What kind of soil should I use and which plants should I plant in my new garden bed?


Hello! I just created a new garden bed in my backyard. I put in soil, cow manure, and another project. I have a few questions…
1. What kind of soil should I be putting in it and how much (how deep should it be)?
2. I put limestone screening under the bricks but also put landscape screening to hopefully keep it out if the garden. Is landscape screening enough to do the trick. I know limestone screening is harmful to plants but the garden bed is put in temporarily so I couldn’t use concrete.
3. I want to create privacy from the niebours with tall beautiful plants to block the view. What would you suggest that grows relatively quickly and has beautiful bloomage. It gets some sun but more shade will be created once the tree to the left starts blooming. I’ve just started to get interested in gardening so maybe plants that are easy to take care of could be good.
I was thinking maybe for Cynthia?


I believe that you are asking about soil and screening in relation to a raised garden bed, although this is not entirely clear from the information you provide.

Soil:  Here are some excellent resources that answer your question about the kind of soil to use and depth:

  • Toronto Master Gardeners. Ask a Master Gardener. Soil for raised vegetable bed.  Note that I’ve updated the (broken) link to the University of Maryland Extension’s Soil to fill raised beds.  You can find additional articles on raised bed gardening on the Ask a Master Gardener website, just by searching using the word “raised”.
  • Oregon State University Extension Service’s Raised bed gardening.

Limestone screening and Landscape screening:  As for the limestone screening, this type of fine gravel makes a nice base for a paved garden path.  You’re right, limestone is very alkaline and will increase the pH of the soil, so could interfere with the ability of some plants to absorb nutrients.  You can test your soil for pH to help determine if there is too much limestone near the garden bed – your local nursery should have soil testing kits available.  If you will be replacing the limestone screening, I’d suggest gravel that is road-construction grade, along with fine particles between 1-2 millimetres in diameter.  This will form a solid sub-base under your bricks.

Landscape fabric, which I believe you used as your “landscape screening” material, is usually used to control weeds, as opposed to preventing alkaline leachate from the limestone escaping into the garden.  However, there are different types of landscape fabrics.  For example, woven fabrics are permeable and would allow water, nutrients and leachate from limestone screening to get through to the soil.  Non-woven fabrics are less permeable, and some are quite heavy-duty so may prevent leachate from the limestonescreening from reaching the garden soil.  I’m not sure which type of landscape fabric you used.

Privacy shrub: Lastly, you ask for suggestions for lovely, fast-blooming plants that are tall enough to block the view to your property, for at least a part shade area on your property line.   Forsythia, which you mention, is a great choice, and grows 60 cm (2 feet) a year, up to a height of around 10 feet.  It blooms early in the growing season (around now), so its blooms would not be affected by the shade from nearby trees, which likely have not started to leaf out or bloom.  For the remainder of the growing season, the forsythia would have a lovely green foliage until late autumn.  The shrub tolerates part shade, and needs well-drained soil.

See Blooming deciduous trees and shrubs: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide for further ideas on appropriate shrubs for your garden.  I’d suggest that you speak with someone at your local nursery about additional options for a privacy shrub that meets both your needs and the conditions (sunlight, space, etc) your garden offers.   You may also want to consider a nice evergreen hedge, although these won’t have beautiful blooms!

All the best with your garden bed!

April 27 2021