Forum home Garden design

What to cover the ground with between raised veg beds

I've put in some raised veg beds using sleepers over an existing lawn.  I've now realised it's almost impossible to cut the grass between the beds though, as although the lawn mower fits the gaps it doesn't get close enough and I have long grass all around the edges.

I've thought about putting down weed control fabric and covering with bark chippings but I'm concerned about how the birds will fling that around and it end up everywhere.  I've also thought about using the weed control fabric and gravel, but hubby feels that will turn into the local cat toilet.

Any body got any other ideas?  I don't want to slab/pave it, not just because of the expense but also because it's a very boggy/clay garden already and i don't want to add to the drainage issues.

Do you think something like a creeping thyme would work? or maybe some other low growing plant that I could still walk on?


Tomorrow is another day


  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,068
    edited May 2022
    Coarse gravel or slate chippings would be less likely to turn into a cat toilet than the fine stuff, but could be less easy to walk on. I think thyme and similar plants would be unhappy if the same areas were being walked on repeatedly for tending your veggies. Maybe slab "stepping stones" placed on top of membrane with coarse gravel between them and round the edges?
    Edit: I'm envisaging something like this but with coarser gravel and maybe bigger slabs, pic is from here

    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,068
    Or slabs with thyme or similar around them, but it might take a lot of plants and some time to get enough coverage to keep weeds down.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,756
    We have weed suppressing membrane ( the thick heavy stuff, not the lightweight fabric variety that tears easily), and bark chips at our allotment. The birds don't pay any attention to the bark chips, and neither foxes or cats poo in it. The only problem we do have, is Foxes trying to dig up the bark chips/membrane, as they have learned that there are worms under it. 

    Eventually the chips break down into soil, and it acts as a great substrate for weeds, so more and more weeding is required, or replacing the chips every other year. We still think this is the best option for us, plus we get free bark chips at our allotments.

    Personally I wouldn't use paving or anything hard, as it's a killer on the knees! Better something soft under-knee. Pea gravel would work, and be more comfortable than larger gravel/pebbles, but depending on how much you need, it could be pricey. In theory creeping Thyme might work, but if you are on heavy clay, there may not be enough drainage (agree with JennyJ that you would need to buy a lot of plants, or wait ages for it to cover everything).

  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    I have a good depth of blue granite chippings with membrane underneath between my raised veg beds. Great for drainage. I always wear gloves to scrape it back with my hand when weeding as it's not as 'moveable' as smooth chippings. 

    I don't have a cat problem as the nearest houses are a third of a mile away, just the occasional farm cat is seen but has never used the gravel as a toilet. It's too difficult to scrape aside, and cats don't have gloves!
  • WAMSWAMS Posts: 1,216
    Why not just clip the grass with shears? 
  • Jenny_AsterJenny_Aster Posts: 614
    edited May 2022
    I did put down a heavy membrane with wood chips on top, trouble was the wind blew the chips all over the place when we had a dry spell. Since then I've scalped the turf off the ground (easy to do since it's only been laid 9 months ago) and then spread the chips on top. So far the wind hasn't moved the chips and I've not had much trouble with the birds.... but my hairy dog  :s, oh boy....... the chips get caught in his fur and he discards them in the house  :/
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,133
    Larger gravel will be fine - 20mm or more. I have lots of gravelled areas and it's the only part of the garden the r*ddy cats don't sh*t on. You'll still get the odd thing seeding in, but it'll be virtually maintenance free. 
    The slate would also work well.
    Your budget will be a factor  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I have woodchip and bark paths and they do need topping up every year but otherwise they are useful and keep weeds down.  You need quite a deep layer, though, or you will have weeds, and regular hoeing or raking is helpful.  I have had a couple of incidents where it has been used by a neighbour's cat but they generally prefer soil.  I have also used gravel but this seems to grow more weeds and need more maintenance because the weeds look more obvious.  You can also use decomposed bark and woodchip as a mulch elsewhere in the garden and refill the paths with new stuff.
  • DogmumDogmum Posts: 94
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts/suggestions, I did wonder if a creeping thyme would really be up to it.
    @WhereAreMySecateurs even with shears it’s a really slow job trying to get close enough to the wood.  The grass strands grow vertical up the side of the wood and you literally need to move each strand and cut with scissors to make it look anything like neat.  I really should have thought about it a little more before I built the beds.
    Tomorrow is another day
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,794
    Use a strimmer round the edges?  A lightweight electric or battery powered one with a nylon thread would be easy to handle and quick to use.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
Sign In or Register to comment.