When you have a plethora of potted plants from Plant Sale raids, grown yourself or WHY and don’t want to spend half your summer watering them, this is the technique for you.
You need a flat, level piece of ground, continuous plastic sheeting and mulch. You also have the option of adding a soaker hose.
With a carpenter’s level and a straight piece of lumber create a flat piece of ground. You don’t want any high or low spots. If you have rocks or roots that could potentially poke through and compromise the plastic, rake a layer of protective layer of mulch over the offending objects. With mulch or soil, make a 4 inch (10cm rim) around the edge like a berm. Lay down your continuous sheet of heavy plastic. If you don’t have heavy plastic, lay down two sheets. Be careful not to make any holes during this process. Over top the plastic lay down mulch. Many larger plant pots have sharp nibs on their bottoms. These will puncture the plastic so mulch is needed. Add water to make a shallow pool. Smooth mulch so there are no lumps or high spots. Add soaker hose if desired. Add potted plants. The final rim should only be 2 inches deep.
When hardened off, even house plants can live in a summer bed if you can’t find someone to babysit or water them if you are going away.
I’ve had many trees, shrubs and perennials live for years throughout the seasons in these beds allowing them to grow strong for optimum transplants into the garden. During the winter months its best to remove one of the bed’s retaining wall to allow excess water to drain.
I have many of these beds scattered about. Some are in full sun, others in shade. Nut & fruit trees, Acer and Magnolia can go in full sun, but shade plants such as Trillium and other woodland plants go in beds in getting partial shade to mimic natural habitat.
Alternately, I modified beds to grow tomatoes using stucco wire, plastic sheeting and lots of medium.