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Lay a Gravel Garden

Drought-tolerant plants that originate from arid, rocky places look at home in a gravel garden. Ideal for a hot, sunny spot, a gravel border is easy to make and creates a mosaic of colors and textures.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

When to Start: spring
At Its Best: summer
Time to Complete: 6 hours

Materials Needed:

  • drought-loving plants
  • washed sand
  • landscape fabric
  • scissors
  • galvanized staples
  • watering can
  • gravel
  • boulders

Prepare the Area

Dig over the area thoroughly and remove any weeds. You need a well-drained soil to keep drought-tolerant plants happy, so dig in washed sand to make sure that yours drains freely, even in wet weather.

add sand to soil if needed for drainageHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Lay Membrane

Weed-suppressing membrane or landscape fabric allows rain to soak through to the roots, yet prevents weeds from growing. Lay it over the entire area, overlapping the edges and pinning them down with galvanized staples as you go.

landscape fabric suppresses weedsHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Cut Crosses for Plants

Place your plants in their positions on the landscape fabric, and then arrange them to create a pleasing display. For each plant, cut a cross in the fabric and fold back the flaps.

cut cross in landscape fabric for each plantHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Plant Through Fabric

Dig a hole and plant your plants at the same depth they were at in their pots. Add a little fertilizer to the back-filled soil and firm it in. Replace the fabric to fit around the stems.

insert plants through landscape fabricHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Spread Gravel Mulch

Once all of the plants have been watered in, spread a 2" layer of gravel over the entire area. You may need to top this up occasionally to keep the garden looking its best. Water the plants in dry spells for the first year.

gravel mulch adds textural element to gardenHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Self-Seeded Gravel Garden

A slightly different style of gravel garden uses no landscape fabric. Plants are left to self-seed and create a wonderfully natural effect, but make sure you remove every scrap of perennial weed during the preparation.

Encourage Seeding

Both weeds and seedlings of desired plants will spring up in a gravel bed, and it's important to learn the difference between them. To identify them you may have to allow weeds to grow larger than you would ideally like. In addition, deadhead regularly; seeds will never get the chance to form if the flowers are cut off the moment they start to fade.

Sea holly (Eryngium giganteum), 36 inches high, 12 inches wide (image 1); Welsh poppy (Meconopsis cambrica), 18 inches high, 10 inches wide (image 2); love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), Persian Jewel Group, 16 inches high, 9 inches wide (image 3); foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), 5 feet high, 24 inches wide (image 4).

  • eryngium giganteum example of self seeding flowerHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • meconopsis cambrica example of self seeding flowerHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • nigella damascena example of self seeding flowerHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010
  • foxglove is an example of a self seeding flowerHow To Grow Practically Everything ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010

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