how do I make my garden nicer?

(34 Posts)
mrsbug Fri 11-Apr-14 14:59:47

I have a tiny (20 square foot) garden which faces north and gets very little sun.

Currently it is a bit of a mess - about half of it is a 'lawn' (moss and dandelions, I think it might be too shady for grass), there are borders around it with pretty much no plants, just lots of snails and cat shit. There are also bits of broken pottery and the odd bit of broken glass mixed in there.

I have a 15 month old dd and would like her to be able to play out in the garden. What is the easiest thing to do to make it safe and attractive for her to play in? I am quite tempted to pave over the whole thing but it seems wrong somehow, and I do like the idea of an actual garden with things growing in it.

Our neighbours' gardens are mostly paved over so I wonder if this is the only option...

In case you hadn't guessed, I know nothing about gardening - this is the first place I have lived with a garden since I left my parents house several decades years ago.

yummymumtobe Mon 14-Apr-14 08:53:01

I feel sad that north facing gardens are being written off by some as only worthy of paving! We have a north facing garden - we do get sun at certain parts of the day (we're in London and lucky to have a garden really!) As has been said above, go to a garden centre and ask advice about plants. We have tons of shrubs and flowers so it's certainly not the case that nothing will grow! Bark is definitely a good idea for areas with not much growing in (yet). The thing with gardens is to 'own' them. We always used to this our garden wasn't very pretty, needed lots of pruning, had a tatty old shed etc. Then we just got out there and weeded, collected snail shells, painted shed, got pretty chair cushions etc.

You mention dd - why not get a little Wendy house? Or a sand and water table.

Please don't pave - it just looks so miserable and also - I think- makes the gardens look smaller. Neighbour one side of us is paved and it somehow makes it look like a little yard whereas grass and shrubs make ours look like a longer, wide space.

ZenGardener Mon 14-Apr-14 13:52:01

Make sure to get a sand pit with a cover if there are a lot of cats about.

mrsbug Mon 14-Apr-14 17:18:23

Just to say thanks for the ideas, I am loving the suggestions. I think we will try to go to a garden centre over the bank holiday weekend and get some ideas of plants.

yummy I like the idea of the sandpit although it would definitely need to be covered or it would be a cat toilet.

Balloon I mean 20 ft long, by about 15 foot wide - maths was never my strong point blush

Bearleigh We have no worms, just lots of snails. Is manure a good idea with a toddler around?

Shoe we have been here three years. In the height of summer, half of our garden gets some sun in the mornings and evenings; the other half is always in shade.

Pannacotta Mon 14-Apr-14 17:49:22

Perhaps get a few books from your local library (or cheap on Amazon) to give you some ideas as you have enough room to make it a really nice outdoor space.
Some good ones here
www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=small+gardens

Also have a look here for inspiration (similar sized plot to you)
martyncox.biz/Gardeners_World_Mag_Sept09.pdf

Pannacotta Mon 14-Apr-14 17:53:08

and I really agree with the advice on "owning" the space, even if you only make small steps to improve it, it will start to feel more like yours and this will spur you on.
I'd get some garden furniture and pretty solar fairy lights too.
Good luck and post back if you need plant advice etc.

funnyperson Wed 16-Apr-14 00:02:34

Climbers for north facing shade on clay soil
honeysuckle
rosa alfred carriere
clematis wisley cream
clematis helsingborg
garrya ellliptica
hydrangea petiolaris
Mahonia japonica
Tall plants for shade
Digitalis alba
Acanthus mollis
Gunnera (huge leaves huge plant)
Daphne
Medium plants
Gaura
Deutzia
Japanese anemones
Hydrangeas (esp snowball;could try lacecap)
Astrantia
Hosta (if damp)
Sanguisorba
geranium pheum
geranium roxanne
geranium johnsons blue
phlox
campanula
alliums
grasses eg miscanthus
chinese lanterns
front of border
snowdrops
crocuses
daffs, tulips
forgetmenots
saxifrage
violas
middle of garden
lawn with shade loving rye grass
camomile lawn
knot garden
japanese gravel (not so great for toddlers
sandpit (with lid to keep off cats at night)
sunken trampoline (with lid)
rotary washing line with paved circle.

funnyperson Wed 16-Apr-14 00:10:51

Look at these sites for plant ideas

www.plantsforshade.co.uk/?gclid=CPLexZDN470CFe6WtAodOTEAZg

www.endcottage.co.uk/longstonehardyplants/shade_lovers.htm

Choose pale coloured flowers for really shady spots. Choose bright oranges and reds and purples for part shaded spots to give the garden some colour. Choose blues where you want to make something look further away. LIme green scented flowers like nicotiniana can be good too.

Get rid of the catshit and broken pottery and don't plant any poisonous plants. Dig beds all round even to 18 ins will be good to start with and put compost down before you plant and plant all plants in nice big holes filled with a good organic peat free compost to give them a good start in life.

lolalotta Wed 16-Apr-14 06:41:50

What about something like this beautifully shapedpaved garden with boarders? you could plant shade loving plants! grin

funnyperson Wed 16-Apr-14 20:29:52

When I looked at that garden lolalotta I realised that if you sat on the nice looking seat what you actually would see would be bare fence and nothing else. It looks good from above but what would it actually be like to sit in? I think climbers are important to get in first, preferably ones with pale flowers and scent, the lighten up the area and because then one wouldnt have to trample all over their roots to plant in front.

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