Nature abhors bare earth and who am I to argue with that. So not long after the bulldozer finished bulldozing I set to work laying out my garden. It is such a momentous thing. I have been dreaming about it for months and months. Fortunately, the vision in my head is flexible as it has needed to morph into something else a couple of times. But it is still there and essentially it is still in line with my initial imaginings when I first laid eyes on the place and agreed to let Hubby the Un-Gardener drag me away from my old garden.
Once the site was cleared of grass to a point determined to be clean sand, I grabbed a tape measure and took stock of my space. I think this is why I need glasses. I thought the plot was short and wide, but it turns out, it is long and narrow-ish. Goodness me, how do I get on in life? This meant a quick trip back to the drawing board to rejig my plan. The plan I had held dear for a month or so as the ideal way it should be.
I attempted to start again from scratch, but I couldn’t tear myself away from what I had already decided. So, I just did a bit of tweaking and massaging and some shuffling and it all fell into place without changing the essence of the original design. Armed with a fresh print out of the garden, I grabbed some string and some stakes and attempted to mark it all out.
It turns out string lines aren’t my forte either. I had no way of guaranteeing they were at exact right angles and with maths not a strong point, couldn’t seem to figure it out. With the project as big as it was any error would be extrapolated out into disaster. It didn’t take long to abandon the string. I did have a large metal set square thing which was a little help but could only go so far.
There was only one thing for it… to lug all the wood over to the garden and lay it down where it was destined to be. That way I can see it all for myself and do any shuffling required. I started by laying out the outside edge, followed by several across the middle to make sure it would all fit. But the lack of surety that it was straight and square really bothered me.
So, I started again, grabbed the string again and put a line across the base of the garden and begun to layout the front row. The lack of an anchor point – something to measure off, still bothered me. I looked up and stretched my aching muscles from all the unnecessary lumber lugging and I saw my answer. The house!
All I needed to do was to measure the distance from the house, across the soon to be lawn, to the edge of the garden. The house was laid straight in the landscape as determined by surveyors and engineers at great cost. So piggy backing off their work would ensure my garden would be straight too! I used this measurement to create a string line I knew I could trust and laid the front ends of the first row of beds with confidence.
Then using the large metal set square, I laid the first sides. I wanted the gap between the beds to also be uniform and measured my cart to make sure it was wide enough – and some. I bent down between the beds and pretended to garden to ensure it would be comfortable for long periods of gardening business. So, using the beds themselves and the spacer board I began laying it all out.
I was excited to discover that if I laid it all out in a certain way the boards could be locked together and adjusted with the gentle tap of a hammer. There wasn’t a lot of movement at all and I felt confident there was little or no extrapolated drift from the original string line. It isn’t very conventional, but when have I ever been one to follow instructions. Proper builders may be horrified at my techniques, but they work for me.
Seeing it all laid out fills my heart with joy. All I need to do now is join them together and fill them with earth and plant them out. Simple aye?!
Come again soon – construction is underway.
Sarah the Gardener : o)