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Hugelkultur, meaning “hill culture” in German, is a method of raised bed gardening that uses decaying wood as a basis for building up a berm. Berms are useful in directing the flow of water, and protecting more delicate plants from prevailing wind damage.
For this simple hugelkultur garden, I have piled sticks and wood, covered them in compost, planted my shrubs, and mulched the resulting berm first with a layer of newspapers, and second with a layer of wood chips.
As the wood breaks down, it will create a rich soil with plenty of air pockets, allowing for excellent drainage and root penetration for the plants planted in the mound.
Hugelkultur raised beds are a form of “no-dig” garden (like the straw bale gardens) making them a good choice for those with impaired mobility or strength. They also sequester carbon, and provide a handy use for all of the trimmings from pruning and hedge maintenance.
My yard has poor drainage, so building up the soil is the only sustainable way to utilise the space without creating a pond. Hugelkultur beds provide exceptional drainage for plants that don’t like “wet feet” (ie. waterlogged root systems).
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