Welcome to our small homestead in Sweden

Gardening with an excavator and two tractors


Large machines can be a huge asset when you have a garden, particularly when it comes to new constructions. I have frequently called my husband to aid me with our tractor. We have two old tractors, Fred and Lillebror, but we don’t have a digger. However, in 2022, we rented excavators to start our new build, and that turned out to benefit the garden too.

We started out in April, after Frank built some raised beds in our kitchen garden. He belted into the kitchen garden and tidied the levels and paths between the raised beds. Actually, we also used a digger when we created the levels for the beds the year before, since much of our kitchen garden is on a slope.


Removing Brambles and Searching for Boulders

In May, we continued with the creation of a place for a fire pit. Originally, I had planned the fire pit to be somewhere else but, as it is with our form of gardening, things evolve, and plans change. Sometimes the changes are due to how Frank interprets my plans.

To begin with, I wanted to create a woodland garden with shadow tolerant plants near the forest border. It is a logical choice since our garden borders to a forest and a low hill. Thus, the area loses sun early and, I envisioned large groups of rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas. Since shrubs take time to establish, I have  already planted a few, but I’m far from finished.


Before we could start, we had to remove an old hedge which had grown to impenetrable brambles. A few years earlier, we removed a tall lilac hedge, but now we let the rest go too. Fortunately, a friend was visiting, and she was eager to help.

We also received help from neighbours that let us collect boulders and gravel from their properties, for free. And our two old tractors managed the transportation.

Constructing a fire pit with an excavator

Our to-be-woodland-garden is located at the highest point in our garden (not the property). In my mind it would be a place where we can sit and enjoy the view to the garden. It is also a nice spot to have a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise in the morning. I asked Frank if he could create a circular patch for a seating area and, while I was away at work in Norway, he completed most of the work.

Having soil from digging out the foundations for the new build, he leveled the area so one side became about half-a-meter above the ground. He also found large boulders to edge the circle with, and voila; it became the perfect spot to enjoy our breakfast in the mornings. We decided to move our bon-fire-bowl to the spot, and since then, we have it enjoyed a lot.

I have planted a hew hedge in a semi-circle at the back, hoping it will define the area better. I also plan to edge the path with slightly smaller stones. Not to mention that there will be more plants over time.

The path in the woodland-garden-to-be

With the digger, Frank formed a path leading to our outhouses and two slightly raised areas for planting. Being outside what previously was part of the garden, weed have grown wild. To prevent the former shrubs and weed from returning, we have covered the ground in several layers of cardboard, as well as a thick layer of woodchips. So far, this appears to help for most of the weed, apart from bindweed, which I’m afraid we’ll have to struggle with. If anyone knows how we can get rid of them, advice will be highly appreciated.


Gardening with an excavator on top of Bedrock

The flower bed on the bedrock behind the house has been a challenge for a long time. Not knowing exactly what to do with it, I landed on creating raised beds with boulders. That will allow us to fill up with more soil, which hopefully will prevent roots from drying out.

Laying the edges for new flower beds

Moreover, we needed to remove the plants and the weed that had taken over the area. On top of that, I had waiting beds filled with plants in need of relocating. Again, the digger proved to be an asset when it came to removing soil and stones, as well as lining up the new beds with boulders.

I managed to relocate some shrubs and perennials before the frost, but there is more to do as soon as the ground thaws again.

A flower bed to be on top of bedrock
Removing plants with an excavator
Working with the excavator

Moving plants with an excavator

Some of the shrubs I had planted too closely together were too large to move with a shovel and pure manpower. Thanks to a mild Autumn, we found time to dig them up by the end of October. Again, we enjoyed the help of our friend and I am grateful that my plants now stand in a better location (fingers crossed). Hopefully, they will thrive in their new spots.

All in all, thanks to the machines, we’ve accomplished a lot. Sometimes, gardening with a excavator is necessary.

Relocating a shrub I have inherited
Two happy gardeners after work is done

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the spring so I can start moving smaller plants as well as tidying up after the digging. Then there are edges to form and seeds to sow, not to mention a building to finish. Now doubt we’ll be busy this year too.

The fire pit is perfect for roasting hot dogs.

By the way, we bought our fire-pit-bowl at Felleskjøpet in Norway. It came out as number two in a best in test survey, and you can even place it on a wooden deck. Unfortunately, I cannot find it in their product selection anymore, but there’s still a lot to choose from.

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