One nice thing about our Flea Market Gardening companion blog, is that we can feature some big garden projects, step by step.
This May, Marie and Randy Niemann, of Ogden, Utah, embarked on an ambitious raised bed project which totally transformed their back garden and patio. Here’s how they did it over just the last months.
Randy was the architect and muscle for the job, and Marie, a long time member of our Flea Market Gardening Facebook page was the ‘decorator’, embellishing the beds with her collection of Flea Market junkola. Marie certainly did her part of the construction, too, even though she needs to be careful of straining her back. Here, she says, she laid out the general plan to change their lawn into four raised beds with brick paths between. They also wanted a seating area in which to relax, barbeque and sit and enjoy the garden’s progress.
Garden plan laid out with ribbon
In order to complete the job, they needed to rent equipment to do the heavy work, such as this Dingo, sort of a self-propelled push tractor. They also added water spigots and drip emitters to each bed for irrigation. Randy took a week off from work to devote to the project…what a guy!
Marie had to remove all the Flea Market finds
First each laid out the plan, Marie with tape, Randy with flags,…just get the lines straight! You might see Marie’s Mr ‘T’ back there in the corner, a scarecrow Randy and Marie made of old Model T parts. He’ll supervise the job until he’s moved to the front yard to join Neighborhood Watch.
Randy removed quite a bit of dirt with the ‘Dingo’
Nine yards of gravel!
Filling the space with a gravel base
Since Marie and Randy live at 4500 feet, they needed deep footing to run water pipes.
“More prep work, the area has to be perfectly level, a good foundation makes for a good end result.”
Marie has a tip, “The main rule of thumb is to have a good solid level foundation to get good results in the brick being level. I actually invented a little tool to help in measuring the tamped down gravel. It had to be perfect! I got tired of bending down measuring the depth for Randy. So I got a piece of white PVC pipe and spray painted the bottom three and a quarter inches florescent orange. Then it was simple to walk along to check the depth against the string to see if we were high or low. Don’t know if that’ll make sense, but I was happy with my invention that saved my back!”
Starting to build the planter boxes from Randy’s design.
One box done, four to go. The blocks inside hold the planks together securely.
All six boxes built, four large, two small.
“Looks like it is going to take a lot of dirt to fill the boxes now. Marie says, “We have some we saved to fill each one part way up, then add good rich soil hopefully weed free! I have a lot of sand left over, so I’m thinking of mixing some of that with this dirt. It should be easier on my back and also everything will be within reach from each side. I’m excited to get to them filled and get busy planting seeds and rust!”
Boy, that was a lot of work! We are SO tired just watching you two do the heavy lifting…..
Laying pavers all day in the heat makes a guy dog-gone tired!
Marie says, “I don’t know why Scooter and Tucker didn’t go lay on the nice soft cool grass. Silly Boys!” We say, “Pavers? The dogs or the bricks? My thoughts exactly! You need more dogs to pave this area.”
A truck load of good dirt
Now for the best part….dirt!
Ready to plant.
Any gardener loves this sight….only we know the satisfaction and hard work it takes to get a garden bed to this point. A blank canvas to ‘write’ on and Marie writes in RUST!
But oops,…not quite yet…
First things first before we plant we need water.
Randy and Marie installed water lines to each box with drip lines for irrigation.
What are you planning to plant, Marie?
“Mainly veggies and will for starters use containers for flowers until I get a feel for how it’ll look! Before I had one small garden and one even smaller to plant and decorate. Now I’ll have to give this some thought with five!”
Finished raised bed garden, complete with the table and benches that Randy also made.
Marie says, “My hubby bought an umbrella for the picnic table he made, and I told him good job on the color! It’s the exact color of rust!”
It should be easier on my back and also everything will be within reach from each side. I’m excited to get to them filled and get busy planting seeds and rust!
Marie’s junkola is ready to go in.
Funnel planters with baby wave petunia’s started from seed
A little more Rust, old bike and gate. That new windmill needs to age
Randy, taking a well deserved break with a Blue Bud.
View from the deck, July 3rd and things are growing and filling in.
“I’m having a blast! It makes me so happy to finally be able to grow more veggies and enjoy my rusty treasures at the same time. I know we’ll be spending a lot more time outside now!” says Marie.
Salad Garden, July 11
“This is the pepper garden with my favorite hanging funnel planters filled with wave petunias I grew from seed.” (see the picture above)
All photos are by Marie Niemann. More detail shots in the slideshow: