Best Way to Construct a Scree Bed in Your Garden

Rock gardens are expensive and time-consuming to construct, but you can swiftly bringthe distinctive flavour of alpine plants to your garden by making a scree bed. It is so much easier and cheaper to make than a rock garden, yet a scree garden still enables small bulbous plants, miniature conifers and dwarf rock garden plants to be grown with ease.

Choosing the site

If a rock garden is already in existence, position the scree bed at its base, so that it appears to be a natural extension, spreading out into a mushroom shape at its end. Alternatively, create a scree by the side of a path.

Scree Bed in Garden Best Way to Construct a Scree Bed in Your Garden

The essentials for a successful gravel garden are:

  • a sunny site away from overhanging trees
  • well-drained soil
  • an area free from perennial weeds
  • no wire-worms, cockchafer larvae or other soil pests.

A windbreak, perhaps formed of conifers, helps to protect alpine plants from cold winds.

Peat beds for woodland plants

Constructing a scree bed

The quick and easy way to build an alpine scree bed in your garden:

  • Dig out the area to 38cm (15m) deep and fill the base with 15cm (6in) of clean rubble. Ensure the roots of perennial weeds have been removed. Spread sharp sand over the rubble, forming a layer 5cm (2in) thick.
  • Over the sand spread a 15cm (6in) thick layer of compost, formed of one part clean topsoil, one of moist peat, and three of sharp grit.
  • Position a few rocks so that they appear to be natural outcrops. These help to give the scree bed height and permanency.
  • Firm the compost and plant a range of alpines. Then, carefully form a 2.5cm thick layer of 6mm shingle or chippings over the surface.

Scree Bed in Garden 1 Best Way to Construct a Scree Bed in Your Garden

Peat beds for woodland plants

Peat beds are ideal places for growing acid-loving woodland plants. Instead of being formed of rocks, peat beds are made out of peat blocks used in a similar manner to create stratified layers.

Peat blocks can also be used to form a low wall around the feature, although on steep slopes old railway sleepers or planks nailed to stout upright posts often work better, as they are less likely to fall away from the peat bed.

Plants to consider using in peat beds include astilbe, azalea, cassiope, dodecatheon, gaultheria, some primulas and autumn-flowering gentians.

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