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.