My thrifty garden landscaping project – Building a weed-free raised herb border

If you’ve always wanted to grow your own veggies and pick fresh herbs from your back garden, I’m here to show you that it can be done in just a small space. Here’s how to grow your own herbs (and stop the weeds from making a comeback!) in a raised bed…

I’ve been back in the garden this week and things have been progressing nicely. You may remember that, back in the frosty days of January and February, I was installing retaining walls to terrace my sloped back garden. We decided that the best way to do this was to create raised beds from pressure treated timber, with the intention of eventually filling the ‘troughs’ with the soil that we had to dig out to level out the slope.

After that initial burst of activity, we left the raised wooden borders for a few months while we worked on laying a lawn (I’ll share some snaps soon) and building a shed. And, in the meantime, those raised beds began growing weeds – and plenty of them. It turns out that the soil we’d filled them with was full of dormant weed seeds – oops!

I’d always dreamed of growing my own veggies in my back garden. I wanted to start growing my own fruit and veg in a polytunnel and plant them out into tidy, no-dig beds. I could almost see those neat lines of carrots, and runner beans winding their way up canes. However, THIS is how my intended veggie patch area looks today:

It’s a little over-grown with grass and weeds. I don’t think that I’ll be planting out pea shoots any time soon. So I scaled down my ambitions for this year (seeing as we’ve been doing so much hard landscaping, I’m sure the veg can wait until next year!) and instead, I’ve planted up a herb border.

I’ve taken over the wooden retaining wall/planter nearest to the kitchen, for convenience of using the herbs while cooking. I began by clearing out all the weeds that had popped up in the raised beds BUT I knew that there was no way that I would be able to clear them all. So…

I added a weed suppressant membrane to the top of the raised bed and stapled it in place around the inner edges of the wooden frame. This would give me the best chance of having a neat, weed-free herb border and it’s designed to let the water through the mesh, so the plants I add will still benefit from wet weather.

I added the weed suppressant membrane to ALL the borders before cutting holes where the plants would be. The photo above is my ‘tropical’ border around my future alfresco dining deck. After adding the herbs to the planter closest to the kitchen, I covered all of the weed suppressant membrane with gravel from the local quarry.

We got a trailer load of gravel for around Β£15 so it’s a bargain way to keep the border looking neat and to suppress the weeds further, while still allowing the rain water to get through to the roots of the plants. And, after just a month or so, here’s how the herb border is looking now:

Knowing that mint can easily take over (just like the weeds I wanted to get rid of!) I kept it in its pot and planted the whole pot beneath the surface of the gravel. This will keep the roots contain and stop it from spreading all over the herb bed. I also got some chocolate mint from the Suffolk Show and OMG it smells like After 8s!

I’ve planted oregano, rosemary, thyme, chives, chamomile, lemon verbena and sage. I tried to grow some basil too but it didn’t survive so I’m going to keep it in a terracotta pot on the sunny side of the deck, as I think the trellis casts too much shade onto the herb bed for the basil.

I’m rather impressed with how quickly the herbs have grown – it would be a fun activity for kids to plant up a herb bed this summer because they’ll get a quick result as the herbs flourish.

While I can’t yet get started on growing my fruit and veg in my future veggie patch, I have actually sneaked a blueberry plant into the back of the herb bed. And there are actually blueberries growing on it! I snapped this photo today and I can’ wait to see if I’ll actually get a bowlful of blueberries for my breakfast one day soon – or if the birds will get to them first!

So that’s my update for this week – what have you been up to in the garden? Are you growing your own fruit and veg at home this year? Go on – make me jealous by letting me know your gardening achievements in the comments below πŸ™‚



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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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