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Creating a Parterre

Parterres are ornamental flower, herb or vegetable beds edged by low, tightly clipped evergreen hedges. This herb parterre is ideal outside a kitchen window.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs
Herb Parterres are Ideal Outside a Kitchen WindowSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Tip for Success

Pinch out the growing tips of the edging plants to produce a compact, bushy hedge. Once established, they can be trimmed three times during the summer to keep them tidy.

Pinch Out Growing Tips During SummerSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 1

Clear the site of weeds and then dig in plenty of compost and crushed stone to improve the drainage of the soil. Many herbs originate from Mediterranean-type climates and therefore thrive in such well-drained, dry conditions.

Clear Site for Herb Garden and Add in CompostSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 2

When the soil is dry and workable, rake the soil level and remove any large stones or roots of previous plants that might still be in the soil. The best tool for doing this job is a large-headed, stainless steel landscape rake.

Clear and Rake Soil Level to Prepare for Herb BedSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 3

Tread over the freshly cultivated soil in both directions to firm it and remove any air pockets. Keep your feet close together and firmly press your heels down into the ground. Gently rake over the soil again afterward.

Tread Over Soil to Firm and Remove Air PocketsSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 4

Place landscape fabric over the area to be planted. Dig the edges of the material into the soil to help hold it in place. The fabric will reduce the amount of watering and weeding needed later in the year.

Use Landscaping Fabric to Reduce WeedingSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 5

Measure and mark out the pattern of the hedging with chalk to draw on the landscape fabric and pegs. Keep the pattern simple when designing for a small space, since too much intricacy will look messy and is hard to maintain.

Mark Out Pattern on Fabric for Hedging DesignSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 6

With a sharp knife, cut slits into the landscape fabric approximately 8 inches apart where the hedging plants are to go. Using a trowel or just your fingers, make planting holes in the soil and firm in the hedging plants.

Cut Slits in Landscaping Fabric for Hedge PlantsSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 7

Work around the pattern until all the hedging is planted. The shrubs in this pattern are box (Buxus sempervirens), but other suitable plants include Lavandula angustifolia and Teucrium x lucidrys.

Boxwood Used for Hedging DesignSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 8

Arrange the herbs in their pots until you are happy with the design. Larger plants, like this bay tree in a terracotta pot, can be used to create a focal point. Cut the fabric and plant each herb carefully, as in Step 6.

Plan Out Design for Herb GardenSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 9

Carefully check over the herbs and prune out dead growth or shoots and branches that may have been damaged during planting. Brush away any soil or leaves that have fallen onto the fabric and water all the plants in well.

Brush Away Soil or Leaves from Landscaping fabricSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Step 10

Place slate chippings over the surface of the fabric. This gives the parterre an attractive finish and hides the cuts that were made for planting. Other mulching materials can be used instead of slate, such as gravel.

Use Slate or Gravel for Landscaping MulchSimple Steps: Herbs ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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