Our Circular Garden - Digging out the central circular path and shaping key holes

in gardening •  last year

The weekend of Jan 22nd I was mostly focused on covering the remaining beds that had been leaf mulched and digging the center circular path down everywhere.

As of the end of the day my supply of ten cubic yards of good top soil had pretty much run out. Of course, my supply of good garden area has increased significantly. Now these gardens just need to sit for a while until it is time to plant them.

end of day progress
By the end of the day we have nine beds pretty much ready to go.

Digging the Inner Circle Path

I looked at this for a while and finally decided that rather than try to make the garden level I'd much rather have the pathways slope where needed, provided the slopes don't become too great.

Before this day was complete, only a small part of the central circle had been dug out and back filled with clay... and the mud is a bit hard to get a full wheel barrel through. For that reason I really wanted to at least get the path dug down to clay level so that I can start building it up as I finish digging the remaining beds.

the dug central circular path
You can see where the outer circle has been dug out. along with one of my key hole markers.

more of the dug central path
A better view of the center path, showing the center of the garden and some central key holes.

Finishing up the shape of key holes

Before this day started, the key holes in the mostly completed beds were in rough shape. Before putting down stone I needed to finish them up a bit.

All I did was place my 1x6 key hole frame (see here if you missed it) down, move the soil up around it, and level the clay a bit. I'll finish leveling it when I finally get around to buying the necessary stone which will likely be two months out due to my budget.

shaping the key holes
Some of the outer key holes looking much nicer.

more key holes with paver
Some more outer key holes shaped out with a large paver sitting at the end of one.

Notes on using stone paths

I debated using stone paths in the garden due to the expense, but decided to go ahead and use stone rather than just dirt or mulch for a couple of reasons:

  • If built of stone, the paths should absorb the daylight sun during the winter and hopefully keep the soil nearby a little warmer than normal and release the stored heat during the evening, helping to keep the garden slightly warmer than it will be otherwise.
  • It should look a lot nicer once completed, giving more of the look of a courtyard garden.

All told, the stone should end up costing about $800 once done... and if it helps keep things a little warmer during the winter I might be able to grow cold hearty crops all winter long here, something we couldn't reliably do otherwise.

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