Reasons to Dig in a ‘No Dig’ Garden

I’ve already spoken before on this site about the concept of a ‘no dig’ garden. In a no dig garden, the key is to create and manage growing areas so that we disturb the soil ecosystem as little as possible (and take steps to improve it).

This involves strategies like making lasagna gardens, hugelkultur mounds or straw bale beds rather than tilling the land. And involves plenty of organic mulch – that is usually laid on top of the soil surface. Rather than being incorporated by the gardener, in a no dig garden the organic material is naturally incorporated through the agency of wildlife, and natural processes involving soil biota.

But there are times to dig in a garden – even one in which you plan to take a ‘no dig’ approach. Here are some very good reasons to reach for a spade in a ‘no dig’ garden:

  • To add drainage channels to direct water to where it is required or to move it away from where it is not wanted.
  • In order to make terraces to make the most of a sloping site.
  • To make on-contour swales and berms to retain water and nutrients on the land.
  • In creating a rain garden to manage water from your roof.
  • To create a basin or reservoir of water for fire control purposes or garden irrigation.
  • For the creation of a wildlife pond to boost biodiversity in your garden.
  • In order to dig foundations for a garden building that will allow you to live in a more sustainable way. (I’ll cover some ways a garden building could help you live more sustainably in tomorrow’s post.)

Earthworks are often overlooked when people start planning a new garden. But they can be of great help in manipulating and managing the landscape in a sustainable way, could could help you improve results long term.

If you would like help to design earthworks and planting schemes for your garden, I can offer my design services to help you set out in the right direction.

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