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How To Keep Mounded Beds From eroding?

Austin Verde

Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 13
This is my first post on this forum and I'm looking for some advice about my garden beds. Glad to have joined this community and be part of this great wealth of knowledge.

I've got a 2000 or so sq ft annual garden that consists of mounded beds. The beds don't have any side support (frames). This spring I had to spend a huge amount of time rebuilding as much of them had washed away. I'd like to hear peoples thoughts on keeping them from eroding and helping decrease the maintenance required to keep them in shape. We get really heavy and sometimes violent rains here in northern missouri.

I've done much heavier straw mulching this year and am planting cover crops of buckwheat in unused parts of the garden this summer as well as planting legume and rye covers over the fall and winter.

During the growing season I'm thinking about planting creeping thyme and other ground covers along the bottom edges of the beds as well as letting "weeds" grow here. The idea would be that the root structures of these plants would help keep the soil on the sides from washing away better than just mulching.

Any thoughts on what plants would be good for this ground cover (preferably flowering perennials)? Also any other ideas about how to keep these beds in shape would be much appreciated.

I'm not really interested in framing the beds at all , and would like an alternative solution to accomplish a similar thing.

Craig Dobbelyu

Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 850
Location: Maine (zone 5)
You can't go wrong with things like clover, thyme, Chamomile, oregano and other creepers. To avoid the errosion in the off season try cover cropping with winter wheat, buckwheat, clovers or vetch. Something that'll grow fast and provide nutrients when you eventually chop,n,drop or till it in in the spring. Try to keep something planted at all times to keep soil from running away on you. I'm sure there are a lot of options and you'll get plenty of advice here on Permies.

Welcome to the club

"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

Jay Green

Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
I agree! I keep my pathways permanently planted with grass/clover mix and just barely till a narrow strip at the top of my mounded beds to work in my cover. Then I plant and mulch heavily so there is no exposed soil in my garden at any time.
Alex Ames

Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 305
I have some erosion despite heavy mulching and having bunching onions galore on the sides of the beds.
However, it doesn't go far, just down into my paths which are heavily mulched with pine straw. In the fall
before the next batch of pine straw falls I pull the old back in the paths and scoop up a thin layer of good
dirt and throw it back onto the beds before I mulch them in wheat straw. I sometimes am short on wheat
straw and put on a cosmetic layer rather than a functional layer. That is when I get some soil loss.

[Thumbnail for IMG_1621.JPG]

Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
well your beds look lovely

are you doing edible forest gardening at all, or using perennials..if not that might be your answer.

If you use a no till method and try to add more perennials..you certainly could plant perennials along the edges of your beds to keep them in place. Here on my property where I'm dong most edible forest gardening, I plant perennials along the edges of my beds to not only keep the soil in place but also to prevent some weed encroacment into the garden, some are great barriers.

the photo above I might suggest planting along the edges things like chives and multiplier onions, clumps of rhubarb, some insectary plants like herbs, or just herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, etc.


Bloom where you are planted.
Alex Ames

Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 305
Brenda that picture shows a 3 year old pepper plant in the foreground of that bed. I am making a
perennial out of it by digging it up in the fall and putting it in a pot and leaving it in the garage by a window.
It gets nearly 6' tall and I prune it back down to the size it is now. All the big, old leaves have fallen
off at this point and it has some very small fruit set on it now in April. Just to see if it can be done.

This bed has just been adjusted to the size I intended. Last year it was too narrow. I think there is
an art to shaping beds so you don't lose soil. I am continuing to experiment. I have some spots in the
garden that are too steep and the straw slides off into the paths. I am using multiplier onions and chives
on some beds and have rosemary in the beds I am planting beans in hopes of warding off the mexican
bean beetles. Worked great last year or at least they didn't come around.
Jonathan Fuller

Joined: Feb 17, 2012
Posts: 29
I have not done this yet so I don't know if it will work but my plan is to fill my paths with wood chips so that the soil doesn't wash into them too much. I also left some grass on the edges of the beds hoping it would keep the shape solid and that seems to be working so far. I have not noticed much encroachment even from the bermuda.
Dr Temp

Joined: Jan 13, 2010
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
i was looking at something like a mondo grass/monkey grass/ophiopogon japonicus (as i salvaged some for free helping out family). you can look in well established yards and see which plants have done a good job of building up soil on one side of them. have to check out how they will compete and work into your garden.
Alex Ames

Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 305
Dr Temp wrote:i was looking at something like a mondo grass/monkey grass/ophiopogon japonicus (as i salvaged some for free helping out family). you can look in well established yards and see which plants have done a good job of building up soil on one side of them. have to check out how they will compete and work into your garden.

Mondo grass paths would be weird but it could work. It also will spread and encroach into your beds. I have
a good bit of it and wouldn't hesitate to use it in an extreme soil loss situation but it spreads rapidly and I have
no idea what it does for the soil other than hold it in place.
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subject: How To Keep Mounded Beds From eroding?
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