David Sund’s elegant garden

  • To begin, scoop out soil to make a shallow trench the width of the brick. Contributed Photo/David Sund

  • Use a brick to scrape and smooth the base of the trench. Contributed Photo/David Sund

  • Cut and fold plastic sheet and put in the trench, then put bricks in place. Contributed Photo/David Sund

  • A view of the bricks waiting for play sand to lock them in place. Contributed Photo/David Sund

  • A completed brick edge provides a finished look around Sund’s garden. Contributed Photo/David Sund

  • David Sund. For the Recorder/Pat Leuchtman

Published: 8/17/2020 9:21:40 AM

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 nurture 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 who took 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 implements the idea, ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ This holds true for the plants that have come into his garden from friends who had multiplied 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 was 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 layout curved lines with a garden hose.

2. Using a half-moon edger, cut an edge along the line or hose.

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.

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 fingernails.

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.

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-by-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.

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.

Edging planting beds with bricks certainly makes for an elegant and finished look.

Thank you, David Sund.

Pat Leuchtman has been writing and gardening since 1980. Readers can leave comments at her website, commonweeder.com.

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