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What can we do with this garden? (Photo included, I hope!)

(35 Posts)
LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 11:30:38

We moved in 1 month ago. I feel like we have the house under control. I know what I'm doing when it comes to inside spaces!

Neither I nor DH have ever had a garden, apart from when we were growing up. I also manage to kill houseplants in a shockingly short space of time.

Long-term plan involves a bit of landscaping but no money for that at the moment. We would like the garden to look a little nicer than it does at the moment though. I'm not sure if the plants that are already there are dead or or not. There seem to be a few roses and I guess those just aren't flowering at this time of year??

I'd like to fill out the beds that are running down the sides of the lawn so that there's more foliage than mud on view but have no idea what would work well planted closely together or not. No idea what type of soil it is - quite a dark brown but a fair few stones visible.

Aspect is north west. Left hand bed gets sunshine during the day from about halfway up, but the rest is in shade.

That ended up quite long. Sorry.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 07-Feb-16 11:40:34

That's literally the worlds easiest garden.grin

Wait till June/July to see what comes up - for all we know at the moment those rose bushes might be glorious and there may me spring/summer perennials waiting to spring into life.

Then plant things you like between the roses. If you like herbs or things that smell nice go for lavender/Rosemary - b and q do 3 for a fiver in summer.

You probably won't need a lawnmower, I use a strimmer on my allotment which is bigger than that.

A few pots on the patio and it would be lovely. Unless you want to replace the patio I'm not sure it needs landscaping.

Pipistrella Sun 07-Feb-16 11:53:49

Shrubs are your answer, I think - between the roses, not too close - it will take a few years but you can soon fill those spaces with things that will pretty much look after themselves.

Have a mooch around the garden centre or nursery, and see if anything takes your fancy - it's a nice simple garden, I'd keep it like it is if I were you, because maintenance will be simple (mowing etc). I'd also put in a few trees at the edges, because I like privacy and I like the noise they make in the wind.

Don't get anything huge, as roots might be an issue being quite a small plot. But you could put in some fruit trees or nut trees or similar.

Pipistrella Sun 07-Feb-16 11:54:20

Oh and think about whether you want or need a shed, and organise where that's going first.

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 11:58:33

The patio is a bit sloping and uneven, so I'd like to replace it eventually. I thought maybe a raised bed in the corner on the right. The last people had a small playhouse there and and there's some concrete that would need digging up and removing.

Shall we just do nothing til June then? I was hoping I could make some headway during Easter hols but I don't even know when things should/shouldn't be planted!

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 11:59:56

Thanks Pipistrella, we weren't going to get a shed as we were going to use the garage for storage

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 12:01:49

I like the idea of a few small trees. Fruit would be lovely. Do they kind of take care of themselves after a while too? Seriously, I can kill plastic plants sad

Mumblechum1 Sun 07-Feb-16 12:07:24

You may want to put something like an amelanchiar

in the sunny corner. It's small, gives blossom in spring, berries then red foliage in autumn.

Tbh because the garden is so small, I'd agree with PPs and wait to see what comes up.

If you're desperate for some colour in spring, though, you could just pop some bedding plants in for instant colour. These could be in pots or directly into the beds. If in pots, but some gravel or broken crockery in the bottom for drainage, and remember to water them regularly.

Mumblechum1 Sun 07-Feb-16 12:09:49

Fruit trees do need annual maintenance by the way, this may just be a check to make sure there are no crossing branches, but if you prune fruit trees reasonably regularly you'll increase yield.

Another idea for instant colour would be a pot with an azalea

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 12:10:22

Oh that's pretty Mumblechum

Pipistrella Sun 07-Feb-16 12:10:38

Good about no shed - that gives you more space!

Leave the concrete for now in case you think of a use for it, it can be good to have somewhere hard to stand things.

Dont wait till June. You shouldn't plant things in the summer as you'll need to water it all to keep them alive till they have a good root system.

I would buy a few things now and get them in the ground, and see how you go.

fruit trees are very easy to grow. You put them in and just leave them! Watering is always a good idea during their first summer, maybe every few days, depending how hot it gets.

After that they should be self sufficient.

Make a drawing and plan where you will put stuff, then go shopping! smile

You might still get some bulbs coming up so be a bit cautious while digging - btw those roses look hopeful, I don't think they are dead.

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 12:11:02

And the azalea!

Pipistrella Sun 07-Feb-16 12:11:50

ahem, sorry, crossed posts - I don't maintain fruit trees but I don't care about the crop, so much as the tree shape and so on so I prefer them to do their own thing.

You can prune just about anything, but as I don't know what I'm doing, I prefer to leave it to nature!

Pipistrella Sun 07-Feb-16 12:12:19

(we have an amelanchier/ snowy mespilus, it is lovely!)

LemonRedwood Sun 07-Feb-16 12:20:10

Thanks for the tips. It's half term soon so I'll get going with a few bits then.

Then I'll come back for some ideas for the front garden! wink

Ferguson Sun 07-Feb-16 20:30:48

The one thing that would help greatly, I think, is unless you REALLY DO need that amount of lawn, would be to make the borders MUCH WIDER, half as much again, if not twice as wide. And to have some gentle, sweeping CURVES, instead of dead straight lines.

On the left, that could possibly be a hydrangea (with old flower heads), and a large rose maybe? The soil looks reasonable, but if you can put down some organic manure kind of stuff (spent mushroom compost, 'Humix', or best of all '6X' but that is more expensive though you only need small amounts of it) and rake it in to the top of the soil.

The green plant on the right looks rather like our Penstemon, but it could really be anything, so you won't know for a few months. And is that the remains of a climber on the top of the fence on the right? The fences could do with pressure-washing to get rid of algae, if you can borrow or hire one.

There doesn't seem to be a border at the bottom, so you could take off some turf, and blend it in with the side borders. To make gentle curved borders, lay out some flexible hose pipe, or thick rope, and move it around till you like the shape. (Look at it from the patio, or from the house window, to get the most pleasing shapes.)

Wolf Garten tools are very good, and the 'heads' clip onto different handles, so although they are expensive you don't need a handle on every tool. Try and rake the lawn to get leaves and debris off, and don't mow it too short yet, but just take the top off if you can.

You will probably find seedlings coming up, and some could be weeds, but some could be nice plants, so be careful what you take out.

Good Luck!

funnyperson Sun 07-Feb-16 20:50:09

clean fence and coat with preservative

decide on climbers/trees/winter structure for boundaries

plant edible cherry tree or apple tree or similar so as to have blossom and fruit

after widening borders plant from back first. decide where to put veg and herbs.

get design books from library and peruse as there are loads of options just loads

Kr1stina Sun 07-Feb-16 21:33:35

I agree with funny person. Get a design book from the library or Google/ Pinterest small garden design .

You can spend many nights on Pinterest making up boards of gardens you like . Search for any aspect you like - paths, water features , seating. After a while you will work out what style appeals to you and what layout would work in your space .

Learn about easy care plants. You want lots of shrubs , preferably 1/3 evergreen . Flowering one and those with interesting foliage . They will need pruned but not for a year or so , so you have time to learn what to do .

Remember that leaves will be on show for at least 7 months of the year and flowers for perhaps only a few weeks . So choose shrubs that vary in height, shape, texture and colour of foliage .

Bulbs are easy too, but it's not the time to plant them right now. Perennials are more work as they need divided every few years and some need staked .

You want plants that will have more than one season of interest, ie they will look good for more than a couple of weeks when they are flowering .

The most important thing is to plant things that like living in your garden .

The classic beginners mistake is to go to an expensive garden centre and buy things that look familiar , which is usually lavender and roses , and plonk them into the boring bits of soil around the edges. They usually look terrible and often die .

This will make you poorer and sad, and you will think that gardening is too hard . Which isn't true , it's fun and rewarding and any intelligent person who is willing to learn and do a little work can have a beautiful garden .

So, garden design. Work out what things you need and where they should go eg seating area ( in the sun ) washing line, shed, BBQ, bin storage . Do a plan stealing all the best ideas off the internet.

Make your new borders / expand the ones you have . Do any hard landscaping . Spend time and money improving the soil in your borders. This is very boring but will mean your expensive plants are more likely to thrive .

Plants - See what grows well in your neighbours gardens. If anyone has a particularly nice one, ask for their advice . Make a plant list and work out where you are going to put them . Check future sizes and conditions that the plant likes carefully online . Do not rely on the labels you will find on the plants for sale, they all say the same - plants in moist free drawing soil in sum or semi shade .

Learn what plant names mean as they give important information.

Paint or stain fence now and put up supports . After Easter, go to your local nursery with your plant list . Ask for advice .

Buy and plant climbers, a small tree or two and larger shrubs . I mean ones that will grow big,they will be small now .

Then smaller shrubs and perennials , in groups of three or more. Buy bulbs in the autumn and fill in gaps .

shovetheholly Mon 08-Feb-16 09:23:29

Ferguson gives good advice - with a garden like that, unless you have £££££ to spend on amazing linear modernist landscaping, you need cuuuuurves.

Unless you have quite a bit of experience at gardening, I would say that a trip to the garden centre could be an expensive waste of money. You need to pick the right plant for the right soil and the right aspect - there is absolutely no point spending huge sums of money on gorgeous shade plants if you have a garden that is on free-draining sand that bakes in the summer! They will die and you will get discouraged. You also don't want to spend a lot of money siting an extremely expensive patio in a part of the garden that gets no sun.

One of the best things you can do right now, while the weather is awful, is to snuggle up indoors and take a look at Alan Titchmarsh's DVD series How to be a gardener. It'll save you from lots and lots of beginner mistakes (which are very discouraging). One of his best pieces of advice is to work out what you have and then to design for it. That means figuring out what sort of soil you've got, whether it's pH neutral or not (you can buy cheap kits to test it), and what aspect you have. Once you have that info, we can all recommend stuff that will definitely do well!! Think about your layout too - experimenting on graph paper can be amazingly useful.

Most soil will also welcome a good old mulch with compost, so you could get a delivery organised (or buy a few carloads of cheap bags from the gardening centre) and get spreading. If you do all that now, you still have loads and loads of time to order and plant in things that will do well in late March but more like April/May.

Can I recommend the Secret Gardening Club - they sell interesting plants at super-cheap prices - you pay less for 3 plants than you would pay for just 1 in the garden centre (and 3 is about right for a domestic-sized clump). I've had 3 lots of stuff from them so far, and they have all arrived in fine fettle. If you get their Plant Pass membership, you have access to still more offers.

In early years, the garden can look a bit spare as things get bigger, so sowing annuals can help to fill the spaces.

funnyperson Mon 08-Feb-16 11:01:40

The curve vs straight line question is a knotty one. Plants provide curves anyway. Should, for example, a water feature in such a garden be a pristine rectangle or a curve?
OP's garden shape is very like mine and I have never really resolved the straight line vs curve question. None of my lines are really straight because I am not an obsessional edging sort of person but I am seriously thinking of a straightlined water feature with irises providing curves

All the best books and designers say that the end of the garden should not be visible. ie with time it should look as though the garden stretches onwards. This can be achieved by planting shrubs and trees at the back which will grow tall, and plants in receding colours such as blues and greys at the back.

Ceanothus is a lovely plant for the back of such a space but isnt of much interest when it isnt in flower though one can trail clematis over it to extend its season of interest. I have clematis montana and clematis Abundance trailing over my ceanothus which is wonderful as there are flowers pretty much all year though if I were to plant again I might plant a blue clematis viticella rather than Abundance, just to keep the colour continuity.

Acers are wonderful in the autumn but out of season can be boring.

LemonRedwood Mon 08-Feb-16 19:38:08

Thanks for all the fab advice so far. I have started a to-do list grin

It's that time of year when it's dark when I go to work and dark when I come back, so I'm looking forward to next week when I can do a few bits and pieces.

PurpleCrazyHorse Tue 09-Feb-16 10:02:07

I'd suggest not spending much this summer and live the garden for a year to see how the shade works, do you actually sit out, where's the best spot to sit etc? This will help you plan the space that works for you (which might be a big square patch of grass for now if you have kids who love playing on it)

Plus, get a feel for how much gardening you actually want to do and therefore know better whether you actually need lower maintenance plants. You don't want to get caught up in the excitement and end up with something that doesn't work.

Our new garden is all paved and we've sat on it a year to see what flowers, what we like, what we dislike and how the sun tracks the space. We're hoping this year to start making changes.

Kr1stina Tue 09-Feb-16 10:14:55

You are very patient, purple . I couldn't possibly wait and would be up all night / weekend watching you tube videos, reading gardening books, drawing plans, compiling plant lists and pinning .

If I was doing anything outside now I'd be staining the fence mid or dark green and putting up plant supports on the fence and walls . Maybe putting trellis on the fence to make it higher. Working off boards of course .

Kr1stina Tue 09-Feb-16 10:19:45

Angles versus curves

Seeyounearertime Tue 09-Feb-16 10:21:18

I'd do a small version of this type of thing. Paved ground for easy maintenance and cleaning, seating to enjoy the sun. I'd have flower beds beds at a height so i could tend them from a seated position to make maintenance easier (less bending, kneeling, back aches grin)

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