One of the most important features in my vegetable patch is that it has raised beds. I try to garden organically (in the main I achieve this, although if there is a particularly virulent attack of one insect I have been known to resort to chemicals) and raised beds fit with this like a hand and glove.
Perhaps I should explain the thinking behind raised beds and what they are. Raised beds are exactly what they say. They are beds which have been raised above the level of the rest of the garden. You can do this by just adding soil or compost in a certain area. It works but tends to get untidy and the soil creeps away. It is better to edge your bed with wood (or other materials). One of things you do is make them so that you can reach of them without stepping on them. This means the soil never gets compacted so it does not need digging.If you are going to be able to walk all around them, this means no wider than 4 ft. (a normal persons reach is about 2 ft.)
Once you have built your bed, you double dig it, then add compost or soil enricher and gently fork it in. In the future, all you will need to do is add compost and gently fork it in. Easy!
The benefits of Raised beds have now been recognised by some of the garden supply companies and you can now buy kits to make them. Check some examples here. This makes life much easier – no measuring and cutting, preserving and sanding. There are even Raised Bed kits which include caps on them. This is actually a good idea, as it makes a comfortable place to sit and rest for a few minutes – or even sit whilst you are planting.
I have talked of Raised beds in the vegetble patch, but there is no reason why you can’t use them in your ornamental garden. Just make sure that the soil is not to lose to hold your plants. (Brussel Sprouts often do not do to well in raised beds as they topple). Why not try making a Thyme seat in one.