Garden Edging and Fencing

Guarding the Defenseless Pansy…
If you garden in the city, it’s a good idea to protect the space from dogs, drivers and pedestrians.  Dogs will be dogs and must mark their territory.  So providing some barrier between the flowers and the dogs is a must.  Drivers of automobiles, service vans and moving trucks are unaware of street level gardens and are likely to park close to the curb. When doors swing open, it’s right into the garden or the fencing.  So, steel doors and adult feet vs. lighweight fencing and a defenseless pansy?  Put money on the door and the feet to squash every time.  And pedestrians?  Well, a garden can be perceived as a trash can.  I have found cigarette butts, cans and bottles of every size as well as paper and other trash in and on the flowers.  Sad but true. So you must protect the flowers. 
Here are some fencing options to consider – from expensive to low cost:
1. The Garden Club of the Back Bay offers a tree pit fence that is approved for use in the Back Bay.  This attractive fence is black and comes in one size – 4′ by 6′.  Cost is $950, which includes all approvals, plans and installation.  This is a great option if you are planting simple ground cover,  like ivy. 
I haven’t chosen this option for my tree pit garden because of two reasons – First, physically getting into the dirt within the fence would be too difficult.  And second, the fencing doesn’t have an edge so there is no easy way to add soil to make a raised planting bed.  The earth around most street-side trees is quite compacted and full of tree roots.  It’s nearly impossible to plant into the earth.  A raised bed is a neccessity and the fencing does not allow for this. 
2. Visit a reputable garden center and check out all the garden edging and fencing options.  Check out the pavers and bricks.  These are heavy… and  give you about 4 to 6″ off the ground.  You’ll need to consider some type of fencing to deter the animals.  FYI:  Molded plastic bricks and fencing hasn’t worked well in my space either.  I found it to break easily and discolor.
3. Check online for garden edging options.  Frontgate and Improvements have some interesting choices.  They can be expensive so double check your garden dimensions before spending any cash online. 

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2 responses to “Garden Edging and Fencing

  1. you can kill a tree by raising a bed around it – literally smother the tree and rot the trunk. To raise a bed around a tree trunk is a big no no, so think again – add ingredients to the soil to aerate it. Roots should show – root bulge is one way that trees “breathe.”

    • Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your point of view but respectfully suggest that gardening under a tree just needs to be done in the right way. I’ve tended a perennial flower garden surrounding a mature red maple tree for 15 years in Boston. By following a few simple rules, the tree is thriving, the flowers are blooming and the neighborhood benefits from both.
      Here are three rules I plant by:
      1. Add no more than a few inches of soil around the tree. That amount is adequate to plant a lovely flower bed.
      2. Never, ever mound up soil like a hill around the tree trunk. This can cut off water and oxygen to the tree.
      3. Plant perennials that don’t compete aggressively with the tree’s surface roots.
      That’s it. Simple rules that will not hurt the tree.
      For more information about planting around trees, I recommend these links:
      http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/planting-under-a-tree.aspx
      http://www.sustland.umn.edu/implement/planting.html

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