This year it is the garden... Help / advice needed(10 Posts)
This year I am determined to get the garden into order. I have in my mind a beautiful cottage garden, but am realistic to know this is just not going to happen.
We are East West facing - and not many surrounding houses so both the back & front get sun for most of the day, but in winter it is a frost hollow. The soil is very clayey (mixed with builders rubble & subsoil) and can get really waterlogged. I have more invasive weeds than I know what to do with - mares tail, brambles, couch grass, dandylions, willow herb, nettles & dock and others that I haven't yet identified. Neither the back or front garden are huge - 10-15m x 25m each.
The back garden is mainly patio - I would like to keep it but have beds around the outside. In an ideal world I would like a pizza oven / BBQ for summer entertaining.
The front garden has 2 raised beds (2m x 4m)- they are for vege, but due to a lack of time I put strawberries and raspberries in them. I would like to put vege back in. We have a small apple tree (dwarf rooting stock so shoulder high) that is falling over and a victoria plum tree that is getting too big for its boots.
First of all - where do I start? Will I need to dig up all the plants I want to keep before dousing in chemicals or should I give them all up as a bad job? Also when is it realistic to start this so I don't compact the soil any further?
Where is a good place to get compost - I am on a budget, but nothing is going to grow unless the soil is improved.
What plants are cheap and low maintenance and look good? I am open to ideas on garden style, however it is a rural loction so ultra modern might look a little out of place... I was thinking a large herb garden at the back.
Has anyone got any tips on low maintenance gardening? I work full time so will only have weekends to do any of it - although I am going to get dh to do the heavy work re- landscaping.
Thanks in advance
You say your garden is not huge, but it does seem quite large for the amount of work you have to do. When a job is overwhelming it can be disheartening when every thing you clear gets covered in weeds quite quickly.
My advice would be to put up some trellis screening half way down the garden. Then this year I would work only on the area in front of the screening. Trellis about 6 feet by 8 feet.
Clear and improve part of the soil, the area you can see from the house, but for a cottage garden don't make it too rich. Calendula, lavetera, poppies, marigolds, cornflowers all do better in poor soil. Seeds are relatively cheap. In front of the trellis you could plant clematis and climbing roses, also sweet peas and morning glory.
As you are at work all week you need stuff that is easy to maintain. The seeds will need watering to begin with, but will look after themselves after that. Also they will make seeds for next year when you start on the rest of the garden.Gardening should be a pleasure not a chore. So start small, invest your time and money in making a little area beautiful.
I think that is the problem - there is sooooo much to do. I will try the bit at a time method. I will crack this....
I have buy in from the kids - so they can water the seeds. It is a good omen that you suggested sweet peas - My MIL has got me a subscription to Gardeners World magazine & it came with a free packet.
If you would like a project for your children this is something they can start in early February Collect up toilet roll holders and put them in a small plastic tub. . I find the soap capsule tubs ideal? Fill with some garden compost. Make the soil quite wet. Then plant 3 seeds in each roll. Keep them in a cold porch and they will sprout in about 4 weeks . In spring move them outside, make drainage holes in the tub, put in some canes and tie them in as they grow. Depending where you live they can be planted out April to May.
Pinterest is your friend when it comes to finding out what you like, and what you don't like. If you search for low maintance garden it gives you loads of lovely ideas.
Personally I'd be thinking of grasses and shrubs.
Don't bite off more than you can chew! (Metaphor - Don't eat your garden).
You need to be able to keep on top of the gardening. If not, the jobs that need doing just grow exponentially until you lose heart and give up. Go for grass and patio and create beds/areas over the years.
As well as sowing seeds, I would save time by planting lots of reliable perennials - easily begged as divisions or self sown seedlings from friends and neighbours. Astrantia, campanula, geranium, helenium, delphinium, heuchera, phlomis, aster, aquilegia, pulmonaria etc will all combine beautifully when you have dug out those horrible weeds - try not to use chemicals. Not sure about the marestail though, I haven't had to contend with that. Look out for Spring charity/church plant sales, plenty of easy to grow stuff at silly prices.
Best place for herbs is near the back door /BBQ so you haven't got to trek far when you're cooking.
I really like the suggestion that you do small sections at a time- it will give you a sense of achievement. On a readymade theme- I am overseas and my garden is in UK - so I was going to use these people
to give me a head start when I am
home for the summer. Maybe focus on the infrastructure bit this year and don't worry about raising all the veg yourself.
Raised beds can look really good and solve the problem of soil quality - although we built a really tall one and it took ALOT of soil. Bought topsoil from travis Perkins and horse poo from lady down the road. There are some council compost schemes where you can get compost cheap from their household waste recycling schemes. Our reused bed wraps round a bench so it's part of the decorative bit of the garden as well.
One very low maintained area we put in which worked out was a gravel / paving slab alpine area. Sand layer, cheap grey slabs just pushed into the sand, gravel on top between the slabs and then planted the hell out of it with creeping thyme and various alpines like saxifrage etc. Bought alpines when they were very small and relatively cheap and went for ones that low grow and spread. Really quickly they have covered most of the gaps between the slabs and very pretty when it all flowers. Ours is on a seating area round a firepit thingy but in a previous garden we did the same as a path. Once it's in - very low maintenance- weeds generally kept down as the plants make such a thick mat between the slabs.
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