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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:35 pm

Landscape Rock

yard prior to clearing
yard prior to clearing
First time asking a question (just found this forum!) I have a VERY large yard! Just one part is 32 x 60 which contains 2 mature fruit trees, and two young ones. It contained several rotted out in ground garden boxes, weed issues, all of which attract gophers.

The plan is to completely revamp the whole thing (trees remain of course). The rotted out boxes are going, the whole area needs to be leveled, and I figured it would be best and easiest to maintain if I lay weed fabric and base rock w/fine gold gravel on top. Then I'll remake above ground garden boxes w/gopher wire.

Here's the issue, the "recommendation" is 3 inches of base rock and 1-2 inches of gold gravel. For that size of area its almost 2 thousand dollars (US) for the rock alone. The guys at the landscape rock company said its just the textbook recommendations and given our low rainfall and that its nowhere near the house I may not need that much base rock but to get advice from others.

This is why I'm asking everyone's advice. I know no one else to ask, and I don't want to have cut corners only to have to re-do this. I have my gardeners for the next few days all day who I'm paying to do this work.

Any advice? I will irrigate the above ground boxes with drip run from a spigot that is in that back area. There's also a keyhole garden box that'll go there.
rosemary has got to go! so do the rotted boxes
rosemary has got to go! so do the rotted boxes

Posts: 11118
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Landscape Rock

Welcome to the forum. It would help if you update your profile with your zone and location.

If you are going to keep the fruit trees, you may need to relocate the boxes and not leave it in the same place. This is especially true if your mature fruit tree roots have already invaded the area.

If you have a big yard, then locate a vegetable garden somewhere where it will get at least 6-8 hours of sun and not near any large roots of any tree. The garden size will depend on what you want to plant and how much you need.

Dig a hole and do a soil percolation test. If your soil drains well you should not need any rocks.
While you are at it get a soil test. If you have a land grant university or a master gardener program near you, they can tell you where to take the soil sample to be assayed. Most universities have a small charge. Professional soil labs will be expensive. Hower, the soil test will give you advice on how much compost and fertilizer to add and if you willl need to adjust the pH. ... your-yard/

If you are building a raised bed and the soil below does drain, all you have to do is build the container and fill it. ... garden-bed

You can do a lasagna bed or you can buy a soil garden mix.

Sheet mulching is the lazy way to garden but it takes time before it will be ready.
if you have a composting facility near you, you may be able to get a garden mix to fill your bed
Otherwise Mel's Mix works
1 part compost made from at least 5 sources
1 part peat moss
1 part drainage material (vermiculite) ... aised-bed/ ... eet-mulch/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Landscape Rock

Yeah, agreed. I don't see the point of ANY rock or gravel under your raised garden beds. You want the roots of your plants to grow down into the soil under your bed and get water and nutrients there. They can't do it if there is rock.

Sounds like the kind of thing they used to recommend about flower pots/ containers, to put a few inches of gravel or broken up clay pot pieces, etc in the bottom "for drainage." That turns out to be a big myth. When there is a sharp divide between a soil layer and a rock layer, the water won't cross the divide until the soil layer is completely saturated. So it makes the drainage worse not better.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: Facebook page I manage for them: Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1031
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: Landscape Rock

I've seen cases where weed barrier makes a bigger mess than it prevents. It works fine for driveways or paths over which you lay gravel and where you constantly kill any plants that come up. But for the bottom of a raised bed box it's a terrible idea. The roots will grow through the barrier anyway. And if you have good drainage you really don't need the gravel on the bottom. I do agree with some sort of wire or hardware cloth barrier on the bottom. I've got a vole problem in my terrace garden and wish I had laid down hardware cloth as I was installing the terraces.

Move the beds away from the trees, far away from the trees. I've had a problem with tree roots invading my raised beds, It's so bad that even after a full day of rain the beds remain really dry. It's great for spring bulbs, lilies, and garlic but nothing else lives very long.

If you want to keep the surface weeds from growing up through the bed you will have to work at removing them before setting up the beds. If it's just grass you can lay down a few layers of cardboard or several sheets of newspaper before setting up the beds. That suffocates the grass. Or, if you can get it, you can put a bunch of wood chips down before adding the soil. You'll need to add some extra nitrogen but they do hold quite a bit of moisture.

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