As part of my early spring yard cleanup, I trimmed back a ton of the huge rhododendron in the front yard to bring more light into the house, and finally deadheaded our huge hydrangea. I’ve been trying to make a point of keeping a somewhat closed system in the yard – that is, not throwing out topsoil/weeds if they can be composted and used in other parts of the yard, etc. Last year’s super hot summer showed that my hugel beds needed a bit more wood material to hold water, so I dug out the soil in the beds and put more wood in them.
I’d dig like 1/4 of the bed out, fill it with rhododendron trimmings and sticks from the hydrangea, then cover them up with more dirt, dig the next section, fill with woody material, lather, rinse, repeat. The woody stuff bumped up the volume in my raised beds, as every spring I find myself needing to add additional soil as stuff breaks down a little, but among my 3 different piles of compost I have going, none of them are ready for time in the garden, so I won’t have any new soil to add this spring.
As I dug through the soil, you can see the lighter brown spots where broken down wood was. It’s beautiful fluffy soil now.
I had some random scraps of untreated wood leftover from chicken pen construction and bits and pieces of bamboo that were used as stakes and impromptu fences years ago.
Every few years, I like to check on the status of the wood that the beds are made out of. Because it’s untreated, I have been a bit concerned that it’s going to break down. The bottom layer is now 7 years old, and the top layer is I think 2. Both seem to be in fine shape.
Then I just refilled and kind of releveled the bed. Then the stinker chickens decided that they had to make sure I did a good enough job. I guess the next step is making sure I can keep them out of the garden beds come the time I plant them!