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The Landing Pad Border – Part 1


The border around the Landing Pad looks like the same as the other borders in the garden, but it has come about a very different way. It was the first border where the area had to be cleared, repeatedly, as it was used as a dumping ground. It’s the only border with a large middle that’s actually a dedicated seating area. It’s also the first border that was made employing an almost “no dig” policy because of the proximity to the large trees at the back of the garden and their attached roots.

The Landing Pad area started off particularly wild.

The area was covered with a large discard pile of rubbish. This was of our own making. With bamboo, large tree and branch prunings, more bamboo and more live bamboo beginning to run through it. It took some time to systematically work through the pile, which at one point was actually taller than the shed behind it.

The area went through several rounds of chipping, mowing, burning and council compost bin disposal before the ground was revealed. It looks like one small last push was all that was needed before creating the border here but there was much more clearing work that needed to be done before I could even think of a trip to the local garden centre.

No sooner was one pile cleared when another one took its place. This time, the large bamboo screen on the right was coming out. Several large, established clumps of Arrow Bamboo, many metres tall, had to come out, with the help of a mattock and one fork that did not survive the work. The same cycles of clearing, burning, mowing, re-filling with new rubbish, clearing, burning, mowing carried on as gradually the bamboo screen was forcibly evicted from the garden. We kept the long canes but that still left an awful lot of roots and leaf litter to dispose of. The dried leaves burned well and mowed well too.

Eventually the area was cleared, and it stayed clear as all the bamboo went. A final round of burning and levelling should have seen the area ready to start marking out the circular Landing Pad and surrounding border, but there was yet more work to be done before that could start. You see, the area at the back of the garden along the line of trees was also being levelled and worked and the excess soil and rubbish had to go somewhere. The nearest dumping ground was – you’ve guessed it – the Landing Pad.

The bamboo discard pile made a re-appearence – this was from the isolated clumps of bamboo planted right on the rear boundary. These much smaller, more manageable clumps were thinned, tidied and the lower leaves removed to show off the golden bamboo stems. I didn’t take these clumps out as the harsh conditions under the trees keeps the bamboo under control – relatively – so they stayed. In the picture, you can also just about make out some black landscape fabric. This is something we inherited in this part of the garden. In digging out the bamboo we discovered the landscape fabric layer ran from where the bamboo screen was on the right, across the whole area of the Landing Pad and several feet into the grass on the left. I wanted this out as I wanted the rain water and tree roots to have free access to each other without plastic getting in the way. Cue a great deal of time rolling up the grass and moving soil around to lift out this buried fabric.

Once I could find no more traces of the black landscaping material, the excess soil that was unceremoniously dumped on the area was shaped into a levelled disk and a last gasp of effort late in October last year saw it covered with bark chips, marking the seating area and creating the “Landing Pad” proper.

It took the best part of a whole season just to get a circle of bark chips down. On one hand, that does sound like rather poor performance, but the additional jobs of clearing out the back of the garden, raising the canopy under the trees, creating the compost heap, taking down a rotted shed, evening out the multiple levels, taking out a mature bamboo screen, clearing the rubbish (multiple times over) and removing and old layer of landscape fabric meant the bark chips took the best part of a few evenings to put down, the rest of the year was spent in preparation.

This year, the plan for the rectangular piece of grass and semi-circular border dictated the shape that the border around the Landing Pad was going to be. A poor start to the season (in terms of a long winter and extended, cold spring) saw the work start off rather late and it wasn’t until May that my favourite garden tool – the lawn edger – made an appearance and finally began to assert the border shape.

To be fair, I was procrastinating getting started on this job by doing a whole arm-load of other small, “five minute” and maintenance jobs before getting stuck-in with this. By the time I did get my lawn edger out, there wasn’t really much else in the garden to be doing other than simply getting on with slicing out turf.

With this ceremonial act, the borders around the Landing Pad could finally start.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Susan Maclean 22/07/2018 - 8:12 am

Phew! I came over all hot just reading that! If you wanted a free week’s holiday in the west country, perhaps you could come and do some stuff in mine!! Only joking. Unlike you I am not a good worker in hot weather. Also I do not water stuff. That’s a lie. There are a few things that will suffer badly if they do not get an early morning or late evening glass of water, so that gets done every day. This certainly includes the 4 new clematis that went in about three days before the heat wave arrived but I seem to have done the right thing by them as they are all flowering nicely. I have a little shady corner where plants that have been split and also those which have arrived by post are sitting with nice cool roots in cardboard boxes with a newspaper quilt underneath them. I am sure to loose a few things, but those with long roots are doing fine, as is the hardy geraniums and lavender. But I should so like a few wet nights, and I’m sure the garden would too! We have no grass, just a yellow patch, but that will renew itself as soon as we have some rain. Much as I love the summer, I really do want it to rain. A lot. For at least a week!!

Sunil 30/07/2018 - 6:57 pm

Hello Mrs. Mac, a holiday in the South West is on the list but it might be a little time ahead yet. t looks like your clematis have established well if they’re flowering away. Our grass has managed to stay green through this hot weather because of the high water table we have. The borders haven’t needed watering as all the plants have their roots down to the moist layer underneath. Gardens opposite us have grass that’s dry and brown because the ground slopes our way and we get the run-off passing through that the borders mop up like a sponge.

Casa Mariposa 25/07/2018 - 3:01 am

I love the landing pad! It was awesome! You did so much amazingly hard work! Yay for you and Gareth!

Sunil 30/07/2018 - 6:53 pm

Hi Tammy, we can’t enjoy it just yet though as we still need to do the fun part of planting up, unfortunately it’s been so dry that we might have to wait until early Autumn before we can. I’m hoping plants will be going cheaper by then anyway!

gardeninacity 26/07/2018 - 8:20 pm

You did a job of work there! Very impressive transformation. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Sunil 30/07/2018 - 6:52 pm

Thanks, Jason, despite not having to dig down and mix soil like the other borders, it still took a very long time to complete because of the rubbish clearance (multiple times), levelling, edging and figuring out what to do with all the fiddly bits.

aberdeen gardening 29/07/2018 - 1:21 pm

My goodness, I will most definitely catch up with the follow up.

Sunil 30/07/2018 - 6:50 pm

Coming right up, Alistair!


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