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Rented property and low cost garden maintenance advice needed!

(37 Posts)
coveredinsnot Tue 28-Jul-15 20:59:25

We rent. It sucks. We have a small front garden which is very low maintenance (some bushes and gravel and the occasional bag of dog shit passers by seem to like to lob in there every now nd then - delightful. We do remove those!). Quite a few weeds too. The rear garden is a mess. Lawn (bit patchy) two neglected vegetable beds, and borders with very hard soil. A wild, neglected area at the back which is fairly hidden from view so we ignore it. Not very big -lawn is about 5 x 7 metres.

We both work a full time. We have one child and another way. We don't have much money and I'm not keen to throw much money at the garden as it's not ours as such! And our landlord is a complete tight arse so I don't want to leave him better off when we move out! (bitter? Me? Never!)

Aside from occasionally hacking at things, are there any low cost things we can do to make it look good rather than just looking like the outside? Ideally I'd love to be able to stop all the sodding weeds from popping up all over the place!

specialsubject Wed 29-Jul-15 10:00:20

get out and do some work at the weekend. Lots of weed and feed on the lawn. Weedkiller and digging out roots on the weeds.

not 'occasional hacking' - regular trimming. Get it under control and it is much less work.

a couple of bottles of appropriate chemicals from Wilkinsons and some work. Not much cost.

aren't some dog owners disgusting?

specialsubject Wed 29-Jul-15 10:01:24

oh, and if you want some plants, buy some seeds and a couple of propagators, and get going on those at the right time. Speak to friends with gardens and take cuttings at the right time. Again, no big spend needed.

shovetheholly Wed 29-Jul-15 12:29:29

What about growing veg? You'd get to eat it, so you'd reap the benefits yourselves instead of passing them on to the landlord.

Soil-wise you could get a compost bin (£15-25 from your local council, may be free on freecycle) and make your own compost, and use manure, which is available for free from most local stables. Then your only expense is the seeds, really and any cheap plants you put in (Aldi are brilliant - in the spring they do fruit canes and bushes for £1.79 each and fruit trees for £2.99).

The downside is that it's a lot of work at the start - not money, but work - but you'd be developing a whole bunch of skills and growing healthy food for the family!

coveredinsnot Wed 29-Jul-15 15:43:04

Lovely ideas! We have actually tried growing veg but we were bloody useless at it. Mainly because we were inconsistent and couldn't tell what was what blush. We both work full time and I'm heavily pregnant now so won't be doing much digging tbh. I think we're also a bit lazy - would rather spend sunny weekends at the beach or park rather than in the garden!

Will get on to the weeds for sure. Can't really go wrong there!

Might fill a few more pots and place strategically around the garden, then we can just lift and run when it's time to move!

shovetheholly Wed 29-Jul-15 17:14:20

Veg is hard. Much, much harder than flower gardening. First of all, most veg plants are much fussier than most flowers, and second of all, anything you want to eat, a legion of other pests want to eat as well!

So don't be put off if you made some mistakes - we all do! (If you fancy it, come and join us in the allotment thread, and you'll be hard pushed to find anyone who hasn't problems with something! In some cases, like mine, problems with lots of things). Fruit might be something to think about doing - it's much easier on the whole, but very rewarding!

However, if you really think gardening perhaps isn't your thing, then there are ways of creating a nice outdoor space that is low maintenance. Shrubs and ground cover are important!

anon33 Sat 01-Aug-15 13:48:53

I'm in same situation OP. I have bought loads of plants and put them in nice pots, container gardening and just generally keeping things neat/tidy. I don't want to plant in the ground (due to cost) and I have found moving the pots around every so often is a really nice change and makes a big difference.

Pinterest have some really nice, simple ideas for container gardening. I try to stick with evergreen stuff (again to keep costs down) which still look good when not in flower. Rhododendrons, azalea, cordyline etc. Not expensive and will hopefully last years. In terms of "colour" I love geraniums, trailing petunias, surfinia etc. Not expensive and with the right care will last months in flower.

Enjoy OP, this is the first year post DC (15 years!) that I have taken a keen interest in the garden and it has been very therapeutic.

coveredinsnot Sun 02-Aug-15 16:42:57

Thank you! Any ideas on where to get nice pots and containers from? Homebase is our nearest place but they seem rather over priced to me.

Do any of you buy plants online? Wondering where is cheapest / best to get plants from..

HaveYouSeenHerLately Sun 02-Aug-15 20:24:22

I've bought the largest pots I can afford to allow for root growth and impact smile

Agree with the evergreen shrubs idea for year round interest. I have rhododendron, fatsia, phormium and box balls interspersed with pots of trailing annuals and herbs. It's useful as you don't have to re-do them twice a year and they look nice in winter (may need a bit of fleece protection during frosts depending on where you are).

The glazed pots came from eBay locally (people moving house) and I've picked up quite a few medium plastic ones from the pound shops which I aim to gradually replace.

I have a couple of plastic flexitubs and a tower of nine stacking trio pots (look for them in the pound shops, 3 for 2). My latest purchase has been enormous plastic planters ('bell pot' style) from B&M, 3.99. They have them in terracotta and black if they're still available.

I'm a fan of vertical planting so I like to get creative with my boundarieswink
I have hanging baskets, hanging pouches and sweetpea wigwams in addition to my trio pot tower.
I think height definitely makes a difference in terms of impact and leads your eye around the space grin

I'll admit it is a bit of effort to fill them initially and I have to re-do them twice a year apart from the evergreen shrub ones. I tend to scale things back in winter and stick to bulb lasagnas with winter pansies on top, and a couple of winter hanging baskets with pansies/ivy/cyclamen and so on.

Definitely make sure to punch or drill drainage holes, and factor in some budget for compost (I tend to use Aldi's). I cheat and half to two-thirds fill my pots with garden soil, topping up with compost. I'm trying water-retaining crystals for the first time this year (from Poundland) to see if it makes a difference to watering. You need to be fairly dedicated to watering during the summer as pots dry out ridiculously quickly.

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas on Pinterest for container gardening. A children's nursery near here has loads of wellies fixed to the wall filled with flowers grin I tend to prefer bigger containers mind as the small ones dry out so fast (in the SE). I've also had to use the dreaded slug pellets to get my plants off to a good start sad

paxtecum Sun 02-Aug-15 20:29:07

I would not be using weed killer in a garden used by a child.
It's just as easy to pull the weeds out.

HaveYouSeenHerLately Sun 02-Aug-15 20:49:35

Sorry that makes it sound like an awful lot of work. I started off small (in rented houses with ugly gardens) and it gradually became my passion grin

I see you're pregnant so you probably don't want to do anything too intensive. How old is your eldest? Do you use the garden much currently? Any patio furniture/ play equipment etc?

Definitely start by improving areas bit by bit. The lawn (as pp said) is a really good place to start. Buy a box of weed, feed and mosskiller (I use Wilko brand but try and get it on sale) and sprinkle it about. You need to water it in if it doesn't rain within a day or so. It's made my grass really lush and killed the weeds off. I trim the lawn regularly and shear the edges (it only takes ten minutes more and I like the neat effect blush). Do you have a lawnmower or can you borrow one?

I tend to get the majority of my plants from the cheap shelf at Homebase blush There are some really good bargains in our local one, although I tend to pop in fairly regularly. Sometimes the reductions aren't significant enough for me to risk it wink All my evergreen shrubs have come from there, heavily reduced. The reason? They've finished flowering for this year. But they still look great planted up and you'll get flowers next year smile

I buy the odd thing from Morrisons garden centre/florist too. Their prices are excellent imo. They have gorgeous autumn/winter hanging baskets from Sept/ Oct for £4 if you'd like some instant colour. I don't think you could buy the basket, compost and plants for less.

Sorry for the double-essay! Do you have any photos of the back garden? I'm on the app so apologies if already visible.

anon33 Sun 02-Aug-15 21:12:10

I bought pots from the pound shop and B & M, spray painted them different colours and coated them in clear varnish. I cannot justify spending £30 on a pot that is likely to be kicked over and broken by the DC!

anon33 Sun 02-Aug-15 21:13:43

I also bought Valspar tester pots for £1 and painted the pots, again with a coat of clear varnish. They look really well for a couple of pounds :-)

coveredinsnot Sun 02-Aug-15 21:26:37

Wow thanks so much! haveyouseenher I love the essays so please don't apologise - precisely the kind of ideas I've been after. Really so helpful.

I like the idea of getting cheap pots and painting them, don't know why I've never thought of that! Great summer holiday activity with my son (who is 7 so very able to help and loves doing things like that).

What is b&m? Don't know if we have that round here... But we have a homebase nice and close and a home bargains, as well as a Range and a Lidl so I'm sure if I keep my eyes peeled I'll find some bargains. Although I did buy some cheap fruit trees from the range a couple of years ago that actually turned out to be dead angry

Yes weed killer is evil stuff! Will steer clear of it for now. And just keep giving them evil looks and gently suggesting to my husband that he does something with them grin

And yes we do have a lawnmower already so we're OK on that front. Will take some snaps tomorrow and share them. It really is a lovely garden just a bit overgrown and misunderstood by us!

echt Sun 02-Aug-15 21:49:53

Stay with the plastic pots, especially of you're planting up big ones, so you can move them around. Bigger is better when it comes to saving on watering.

HaveYouSeenHerLately Sun 02-Aug-15 22:04:43

It sounds really promising, glad the tips were useful (I have a tendency to bore on) grin

Your eldest is a brilliant age for gardening smile I'm trying to think of child-friendly August/September jobs. Hopefully someone will have some ideas!

Could you reward them for helping you pull weeds (make sure to get the root too) or is that too mean? wink
Lots of lovely creepy crawlies in the soil if they're into that grin

I would concentrate on acquiring the planters and so on this month and make bulb lasagnas with them (see YouTube) in the autumn. Top off with some winter pansies so you're not looking at bare pots until the spring wink

B&M Bargains is very similar to Home Bargains. I've had the odd thing from there (such as the humongous pots) and they stock a lot of solar lights shock grin
On that note, buy some solar fairy lights, your seven year old will love them (I'm 33 and I do wink). I have a few sets and they look nice strung along the fence or tangled up in a bush grin

I tend to steer clear of plants from the budget shops as they're always tiny/half dead in mine. I pick up bits from Morrisons and Aldi instead as they're about the same price and I've had a high success rate. I'd be curious to try the pound shop bulbs but I fear disappointment! Check out the bargain thread for upcoming deals.

I really like the idea of painting the pots! I looked into Plastikote paint last year but at nearly ten pounds a can it defeated the object (I only had one large pot to paint). I'm definitely checking out the valspar testers, thanks grin

Madmum24 Mon 03-Aug-15 12:06:32

Stay away from the plastikote sprays, they are a rip off. The pound shop sell them in the car section. Not a great range of colours; usually silver, gold, red, black, white but they are good for creating a more "classic" looking pots. YY to the suggestion of tester pots, a really nice activity for kids to have their own too.

HaveYouSeenHerLately Mon 03-Aug-15 12:19:38

Thanks madmum! Do you need to coat the car sprays with anything (eg varnish) or do they cover without flaking off? Great tip thanks thanks

Madmum24 Mon 03-Aug-15 12:32:48

^Just coat in clear varnish.

HaveYouSeenHerLately Mon 03-Aug-15 12:43:15

Can I be dense and ask which varnish you use?

Madmum24 Mon 03-Aug-15 12:47:02

You can buy in homebase etc. There are different types of varnish, just look for a clear one (it will state it on the tin) as the other types give a yellowy colour.

thornrose Mon 03-Aug-15 12:56:56

I bought a huge roll of weed inhibiting stuff and laid it to make wide borders and then used pebbles to cover it. Like others I use containers, the biggest I can afford. No weeding, yay!

I have a couple of hydrangea, I know they're considered boring but I love them. No maintenance and big blousy flowers for months on end.

I bought 3 other shrubs which flower every year and can be left alone, this gives good low maintenance interest and colour.

I also have some smaller pots and tubs so I can pick up cheap bedding/border plants for variety. Geraniums are great for colour and very cheap at market stalls.

thornrose Mon 03-Aug-15 12:58:40

You could put weed inhibitor under the gravel at the front too.

coveredinsnot Mon 03-Aug-15 13:34:21

Where did you get your pebbles from?

And as for pots etc, I know plastic pots are cheaper, lighter and more practical but I just don't like them! Not sure why. I like the idea of decorating pots though and tomorrow my mission is to get all the materials together for a pot painting extravaganza on Wednesday! Can't wait!

Also about to look up YouTube videos of this "lasagne" idea as well as I've never heard of it.

Getting excited now, rather than daunted! Thanks all!

thornrose Mon 03-Aug-15 13:44:37

I got them from Wickes. I'll post a picture but it's still a work in progress and quite rubbish, don't laugh! blush I've yet to pebble one side as I'm doing it gradually.

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