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Does anyone love designing gardens for total strangers? <hopeful>

(17 Posts)
ThereMustAndShallBeTea Mon 19-May-14 11:29:55

Hello wise vipers. I'm in need of garden design advice from anyone who is good at this kind of thing. Our garden is about 12x14 m and faces west. Would like a bit of space for veg beds and greenhouse, plus max space for small DC to play. We already have a huge swing set.

Can post more details/plan/photos if anyone can help, just need to go break up a fight. Thank you.

EauRouge Mon 19-May-14 13:32:06

Photos would be good, especially ones taken at different times of day so you can see which bits get the sun and which bits are shadier. What's your soil like?

Liara Mon 19-May-14 19:48:12

I love this kind of thing!

I second EauRouge's questions. Also, is it on a level or is there a slope?

ThereMustAndShallBeTea Tue 20-May-14 00:11:08

Oh thank you so much! Will hopefully have attached photos to this.

It pretty much gets no shade at all, ever.

Soil - not sure, sorry. Haven't planted a huge number of things. We have a sage plant that is unbelievably happy, if that helps ... ?

It is theoretically level but actually quite uneven - we've just had a one storey extension built with French windows and bifold doors; from the French windows, it's only a couple of inches to step down onto the lawn, whereas from the bifolds it's just under a foot. Not really sure how to flatten it.

I apologise for how totally shit it looks in the photos, I'm a bit horrified! We've just had building work done so has had no attention at all plus lots of stuff dumped in it.

When we moved in, the garden was mainly lawn, bisected by a concrete path, which had two cypresses (I think) at the end of it, one on each side. We took these out, as they were ugly, mainly dead, and full of spiders. Each lawn has a ditch all the way round it, about 6 inches deep, presumably once flower beds (the house had been unoccupied for a bit when we bought it) but now just used for tripping unsuspecting toddlers.

For the past couple of years, we've had a clothes line along the path, then the left hand (from the house) lawn was used for play and the right hand lawn had veg beds and briefly (before death by hurricane) a cheap greenhouse. However, we have completely neglected it for the past 6 months or so plus the extension has obviously eaten up a bit of garden.

My plan is to get rid of the path, which now serves no purpose, and which I think will make it look bigger. New, more robust fence between us and next door. Something immediately outside the new doors - preferably flags (if we can deal with the fact it's so uneven), possibly decking for ease - not loads, basically just because we need a step down from the bifold doors. Some sort of shade - thinking possibly a triangular shade sail, with two corners attached to the house and the third to the swing set or a tall post in the new fence. Get rid of the massive quantities of rubbish strewn around (and the pile of dirt! - intended to fill in some of the ditches).

We have a (new, to us) greenhouse that needs to go somewhere and DH would like somewhere to grow veg, but I feel we don't need an entire lawn dedicated to this - perhaps some long beds down one side or the back? My priority is to maximise space for the kids to play. Not that you can tell from the photos, but we actually have an amazing view across rolling fields to the hills beyond, so wouldn't want to do anything to block this out, but don't mind tall planting down the side between us and neighbour (neighbour may not agree).

Immoveable things: shed to the side of the house, massive swing set (though isn't concreted in or anything so technically moveable, but would be a nightmare), (badly placed) apple tree just behind the swing set.

Spent all our savings on building so budget is more or less non-existent.

Photos are:

view from the house showing path and swings. Large den to the left isn't usually there (but is table and bench that need to go somewhere), was trying to entertain poorly DD!

view from end of garden looking back towards the house

view from the side showing the shed

my badly drawn not to scale plan

Sorry this is so long!

ThereMustAndShallBeTea Tue 20-May-14 00:43:17

Badly drawn plan

EauRouge Tue 20-May-14 06:47:50

Ooh, a (almost) blank canvas grin If it were me, I would have the veg in raised beds at the end of the garden next to the greenhouse; herbs around the patio near the house (easy to nip out and snip some while you're cooking); beds around the edge of the lawn. Is that the apple tree next to the path? I'd probably have a small seating area or bench at the end of the garden too, somewhere peaceful where I could sit and enjoy the view.

If you want a bit of privacy from your neighbour without it looking too much like you never want to see them again, a fence with a trellis top is good. You can grow climbers then but still see your neighbour through the gap if you want to say hello (and pretend you haven't seen them if you don't).

For shade, if a sail doesn't work out then a pergola with a climber is another option, then you can pretend you're in the Med.

A few plants are very fussy about soil and you can adapt the soil in places or grow in pots, but I'm lazy and prefer to grow things that like my soil as it is.

ProfessorDent Tue 20-May-14 15:34:50

Do you know what, that is the first time I have seen a photo on Mumsnet.

ThereMustAndShallBeTea Tue 20-May-14 19:05:26

It's a new innovation, Professor!

Thanks, Eau, broadly what I was thinking. I don't think the neighbours would mind a tall fence - they seem to spend a lot of time sitting behind their washing when we're all outside, probably coincidence ... ;)

Liara Tue 20-May-14 19:31:16

That could be really nice! Your extension looks lovely too.

I would have the veg along the edge between the shed and the greenhouse - that way they don't ruin your nice view at the end (some people may be able to make veg plots look nice, but for much of the year they look quite messy).

I think a new fence would be great, and what could look really fantastic there is zig-zag shaped beds - not sure how to describe it, but imagine a series of overlapping triangles next to the fence, so the bed is deeper in some areas and fairly narrow in others. Gives you the possibility of putting some larger plants in, without having to have a border so large it eats up the whole lawn.

Annuals which are easy to grow from seed are great fillers if money is short. You can buy a few anchor plants which you can get quite small, and while they grow you can fill around them with annuals. Also do have a go at taking cuttings from any plant you buy. I always cut them back a bit and stick the cut out bits in pots, you'd be amazed at how many take. Having several plants of each type can really help unify the planting, and that is a very good way of getting them.

Parietal Tue 20-May-14 19:58:59

I once saw a family garden done with climbers on the fence, then a narrow path all around the edge, then beds (mix of borders & veg) then lawn in the middle. With benches and little stopping points along the path, it made a lovely walk an much more interesting for play (eg hide & seek) than just a big lawn. I'd do similar if I had a big enough garden.

ThereMustAndShallBeTea Wed 21-May-14 00:33:29

Thanks - I just feel it's a bit dull, would love some hidden nooks and corners! Wonder if I could do something in front of the swings, they are quite ugly and spoil the view any way - maybe a little willow tunnel or something?

My mum is a plant nut and works in a nursery (plant not children) so good for cuttings etc.

Would love a pergola! Thought it might take up too much room though.

BlackeyedSusan Wed 21-May-14 18:50:11

I was going to suggest moving the swings but they are going to be there for a shorter period than the greenhouse. the greenhouse will be the first thing to place. possibly in the northwest corner. however, you then dsort of fill two ends of the garden with thingschildren can not play near.. ie windows and greenhouse. do you want to spend a good 10 years telling them to mind the greenhouse? it is grim for them too.

I would be tempted to put itbetween the shed and house. it is also a pain in the neck to trail out to the greenhouse several times a day to adjust the ventilation light heaters in winter. they are not exactly pretty are they?

Mini05 Wed 21-May-14 20:30:30

Any help here too!!!

I hate the garden towards to far end, it's bushes are a mix not like the beech hedging down both sides.
We get the sun at the far end and left side till 2 ish then on the right side and patio till late evening.

It can become damp, think that may be the bushes?
Just don't know where to start, years are going by and it's still the same as I don't know what to do.

Any help please

GrendelsMinim Sat 31-May-14 08:29:41

Mini05 - So what you've got at the moment is the beginnings of a shrub border, with a camellia, an acer, and something that might be a choisya. They'll all grow over time and you'll have much less blank space.

The shrubs don't have anything to do with it being damp. Is it very very damp a lot of the year? Are you actually talking about a bit of a bog? In which case, the shrubs may be struggling to cope, as they'll effectively be drowning in the wet soil.

What is it that you don't like about the area at the moment? Do you think that it looks a bit bare? If so, you can plant up some perennial plants around the shrubs to fill in space, and perhaps gradually remove a few of them as the shrubs get bigger.

You probably have acid soil, so that will influence the plants you can choose - you can pick the acid lovers if you see that on a plant label.

I often use crocus.co.uk for planting suggestions and adapt one of their border suggestions. The plants are rather randomly priced, though - some things are very expensive for what they are and some very good value, so I'd check at your local plant nursery first, and then order from crocus if they're cheaper. Do make sure that you buy the variety suggested (I.e. if the camellia suggested is 'anticipation', then buy 'anticipation', not a random variety of the same plant.)

ThereMustAndShallBeTea Sun 16-Jul-17 11:22:18

Sorry to bump a zombie thread, but just went looking for my old photos and thought I'd update!

When I posted, we'd spent two years living in a house that looked like a squat, too embarrassed to have people round, and then it was sorted - yay! - but the garden looked like a death trap so still too embarrassed 🙈

Since then we've ditched several skip loads of rubbish, flattened the lawn and put in an in ground trampoline, a pergola, a patio and a very overgrown flower and veg bed. Oh, and a half built mud kitchen. And finally we can have people round 😁

Alcea Sun 16-Jul-17 14:34:59

Fabulous transformation OP!

eastwest Mon 17-Jul-17 12:09:43

Wow, looks great! About to post on the same topic myself...

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