The Beginning of a New Garden

The Beginning of a New Garden

It may not look like much now but just wait and see what it turns into. This is the way most of my gardens start, one small little spot in the yard that projects an image into my mind. Can you see what this might turn into?

Maybe not but I don’t blame you,

right now all that is there is a teeny maple tree (who incidentally would be five times as tall if it were not for deer and rabbits) and three little Russian sage plants I made from hardwood cuttings.

This is how most of my gardens start, small. Small plants and small areas. The reason is simple and twofold, time and money. In the long range plan I have this garden will play an important part in our backyard landscape but for now I have too many other areas to concentrate on growing. The border garden, the corner shade garden, the front garden, the back garden, the vegetable garden (maybe one day I’ll be more creative and come up with better names but descriptions make it easier to see the locations), etc. Each of these previously established areas needs weeded, tended, watered, and planted and there are only so many hours in the day to start new gardens.

This small garden was easy to put together. The maple was planted in the fall 2007, (yes that’s right 2007 and it’s still that small, thanks to the deer), it was one of several Arbor Day trees that I got through the mail. The Russian sage plants were completely free since they were produced from cuttings. They are small but will grow quickly and hopefully will be in bloom by August. I planted them very close together mostly because I suspected at least one would be accidentally eaten by a rabbit before they realized they didn’t like Russian sage. No bites have been taken as of yet. If the need should arise I’ll transplant one or two in the spring.

To prepare the garden area I gathered grass clippings and piled them around to smother the grass underneath. Then I waited a couple weeks and planted the Russian sage plants. They grew a few inches then I added some compost to top dress the grass clippings and covered with hardwood mulch. I didn’t do any real digging or even use newspapers this time, the grass clippings were enough to smother the grass. I spent time on it when I had opportunities to work.

Over time I’ll enlarge the bed and it will start to become a defining border between out lawn area and a large shade area, that all depends if the deer let my trees grow! How do you start you gardens? Do you start small and build your garden gradually or do you complete the garden right from the start?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Good thinking on the grass clippings to smother the lawn beneath it. I am trying different things this year too.

  2. We planted a dogwood tree that was just a twig a friend gave us from a dig your own place and the dogs kept thinking it was a stick to play fetch with! So we took some chicken wire and made a cage around it. That little twig is over 6 ft now and blooms in the spring.(left cage on for a few years)You might try that. Anyway I'm all for not digging,but since my soil is clay clay clay here in PA I tend to dig then amend constantly.But I really like the idea of not digging keep us posted.

  3. Excellent idea to use the grass clippings to smother the grass. A fence around the maple temporarily might do it. I had to do that with an Stewartia monadelpha tree I bought on a whim which immediately became snack food for wildlife! Good luck.

  4. I love building new beds…the beginnings are so much fun…very zen for me! Beautiful ironic to use grass to smother grass! gail

  5. Heather,

    It works great as long as you have complete coverage several inches thick. The grass breaks down fairly fast and then you're ready to plant!


    Me too. It's fun to imagine what will be!


    I did that around several small trees but took them down after high winds and rain this spring. I may have to put them back up if the deer keep nibbling. I did put some mesh around our grapevines.


    I think deer will eat nearly anything! Although some things they will take a taste of and move on.


    I enjoyed the irony too!

  6. We haven't really started any "new" gardens. We are still working on cleaning up and redoing all the existing flower and planting beds. We actually removed a couple that were just hideous and in terrible spots and not attractive.
    Although our veg beds are new. When we moved in it was overgrown with grape and blackberry vines that we gave away and planted a traditional garden there. This year we made it smaller with raised beds. It is a work in progress. It might still change next year.
    I will tell you one thing….I hate weeding out all the maple seedlings in all the beds in the whole yard. We have 5 maples. Uhg. Hope yours are far away!

  7. I start the same way-though I wish I could start really big right off the bat!

  8. I enjoyed the story of your little bed. Here's to hoping the tree gets a chance to grow! We start new garden beds every year. It usually starts when I decide I don't want to mow a particular piece of yard. I have to backtrack to mow the grass, or I have to go around an area two or three times to get all the grass, etc. So we cover the grass with newspapers, then pile on the mulch. We've got one ready right now to receive the daylilies we plan to buy next week on a little nursery hopping trip. ~~Rhonda 🙂

  9. Hi Dave,
    I really don't know what I'm doing, because this is the first time I've ever communicated this way!
    Just wanted to let you know I have just started reading your blog and enjoy your enthusiasm, your photographs and your obvious knowledge.
    I've been gardening my same little Nashville suburban plot for 39 years. I started out small – just like most people do – but somehow it never seems to stay small, does it? You get hooked and away you go: totally out of control!
    The twigs I planted 39 years ago are now mature trees, and the garden has evolved and changed.
    I look forward to following your garden journey.

  10. We usually start out a little bigger Dave. My wife usually draws up a plan on paper and then we kinda lay it out on the grass using grass string if the plan has curves to it. If not, we put down wet cardboard, cover it with grass clippings, water again. and wait till the following spring. So, in short, we start new gardens in fall. (Did you know your new little garden appears to be kidney shaped? That's a pleasing shape to many.)

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