The Long Border

This is probably our biggest project yet. We decided at the end of 2009 to clear out a long bed some 120 feet long by 12 feet deep. This had become overgrown with shrubs and trees and the topsoil invaded by ivy and ground-elder. Our first task was to fell a number of trees and clear out the overgrown shrubs. Then we would need to remove about a foot of soil from the whole length of the bed to clear out all the old roots and replace it with new top-soil.

Cutting the laurel backMost of the shrubs cleared behind the wall

Cutting the Laurel back - and the section of the border behind the wall

The Long Border looking down towards the pergolaLooking through the archway

The bed partially cleared

Trimming the Magnolia

Trimming the lower branches of the Magnolia

This was about as much of the clearing as we could accomplish on our own. Because the top layer was of such poor quality, being choked with roots, the decision was to remove the top 8 - 10", rotavate the ground beneath and replace with new top-soil. This was going to require some serious machinery. All the soil that was removed had to be barrowed out to the road so it could be collected by the grab-lorry.

Scraping off the top surfaceTaking the soil away with a grab-lorry

Scraping off the surface soil and roots - and the first load being removed by the grab-lorry

The water-logged bed

The top layer of soil removed

Unfortunately February 2010 has been extremely wet and the ground is water-logged following removal of the top layer. We are going to have to wait a few days for the area to drain before rotavating the surface in preparation for the new top-soil.

Rotavating the ground to break up the remaining rootsSome of the new topsoil delivered

A week on and the ground has dried enough to rotavate - and one of the loads of new top-soil delivered

Using a digger to load the barrows

The new top-soil would all have to be barrowed to the site

It was not possible to allow direct access of the delivery lorries to the new border - so the new soil would all have to be barrowed to the site, which was going to be a time-consuming task.

Barrowing the soil to the siteThe bamboo moved back from the path

Barrowing the soil to the site - and the black-stemmed bamboo moved back from the path

The major work complete

With the new top-soil in place the bed is getting to the stage where we can think about the planting of the long border. Before we do this though we need to re-build the dwarf wall along the path and set the stone plinth for a new greenhouse which will stand at the far end of the new border.

The path as the contractors left itThe paving slabs re-laid before infilling with sand and cement

Unfortunately the contractors left the path bordering the new bed in such a poor state it had to be re-laid

It is now mid March 2010 and we just need to re-lay the dwarf wall along the length of the path to complete the construction, then finish the path by pointing between the paving with sand and cement. We used a fairly dry mix for the pointing, as it is easy to work and doesn't mark the paving slabs in the way conventional mortar would.

Pointing in the pavingUsing a dryish mix to complete the pointing

The dwarf wall re-built - all that remains is to point in the paving with sand and cement

The bed is now finished, the path re-laid and the dwarf wall re-built

Meanwhile the planting is starting to take shape - and this is chronicled on a separate page on the site.

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