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Can you grow other stuff in a lavender bed?

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Can you grow other stuff in a lavender bed?

Our landlords tried to make our rental property's garden low-maintenance by filling it the beds with all kinds of perennial shrubs and small trees. Unfortunately they planted everything really close together and it's caused all kinds of problems -- things under trees not getting enough light, things next to each other competing, the whole garden just not being very drought resistant. We've seen several of the shrubs die, including a few of the lavender bushes that are grown in a row under my bedroom window. There are now gaps in that bed, like missing teeth.

While I like lavender as much as the next proto-Nanna, I don't need that much of it, so rather than replanting more lavender there, my thoughts have turned to planting other things in the gaps. Other useful or edible things. However, the soil in the gaps is dry, compacted, and generally unpleasant-looking. Even the lawn nearby never seems to thrive.

Today I threw a thick layer of mulch (raked autumn leaves) down in the gaps and was thinking of repeating that over the next few months and seeing whether I could make anything of it in the spring. However, I'm wondering whether the lavender itself is going to cause a problem. Is the lawn a hint of what will come if I try planting there?

The largest gap is about a metre across, between two metre-wide/metre-high lavender bushes. The bed is not quite a metre deep, from the lawn to the wall of the house. It has full sun but doesn't get much rain as it's partly under the eaves of the house. I was thinking of sticking some sunflowers in there, and maybe growing some scarlet runner beans up them and something sprawly at their base, either a squash (if I can get enough nutrients into them) or some nasturtiums. What do you think?

Crops mentioned in this post

Lavandula spp.
Helianthus annuus
lifespan 98 days


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Posted by lauredhel on April 28, 2013 at 10:14 and edited at May 27, 2019 at 22:24

Are you after some herbs? Our lavender bed, which has rubbish soil, grows vigorous rosemary as well. With a touch of soil improvement, you could maybe add oregano and garlic chives. Sunflowers and nasturtiums should be ok, too, but I'm not sure about beans - in my experience, they're a little more demanding.

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Posted by neotoma on April 28, 2013 at 14:16 and edited at May 27, 2019 at 22:24

My mother has a bed that has lavender, rosemary, and sage all growing together. They all tolerate fairly dry conditions and crappy soil, so maybe rosemary and sage in your bed would work.

You might look at Mediterranean gardens for inspiration.

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Posted by maco on June 06, 2013 at 15:04

If you do the beans thing, can you plant them in the autumn and cull them before they actually produce in spring? That should fix more nitrogen to the soil (from what I understand, if you let them go to bean, they'll use up the nitrogen they'd pulled out of the air) which might help get the soil into a workable state.

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Posted by Skud on June 07, 2013 at 01:43

Well, it's already winter... but in theory, yes?