Planning new beds. Where to start?!

(3 Posts)
GruffalosDad Sun 21-Feb-16 15:46:48

We have a new build house, so the garden is very plain and boring at the moment and we need to make a start on adding some interest to it.

I'd love a garden full of interest and colour. But no idea where to start. There seem to be infinite possibilities for things to plant, which just makes it harder to work out what i should be starting with!!

We have (I assume) alkaline soil (we are on chalk with very little topsoil over). Currently the back garden is lawn.

Hoping to put some fruit trees in - probably against a south facing brick wall (ie our neighbour's garage). Think you can get varieties that stay fairly low and can be trained against the wall. Any tips on what's best? (prob about 3 trees - different fruits)

Want to put a bed in the front garden (east facing) under our front windows. A mix of green shrubs (& keen on reddish leaved things!) and flowering plants. Def would include some lavendar.

Any hints and tips on creating new beds around lawns & what to put in them would be gratefully received!!

PurpleWithRed Sun 21-Feb-16 15:56:51

If you have thin topsoil over chalk you are going to have to grow to suit that. RHS website has a plant finder to help.

In a free world my 3 x choice of fruit against a south facing wall would be fig, greengage and cherry but you’ll need to check for pollinators locally for the greengage and I don’t know how happy they’ll be on chalk. You could grow in pots but more work that way.

Make your beds deep enough to look good - a metre isn’t too much. And read gardening mags for inspiration!

shovetheholly Sun 21-Feb-16 15:59:57

Your big issue with your garden is that chalk and thin topsoil over it. I don't have much experience with chalky soils, but I'd suggest that the first job is really to dig out a bed, breaking up the chalk as much as possible, and then adding as much topsoil and compost as you can get in. If your top layer is really thin, this may mean constructing some fairly deep raised beds and bringing in extra soil.

Even then, you will need to look for plants that do well on very well-drained chalk, which narrows down your options a bit. Lavender should do alright, though! The RHS have a list of plants that don't mind your conditions here: www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=763

Your soil may restrict what you can grow, fruit-wise because quite a lot of fruit trees don't like chalk. You need to look for specific varieties that can tolerate it (have a Google!), and you need to pay attention to rootstocks - big, vigorous old ones like MM106 and above will tend to do better in your conditions than dwarfing varieties.

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