Help my garden is terrible and I just don't know where to start!(12 Posts)
I really need some help but don't have a clue what I'm doing. Now the weather is getting better I would really love to be able to go out but my garden is a jungle
We moved in over a year ago and have managed to keep the lawn cut, and I did a LOT of work out there totally clearing a raised bed and planting some nice things but nothing grew! I was so disheartened and so I gave up I guess. Now it's all overgrown and horrible I don't even like looking out the window at it anymore, it makes me feel so sad
It's a small garden, mainly lawn (with weeds which just get cut when dh does the mowing), bushes (very overgrown) down one edge, a tree in the corner and a lovely raised bed (currently full of about 3foot high weeds).
So my question is where do I start?!?
Do I need to get a professional in to cut the tree, or is it ok to let it do it's thing?
What is easy to grow? (I tried basic veg - raddish, spring onion, lettuce leaves, etc - but nothing grew!)
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!
(I can put photos on later if that helps)
Why not try choosing one corner or one bed to focus on? Our garden was a jungle when we moved in and 6 years later it's looking pretty good but it takes time (and love). Trying to do it all at once will be disheartening.
The veggies may have failed if you planted in the wrong season, had the wrong conditions etc. The soil probably needs some good fertiliser to give it the nutrients that things need to grow. I'm a fairly good gardener but veggies scare me! They need a lot of care.
I would start by clearing and putting in plants that can more or less look after themselves, just while you clear the rest of the garden. That way you don't have to worry about the care that they need, the garden becomes more manageable but also starts to look better so you get some reward when you look at it.
Photos would help, also let us know what sort of weather it gets, if you are on a hill (means soil drains of water more quickly so they have to cope with it), type of soil if you can tell.
You sound just like me a couple of months ago. I'm a relative newbie to gardening too but can share whats helped me and kept me going?
I started on pinterest, if you get a board of all the things that you like, inspires you and you think you'd like to incorporate to your garden thats helped me tonnes. Next thing I did was make a plan, learn where the light is and the mostly shaded bits and that will help you decide where to place things if you want to add plants, take things out etc. Its a good idea to see what type of of soil you have too and if it needs improving. For me, we have two dcs so it was important to add a spece for all their
crap garden toys, I wanted to grow some fairly hardy fruit and veg and we still wanted lawn so a plan was essential.
The next bit for me was/is just getting stuck in. The best thing I can say is do a little at a time and keep looking at your end goal.
You'll get there, its just work and determination!
Veg gardening is actually one of the hardest things to get right outdoors. Veg need a lot of care, attention, carefully prepared soil, the right companion planting, lots of feed and water, and a lot of protection from all the things that eat and tear at them (which is just about everything). So please don't be disheartened that you didn't get it right first time around - most of us were exactly the same when we started. i don't know about the others - but I still have plenty of failures now!
Maybe start by getting some structure in so it's a bit more pleasant for you to look at. Have good look at what you have got in there already, the shrubs and the tree - try to identify them (we can help!), make a list, and work out whether you like them or not. Life is too short to put up with plants you dislike, so dig out anything you absolutely loathe. Then, when you have some names you can figure out what care each plant needs (heavy pruning by the sounds of things!), and when to do it - some can be cut back straight away.
The tree - what species is it? Do you like it? Does it serve a useful purpose for you? Is it the right height - and will it stay the right height or grow massively too big in 5 years? Is there something you'd prefer to see in the space? Does it shade your garden?
Once you've figured out what you've got, you can plan what you want to do - and here's where you need to get a bit technical, finding out the aspect of your garden, the soil type, the conditions (dry/wet etc). You can then find plants that will grow and thrive in the kind of garden that you have. It's much easier, especially when you're starting out, to work with nature than to try to grow things that are unhappy in the conditions you have.
Do put up some photos.
Do you have a skill you can trade off against garden design/work?
I did garden design/work for a mate offset against a massage. <Nothing pervy, you understand>
How much light does your garden has? That is one of the big issues, especially if it's small and mostly overshadowed it by the house.
I don't remember how many plants I killed trying to get them to thrive in bad conditions, as some point we hired a garden designer just to tell us what would grow in that soil and cold/dark conditions, and even so, half of those plants died as winter arrived.
I love my garden nowadays, rather than resorting to pretty flowers, I have a very architectural garden mostly filled with well manicured boxus, a Japanese tree to add colour and a carpet of very real looking astro turf.(i know it's cheating, but no one is checking)
Oh you are all wonderful people! You've cheered me right up
Thanks for all the advice. I'll try to answer your questions as best I can and I'll upload photos when I'm on the pc later.
The garden mostly gets sun in the afternoon/evening. In particular the flower bed only starts to get the sun at around 2pm.
Soil in the flower bed is horrible, all stoney and very clay like. Really hard to dig into.
I like the idea of trading skills with a gardener/designer. I'm a nanny so could easily offer childcare/babysitting, but how on earth do I go about finding a skills trade?! I'm also 38w pregnant so will be losing much of my spare time soon
I very much endorse what TheMother said. The overgrown bushes and tree may well be stopping a lot of light. Over several decades I lived in a fair number of rented houses and in each case restored the garden and in in nearly every case started by cutting back overgrown bushes and trees (sometimes with a tree surgeon helping). That really transformed the possibilities of what could be grown by allowing light in.
Shade makes gardening difficult. It kills lawns and stops low growing plants from thriving.
I did finally buy a house two years ago and I did nothing but weed in the first year. Then in January this year I totally cleared it, landscaped and laid a lawn in March. I planted roses, some hydrangea and summer bulbs in April. Now I am sitting back just keeping it well weeded, put on manure and compost to restore soil fertility and and keeping it tidy for one more year. I still have very few flowers but I have a nice lawn, proper beds and some tidy greenery. I will finish the planting next Autumn (spring bulbs) and more shrubs next spring.
It takes several years to establish a garden. It isnt an instant thing so can be quite disheartening. I would in your case just forget planting for now. Do a massive clearance, cut back bushes and tree, lay paths, pergolas, define areas, set out your beds and plan your planting. Then in Autumn, plant spring bulbs. Then when Spring comes along lay a new lawn with turf (March/April) and put in your main summer plantings. I chose summer bulbs, perennials, flowering shrubs, roses. Low level regular care and many years of enjoyment.
I'd start with the raised bed. Because it's a defined size, and pulling all the weeds out will turn the soil over nicely, and prob not take that long to do.
Then I'd plant potatoes (not a gardener, but in my experience they just grow and grow), and shove something pretty over the top of them (whatever's on offer at the garden centre).
Then you have one small patch of the garden which will look pretty, and whenever you have 5 minutes outside you can look at that bit and be happy, even when the rest is a mess.
It sounds like you need to do a lot of pruning/cutting back, so I'd maybe concentrate on that for this year. Cut the weeds in the raised bed short (or pull out the big ones and any that look like they have seeds on) and then cover it with thick cardboard weighed down with bricks and forget about it for now. Then get fairly aggressive with the bushes and cut them back - prune off the branches you don't need, or give the whole thing a trim over. What sort of tools for cutting do you have?
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