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Huge bed

(9 Posts)
putputput Mon 13-Jul-15 15:03:09

The house we've moved in to has a huge raised flower bed out the front - we're talking 7metersx3,5meters. The soil doesn't look brilliant quality and it is currently covered by a few inches of old dried up bark and numerous weeds.
We are struggling with what to put in it. It needs to be relatively cheap, low maintenance, wide spreading but not going to grow too tall. Ideally something that looks nice all year round and can cope with being exposed - full sunlight and wind from all sides.
Initially we thought heathers but these aren't in season till winter. Any thoughts?

aircooled Tue 14-Jul-15 11:35:03

Ooh I love a blank canvas! With a bed that size you can have a good mix of plants but group them by variety rather than go for a 'dotty' effect. The low-growing ceanothus would look good (C. thrysiflorus repens) and judging by the postion/soil 'mediterranean' type shrubs would do well - cistus, cytisus, lavender, rosemary, purple sage, hebes etc.

Scrape off the old chippings, remove the weeds and improve the soil. You could put another layer of bark chips down to deter weeds but if you're thinking of planting now leave a space round each plant so you can water,water,water to help them establish. Places like B&Q and Homebase seem to have offers on good-sized shrubs.

NathalieM Tue 14-Jul-15 13:04:40

I believe pansies are relatively low maintenance and are resilient enough to last all year round! Spend some time cleaning up those bits and weeds covering the soil and you'll have some great space to make good use of.

NanTheWiser Wed 15-Jul-15 11:36:24

There are some nice prostrate conifers that will cover a good area, maintenance-free, and evergreen. Have a look here and see if anything appeals.

funnyperson Wed 15-Jul-15 16:21:44

Hoe out the weeds and leave the chippings to add structure to the soil and spread over a 4 inch layer of compost mixed with horse manure.
7m x3m is huge!
Whatever you plant needs to enhance yours and your neighbour's view of your home and make you happy, so its worth thinking carefully. What colours with go with your home that you like? Do you want a formal structured look or an informal naturalistic look?
You don't say whether this is a circular bed or linear with one side against a fence? Do you have alkaline or acid soil? Is it north or south facing?

Generally a mixture of flowering shrubs, herbaceous perennials, roses and spring and summer flowering bulbs could be good, but you might like the formal clipped round box ball/topiary look, or you might like the prairie grass look. Do visit gardens like Wisley or other RHS/NGS gardens in your area and you will get more of an idea of what you like.

A lot of people find it easy to think about autumn planting of spring bulbs, ie snowdrops, crocuses, chinodoxa, daffodils, tulips and forgetmenots, all of which you can begin to choose and order now to plant in September!

putputput Wed 15-Jul-15 20:29:51

Yes it is huge, hence I feel overwhelmed. It's disproportionate as the house and back garden are both tiny shoe box size. It is set slightly apart from the house - not attached to any fencing. It separates our little close from the road, so yes I want to make sure the neighbours will be happy. It is square at one end, oval at the other. Not sure about soil acidity.

I much prefer the natural look - definitely no topiary. Have looked at hebes, asas, dogwood etc. just feel unable to picture a combination that will work. Trip to wisley is a good idea.

Oh and I've been recommended to put a weed membrane down once the area's clear as the weeds are so horrific and established. Has anyone done this?

funnyperson Thu 16-Jul-15 00:59:13

Well I think it is nicer to plant plants, which then keep down weeds, rather than put plastic in your soil, which isnt biodegradeable.
You could plant magnolia, rhodedendron, azalea, pieris, acer, if your soil is ericaceous
You could plant edible flowering cherry, apple, pear, plum, damson, quince
Choose your dogwood carefully
You could plant bamboo, canna, agave, banana for a tropical look
You could plant roses

You can choose to plant in waves or blocks with repeating plants in waves or blocks through your beds. If you google piet oudolph there are some planting plans for the naturalistic look.

Pinkcloud6 Thu 16-Jul-15 16:52:12

I have some huge borders, I've planted them over three years ( it's very expensive otherwise)
Year one I've put it evergreens and ground cover plants.
Year two perennials/ bulbs
Year three annuals/ bulbs

I would recommend weed membrane with bark over. It will help keep it manageable and each year you can remove sections as you plant.
You do need a really good weeding session or you can use weed killer ( your choice) you also need a tonne of manure or top soil. Especially if you put membrane down as its hard to improve the soil after.

You are looking for year round colour and interest. The evergreens are often the boring purchases but best to get them growing first. If you have space / time/inclination perennials can be grown from seed.
Lupins, delphiniums, dahlias, aquilegia, scabious, daisies, clematis, echinacea will give you successional colour.

Pinkcloud6 Thu 16-Jul-15 16:56:14

And I'd say choose your bamboo very carefully you need a gold medal none invasive type.

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