

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/21/2012, 7:59 am

scmelik, if it was me I would go with the third choice you listed for yourself Very Happy You're leveling your ground, so just put down weed barrier, boxes and then put in whatever material you want for the areas surrounding the boxes. Rock, mulch, bark, whatever you think suites your landscape best. You could add another layer of weed barrier to the bottom of each of your boxes just for added weed/grass protection. I would think your drainage will be fine. Especially after your boxes are in place for a while and the ground under loosens up a bit.

Good thing about using the ANSFG method, is your beds don't need to be any deeper than 6" and no further digging under your beds is required. Sounds like you have nice stable ground underneath the slab. I would leave it at that. You've got a plan, and that's a good thing

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  plantoid on 3/21/2012, 4:28 pm

When we first came to this bungalow there was a 30 x 20 foot slabbed patio are half way down the garden ..it was dismal " Mr Nearly " , nearly got it right but his rain run off was all into the middle and the riven Yorkshire stone slabs ( read expensive ) & were so rough it was getting on for rock climbing everytime we negotiated the area.



I had a grand idea .. hire a 1 ton mini excavator , an elevating tub four wheel drive dumper , a couple of 8 cubic yard dumsters & clear the lot in a couple of hours as Alison is no stranger to riding and operating the four wheel drive dumpers for dumpster filling .

The appointed day arrived .. all plant and dumpsters came on site at 07.30 and by 08.00 I was in boiler suit and wellies about to get started..

I used the 1 foot wide bucket to ease up the first slab and put it to one side.. then tried to dig out the sand bed .. and found it was two inches of very weak mortar mix on some concrete. . the excavator wouldnt touch the concrete . So I took a quick trip to a local hire company and came back with a heavyduty road drill and high frequency generator and kissed anothe £ 200 goodbye.

Four days later we had managed to use the digger to swing the breaker over the concrete base and crack it all over into managerable lumps.. tried to load it and found it was only four inches thick on some thing hard about 8 inches down and we needed to be at least 12 inches deep . Using the breaker I found the underlying concrete was 22 inched thick Arrrragh .

Mr Nearly had been involved in some shady concrete deliveries by bth look of it and filled in a massive 20 x 30 concrete walled pond shallow koi pond he had constructed five year earlier.
.. You guessed it ...... It was constructed on about 20 inches of compacted hard core consosting of of brick , glass , old fridges, car engines and bed steads etc.etc.


One six ton excavator , a hydraulic pecker , seven x 8 cubic yard dumpsters & two weeks later we managed to remove the final chunks of concrete & rubble .



Whilst I had the bigger excavator I used it to put in five x 40 mtr runs of perforated 4 inch land drain a metre down .

What started out as an estimated £400 job finally cost us well over £ 2600.

Had I though more about building our 36 inch high 36 inch wide brick SFG beds then I'd have been able to get them all on the old patio pad and have decent clean concrete walkways in between as well as having the glasshouse in a much better sunnier place..& the log cabin office door facing the bungalow..

Ah well ...we live and learn .. the trouble is self learning tends to be rather expensive.

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  AvaDGardner on 4/9/2012, 10:36 pm

Plantoid...your post stays with me! I often think of it and how costs grow.

scmelik - what did you decide to do? How is it going?

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Re: Redoing garden bed

Post  GWN on 4/9/2012, 11:07 pm

plantoid, that IS a great post.
We once had a pool that developed a leak. After some testing we found it was in the piping into or out of the pool.
The ground was hard as a rock to dig in and we realized how long it might take to dig the whole thing up to find the leak.
I decided it might just be cheaper and easier to replace the pipes, which we did and completely bypassed the previous pipes
The pool was too cold, and eventually frogs took up residence and so everything was eventually a waste.
Sorry that was off topic, but it was SORT OF related to plantoids story.
I wonder too if the person who started this thread has torn up all of his concrete.
Maybe he found a pool...... or maybe something else, like buried treasure affraid

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