Our side border, or as we call it - the border of death

Digging the Border of Death from Tom on Vimeo.

Ever since we've been here this side border has been known as 'The Border of Death'. It's got our house on one side, and a fence on the other, so it basically never sees the sun. It's waterlogged in winter and bone dry in summer. It's where plants go to die.

So taking the advice of a very nice lady at the Chelsea Flower Show last year we decided to do the only thing we could. Improve the soil. So we built a new high wall of wooden railway sleepers, then ordered a tonne of topsoil and a tonne of compost to fill the new bed.

I spent an entire weekend shifting it onto the border without a wheelbarrow. Not the brightest of ideas - I could hardly move the following day. And to top it off, there wasn't quite enough soil. So there's more lifting and shifting to do. Combined with a sharp trim of the shrubs to get a bit more light, hopefully we'll have a fully functional new border. Now we just have to find some plants to fill it. But that's the fun bit...

The border as it was. Barren, and very unhappy.
Compacted, bone dry heavy clay soil.

First step - the railway sleeper wall.
The soil - arriving by crane.

Two bags. A lot of work. But worth it! See the video at the top for the end result.


  1. Tom, that looks awesome and I'll be stealing that idea ... any advice on dealing with boggy land? I'm guessing something similar might work.

    Also, dude, buy a wheelbarrow ... XX

  2. Thanks Rach! I'm hoping that raising the soil level and adding serious amounts of compost will do the trick. To be extra sure, we also put in a small perforated drain running along the length of the bed, and connected it up to the house drainage system under the path. Hopefully it should stop the winter waterlogging, but I'll have to let you know if it's worked in the spring.

    And yes, I definitely need a wheelbarrow!