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David Sund, Designer and Gardener Gives a Lesson

David Sund on his patio

David Sund’s elegant and productive garden was on the Greenfield Garden Club’s Tour earlier this summer. On the tour map he described his garden as having undergone changes and updating over recent years. Last weekend we visited and talked about the lives of gardens.

When he was just a lad in 1973, Sund’s father took the family to Tennessee to live, but it did not take long to find out Tennessee was not the place for them. Instead they moved to Greenfield where grandparents and other family members lived.

Sund still lives in the family house which was a wreck when they moved. “The four layers of wallpaper was all that held the walls together,” he said. And so began years of rebuilding, and renewing.

There was also work to do outside. In those days there were a number of glass houses that ran across several backyards including  theirs. In the spring plants were replanted in outdoor beds and put up for sale. There was a history of gardens and plants on Vernon Street. Sund said his grandmothers had wonderful flower gardens and his father was one of the first taking to organic gardening.

“I grew up gardening,” Sund said. “My father used composting to improve the soil and leaves were used as mulch. Once work on the house was completed, I wanted to do more than raise vegetables. I made two rectangular beds for other plants in the back yard.” His interest in design and the many types of plants for a garden began at an early age.

As we talked Sund said that his current garden is all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This holds true for the plants that have come into his garden from friends who had multiplying and divided plants, for patio furniture that needed a new home and other treasures. David also regularly shares his plants, but, alas, not this pandemic year.

Before he was a professional gardener he worked at a small local private school as both headmaster and kindergarten teacher. Of course he had a garden to care for as well. He said his day began with work at school, then work in his garden followed by supper, and finishing the day’s school homework. But he was always helping others in their gardens when he could. In 2003 his sabbatical from the school led him to a full time professional life as garden designer as well as gardener.

While surveying Sund’s garden many of us tour gardeners were particularly attracted to the hardscaping and brick edgings on his beds. They were beautiful and neat, with no encroaching weeds. This was amazing to all of us. Fortunately, Sund is happy to share this technique with all of us. It takes very few tools and materials

  1. Drive stakes to string a taut line along the ground, or lay out curved lines with a garden hose.
  2. Using a half moon edger, cut an edge along the line or hose.

    With a flat bladed shovel, scoop out a trench the thickness of a brick on it’s side.

  3. If cutting and lifting turf, use a spading fork to lift the sod, shaking out the soil into a wheelbarrow (to be added to raised beds. Add the remaining mat of grasses to the compost pile.
  4. With a flat bladed shovel, careful not to disturb the lower soil, scoop out a shallow trench to the depth of the width of a brick.

    Slide a brick across the bottom the trench, smoothing the bottom, and check for depth.

  5. Using a brick, sliding/scraping it along the base of the trench, smooth its base making sure that the brick isn’t lower than the base of the turf, or standing too proud of the soil level (or your mower blade will resent your efforts).
  6. Cut a 20 inch strip off of the roll of plastic. It’s folded before it’s rolled onto a tube. Now unfold the cut section which yields a long strip. Fold that strip in half, length-wise, creasing it as you fold, between your finger nails.
  7. Place the double thickness of plastic in the trench, with the fold against the top of the cut edge of the trench, keeping the fold just below the top of edge. It won’t be visible after the bricks are placed, and will serve as a weed barrier, keeping the grass from migrating into the cracks between the bricks.

    The folded edge of the plastic in the trench.

  8. Place the brick firmly against the plastic lined, front edge of the trench, and tightly together. If you are using recycled or reclaimed brick, they may be different in length and/or width. Adjustments can be made with a small trowel (adding or removing a bit of soil, preferably under the plastic).
  9. Using a heavy hammer and scrape of 3×3 lumber, you can tamp down the brick, for a smooth top, along which you can run the wheels of your mower. Don’t try using the hammer directly on the bricks, or they will break.
  10. Backfill the bed side of the edging with some of the garden soil.

    Bricks before filling, soon to add sand to lock them in place.

  11. Sweep play sand into the cracks between the bricks, helping to lock them into place and ward off weed growth.

To keep the edge looking crisp and clean, after mowing David uses a string trimmer with the trimmer head perpendicular to the brick edge.

The finished edge!

Edging planting beds with bricks certainly makes for an elegant and finished look. Thank you David Sund!

Between the Rows  August 15, 2020

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