The Circle of Life

Finally spring has sprung along with our gardening fevers! After a few failed attempts at planting the garden bed in-front of our house in years past, we decided to dust off our black thumbs and try our luck again (this time sticking to a few cardinal rules we’ve learned the hard way). But just for fun, check out a few shots of last years attempt.

  • Street View (Partial) 2012
  • Garden – Front of House (View 1) 2012
  • Garden – Front of House (View 2) 2012
  • The weeds start moving in….

Cardinal Rule #1: Start small!! Gardening is HARD work and you don’t want to become discouraged by taking on too much.
Cardinal Rule #2: Do not plant before Mothers Day! This is perhaps one of the most important rules here in Wisconsin since our weather varies greatly even into June.
Cardinal Rule #3: Read plant tags before purchasing!! You want plants that will thrive in the type of environment your garden provides.

This year we wanted to start with a blank slate, so sticking to our new rules we set out to upgrade our sad excuse for a garden around a pine tree in our front yard. The plastic edging that had once surrounded the tree had long ago dislodged from the ground and the five or so hostas that resided around the tree were being outgrown by weeds.

Tree Ring - BeforeWe began by removing all the weeds using a dandelion weeder, ok well actually Peddy did that as I began to dig up the hostas. We planned to add more dirt and didn’t want to crush them or worse yet chance them popping up down the line.

Hosta Digging

Once everything was cleared I grabbed the Menards catalog and we jumped in the car to stock up on supplies. The bricks we wanted were on sale for $0.89 each! It didn’t take us long to settle on the Autumn Blend color, it was love at first sight!

Autumn Blend Restraining Block

We decided to started with 25 bricks and 16 bags of soil and would go back once we made a final decision on the number of rows we wanted. At home we began placing them around the tree slightly overlapping the existing grass line. We had purchased enough to start a second row which confirmed to us that it needed to be three rows high. Since it was almost dark by the time we finished placing the last of the bricks we decided to call it a night and would plan to hit up the store first thing in the morning to finish our shopping.

Tree Ring - Day 1

Before heading out the next morning we emptied most of the bags of soil we had purchased, in order to get an idea of how many more we would need. We also did a final count of the remaining number of bricks we would need to finish our project!

Soil Dumping

Back at Menards we picked up 10 more bags of soil and the remaining 25 bricks before hitting up the flower section. We’d spent several prior days observing the sun pattern around the pine tree in order to make informed decisions about the kinds of plants to purchase. So we knew we needed plants that would thrive in full to part sun. We ended up with a few staples and some new ones I’d never seen before.

Flower Cart

Once home we began unloading and stacking the remaining bricks around the tree. We decided to forgo the cap stones for the time being and instead flipped the third row of stones upside down to get a smooth, finished looking top. Once the remaining bags of soil were emptied and spread out, we finished the top layer off with some cow manure to give the plants some nutrients (after all we do live in Wisconsin). (Note: We will definitely add more soil next year but we didn’t want to blow our years gardening budget solely on dirt.)

Soil Shot

Next came the fun part….planting! We decided to dedicate a small portion of the garden to herbs and plant the rest with flowers. Peddy planted some chard and chives and I began to layout my flowers. I had a lot of fun planning where each one would go and trying to picture what it would look like by the end of summer. I never understood why people enjoyed gardening so much after my previous attempts, but this time around it finally clicked! Gardening really helps me relax and unwind at the end of the day, it’s so nice to spend some quite time outside with nature. I love seeing the plants grow and change everyday and knowing that we did it all is the cherry on top!

Kallie Gardening

It’s not perfect but it looks like we are on track to have one successful garden this year! We decided to stick to a more manageable size than in previous years and since the weather was on a steady up-and-up by my birthday weekend (which is the weekend after Mother’s Day) it seemed like the perfect time to tackle this project (a gift I get to enjoy everyday, you can’t beat that!) We also made sure to put a little thought and effort into our plant choices for the best survival odds. Hopefully my follow-up post pictures will be even prettier than these!

Tree Circle After

Have you started your garden yet? Thinking of building your own tree ring (or raised garden bed)? Have any great gardening tips? Please Share!!

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. Cris says:

    Looks good but you should have layer the next layer of blocks intermittently, not stack them on top of each other.

  2. Suzanne says:

    You are killing that tree! You cannot add dirt above the Root Collar of a tree or it will slowly be killed by rot and disease. You need to remove it all, and get it back down to the natural flare of the tree. Please call your local arboretum if you need to verify what I am telling you. What you did is a terrible mistake, but it is not too late for the tree if you remove it.

    • Kallie
      Kallie says:

      Oh no, I had no idea. Unfortunately, I think the damage has been done as it is already loosing most of it’s needles. I wish I would have known sooner. Thanks for letting me know! We won’t be making that mistake again.

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