The landscape design for the back yard involved a central patio and walkways leading to the shed and the house. Once these were laid out with patio stones, we brought in truckloads of roadmix gravel to sculpt the beds.
Our experience with gardening in northern climates is that raised beds are an absolute necessity. The ambient temperature of the native soil at grade is simply not warm enough to sustain plants.
Raising the flower beds about 12” in height with gravel has the added benefit of providing excellent drainage.
Once we had the gravel base in place, the sides were held in with native stones collected from around the Whitehorse area. The final step is to cover the gravel with about 12” of topsoil.
Lots of shoveling, wheelbarrowing, raking and leveling. But it’s worth it in the end. Here’s an overhead view of the layout to the left of the patio.