How to Build a Useful, Interactive Garden
July 15, 2015

How to Build a Useful, Interactive Garden

Gardens should address the needs of people. Traditional landscaping with unused lawns doesn’t do this effectively. It also doesn’t conserve water efficiently. We are advocates for gardens that produce edible food, inspire us with beauty, encourage activity and interaction, save water and energy, establish a healthy and organic environment with lively soil, and most of all, create a useful space.

This recently completed garden was designed with these goals in mind. Below is a before picture, and we’ll follow our process so you can see the finished garden.

Before: Looking towards the home

This garden was a traditional landscape with an overgrown lawn and shrubs all around it. The shrubs covered all the fences and walls, which created a maintenance problem. What we’re going to replace it with is a much more useful garden that is interactive, encourages people to walk through it, encourages people to grow food in it, very low maintenance, and low water using with porous surfaces so that water can soak through and not run off. Basically, a useful garden that follows our theme of improving our lives.

Before: Looking away from the home

We’d like gardens to be interactive. You can walk through this garden on paths that aren’t impervious. We want to make sure we have trees that cool the house, save energy, and places for people to sit and talk, to enjoy their garden. We used steel edging to set up the foundation for a system of paths. When it is set up, you can begin to see the structure of the garden. There is going to be an extended patio off of existing patio out of brick and a system of pathways that takes you through the garden, leading over to the vegetable area. It’s interactive, it’s useful, it’s attractive.

Steel edging showing the structure of the garden

This is the finished garden, utilizing the plan specifications for demolition, layout, lighting, and planting.

After: Looking towards the home

Extended patio out of brick leading to pathways

After: Looking away from the home

Pathways leading to different areas of the garden

The last thing we like to do at the very end to every garden is apply our John & Bob’s products, which addresses the most important part of gardening, the health of the soil. Most of the microbiological life in the soil is in the top 1 to 2 inches, so we use a simple topical application of Blend (a pre-mix of Optimize, Maximize, and Nourish-Biosol) to start a powerful change in the soil. Blend introduces all levels of microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa) that digest thatch and dead leaves, creating food for beneficial microbes. It feeds the beneficial micro-organisms in your soil so that it can store and release nutrients and water plants much more efficiently. It also provides natural organic nutrients for plants to use right away and reduces pests and diseases. After applying Blend, we use Penetrate to accelerate the soil loosening process and begin the natural cycle of life by breaking down nutrients for plant use. Watch the video of John applying our products to this transformed garden below!