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Loving the garden's edges
April 15, 2010 - Kathie Evanoff
I recently brought up the suggestion of a short boxwood hedge versus a short stone wall to surround the garden beds in our yard. These edges would replace the trenches we currently use. There are several pros and cons between the two ideas.
A stone wall edge takes more preparation. A base has to be prepared, filled with sand and/or gravel and the stones have to be leveled to be done correctly. There is always the chance of movement from heaving caused by freezing and thawing of the first 12 inches of earth during our winters. But once correctly placed, the stone edging would only need moderate to minor repairs over the years.
The second edge, a boxwood hedge, would take less prep but more maintenance. Buying dwarf boxwood plants – off the top of my head, I’m thinking “Little Gem” – would mean planting them 18- inches apart followed by regular trimming once they grow enough to fill in their space at least three to four times a season.
Both edgings take a bit of maintenance, not much, but even that isn’t the most important part of this decision. What influences this decision is the idea that we first have to decide what we want this area to portray.
A boxwood edge gives a garden a formal look. Trimmed neatly to confine the plants in the garden bed, a green edge reminds me of all of the formal gardens I’ve visited, from estate gardens to cemeteries. The look they impart is one of a well-manicured landscape. As a result, what grows behind a green edge has to be well manicured too.
Stone walls, however, are casual. They make me think of an old-fashioned country garden. Behind a stone wall, you expect to see a bit of disarray.
The look and feel of the gardens behind these two borders is like comparing someone in a suit and tie to someone wearing a sport coat with jeans.
The solution is to go with both where they are needed. Just like you would wear the two outfits on separate occasions, the front garden should be the formal one. After all, this is first impression we give of our living space.
The back garden, where we actually live and play, is more casual and that’s where the look of the stone edge would best fit.
It’s spring in
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