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Please advise me on my back garden:)

(31 Posts)
united4ever Fri 18-Mar-16 00:24:39

Hope the below linked picture works.

imgur.com/8ChzJky

My plan is to add turf in the border to the left and at the back Areas marked in black. Then the remaining border. Reason is I find the borders quite labour intensive with weeding and I'd like to extend the lawn for kids to play. However, I am unsure what shrubs and how many to put in that corner to the left side of back wall.

It gets a bit of sun but only in the afternoon and near the fence is pretty shaded. Was thinking of getting a Japanese acer and a hydraganea in there. But was wondering if just haveing a few shrubs against the back wall would look a bit crap? Do you think it needs more depth i.e. one or two taller shrubs behind the ones in front to give it layers/contrast.

Also above that wall is a fence and the backs of other houses which are not so pretty...I think it's too high to block it all out but any ideas welcome. Suppose i could build up the soil high at the back wall and plant really tall plants to cover up the back wall, fence and view of the houses to the back but that seems a more difficult and expensive job right now.

Any ideas welcomesmile

By the way the tree to the right is a laburnum tree and blossoms bright yellow in June only.

shovetheholly Fri 18-Mar-16 08:17:08

I think the main decision here is one about the time you're willing to invest, and this depends so much on your personal circumstances. You could just turf the lot, and then you'd just have to mow every week or so. But, to me that would be a shame. It doesn't solve the problems you have with screening off things you don't want to see, and it wouldn't look very good.

Now I can see why turfing would sound like a good idea, because when I look at your beds right now, I see a lot of work. In my experience with gardening, there is nothing that is quite as labour-intensive as bare soil. It needs weeding all the time - nature abhors a vacuum and will take advantage of your nicely cultivated beds to grow wild. I actually think that if you grew carefully selected, low-maintenance things in that soil, you would very likely have less work than you currently do.

So I think in your shoes, I would keep those borders and fill them with shrubs that need little more than a prune once a year and perennials. In fact, I'd even widen the one to the left so that I had room for larger things at the back and smaller things at the front. I'd be choosing some things that were medium height, so 8-12 feet tall, to provide strategic screening of fences and backs of houses (these will also give you some acoustic screening). What you choose depends a bit on the 'look' that you want, but a mix of evergreen and deciduous will give you some colour and privacy all the year round - you definitely want a couple of evergreens in front of that breeze block section, for instance. Good doers might be things like viburnum tinus (and other viburnums) choisya, fatsia, gold variegated holly, photinia, lilac, golden elaeagnus (can never spell that word), a magnolia stellata. If you have anything lower growing, you could fasten some wires to the fences/walls and put in climbers behind.

Then I'd put some flowering perennials with year-round interest in the front: you want stuff that basically looks after itself and has the right kind of colour to match your scheme. Spring and summer-flowering bulbs are also incredibly low maintenance and will give you early and mid season colour.

This still leaves you with a big lawn for the kids to play, but it also gives them something to help you with - growing together can be a lot of fun! Kids get a lot of joy out of growing things like sunflowers!

PennyDropt Fri 18-Mar-16 08:51:02

I will disagree with shovetheholly and say stick a flowering cherry around where the gold conifer is so that your eye goes to that (get a wide one) and not the wooden fence behind.

Put in the shrubs, as suggested above. Shrubs grow, I have berberis bushes that are 15 feet high (or more) but are 25 years old or so. So whatever you put in will eventually fill the bed and cover the wall. I would grass the side bed but remember you will need to strim the edge.

I'm against perennials as they can grow to large tight clumps in a few years (or at least the ones which are easy to grow do) which are horrible to deal with and difficult to dig out/control.

united4ever Fri 18-Mar-16 09:12:02

Thanks, just to clarify Penny, a flowering cherry meaning a cherry tree. We thought about this (my wife is Japanese so she would love this) but came to the conclusion it may be too big - but if we prune it then I suppose not and it would still flower in Spring right? Forgive my ignorance, but how do we get a 'wide' one, just ask in the shop.

Thanks also Shove, some good ideas - yes I am limited with time sadly so low maintenance is a big factor.

Hufflepuffin Fri 18-Mar-16 09:16:51

Could you add some nice hazel or willow hurdle above the wall to block the view of the fence?

shovetheholly Fri 18-Mar-16 09:51:24

You can get very upright flowering cherries, the columnar Japanese sort. Cherry 'Amanogawa' is often recommended for tight spaces and is widely available.

shovetheholly Fri 18-Mar-16 09:55:44

You can then have your own hanami at home! smile

Also, your wife might really like an ornamental plum tree - these are so underrated in Britain, but more appreciated in Japan. Acers, azaleas (may need to live ina pot), hydrangeas, and shaped box balls could all be used to add to the Japan-style effect!

Kr1stina Fri 18-Mar-16 10:20:57

You've had some good advice here.

I'd be concerned about hiding the various walls and fences, with tall shrubs or climbers or even both .

I wouldn't put a pink cherry tree next to a golden conifer but that's because I don't like pink and yellow together . Also cherrys are not the best tree for a small garden as they only look good for 2 weeks a year .

I note that your tree is laburnum and want to check that your children are not young enough to eat the pods, which are extremely poisonous ?

PennyDropt Fri 18-Mar-16 12:41:19

Good point Kr1stina about yellow conifer and pink flowers.
But tbh I'd get rid of the yellow conifer, don't think it goes particularly well with flowering shrubs.

I have an old 'species' laburnum and I believe that it has poisonous seeds in the pods but I don't think the modern ones do.

Kr1stina Fri 18-Mar-16 13:00:45

Ah, I didn't know that about the laburnum

I have an ishoo about pink and yellow but I know that many gardeners love the combination - it's such a personal thing. I also dislike Prunis Kanzan because I hate the bright pink berries and the maroon new leaves

As you can see I need therapy ......wink

shovetheholly Fri 18-Mar-16 13:04:03

Really? So there are now non-poisonous laburnums? I did not know that! Do you know the names of the varieties?

I great up with a laburnum tree next door. They are fine as long as children are told. To be honest, there are so many very common garden plants that are poisonous (many of which we all grew up with) that it's worth enforcing the rule never to eat anything that hasn't been picked by an adult.

QueenElizardbeth Fri 18-Mar-16 13:05:09

The first thing to do, if you can manage it, is to sort out the boundary and make sure it is adequate. There seems to be a section of wall made from breeze blocks, that looks a bit - broken/ unfinished?

Is there any way to remove that and either put some fence there to match the rest of the fence, or some more brick wall?

It's lovely that you have a brick wall. They are always lovely as a backdrop.

united4ever Fri 18-Mar-16 16:56:17

Great advice all - my kids are 4 and 7 so past the stage of putting things in their mouth generally but I will warn them anyway. Thanks. What about 2 or 3 Betula jacquemontii (himalayan birch) at the back to cover the fence and back of neighbours house). Would that be too bleak in winter? Looks really pretty. Would like to fit in a Cherry 'Amanogawa' as well and I love the magnolia stellate, viburnium tinus and hydraganea. In terms of colour scheme would this work?

united4ever Fri 18-Mar-16 17:25:35

very basic paste job but trying to visualise it here:

imgur.com/kKqy0ox

Kr1stina Sat 19-Mar-16 06:16:05

I love birch trees - they have a beautiful elegant shape throughout the year and lovely bark . They grow well for me in my very exposed garden and they are pretty tolerant of diffent conditions . But they do grow quite tall , maybe 5m? I'd check if I were you . The multi stemmed ones tend to stay a little smaller . They won't cover the fence of course but they will give privacy .

Viburnum ' Eve Price ' is a great shrub, evergreen and pretty flowers for most of the winter . Again , not sure if it will grow tall enough to hide your fence but it would look good in front of something else . I love hydrangeas too - there are so many and some give better colour on an acid soil, so check which ones you like. I have some blue lace caps , H Blue Bird I think and H quercifolia .

Magnolia stellata is one of the hardiest , I grow a late flowering clematis up mine as its beautiful in flower but not very exciting for the rest of the year .

They should all be happy in your semi shade as they are woodland plants

Other easy shrubs you might consider are Eleagnus ( choose your cv carefully) , euonymus fortuneii ( lots of colours ) , Choisya ternata - all evergreen . Photinia - I hate but many people love . Phormium give a different shape .

Various cornus and viburnum and psycocarpus won't mind semi share . Grasses are very easy and give lovely movement at the front of the border - there are hundreds so choose carefully for your conditions

Potentilla are easy shrubs , will be happy in your semi shade, flower for most of the summer and the stems are a warm tan colour though the winter .

Garden centres sell many smaller cultivates of buddleja , they will give you some height in one season. They are very cheap and can be easy cut back or taken out later when posher things grow up a bit.

PennyDropt Sat 19-Mar-16 06:48:52

Silver birch grow to 30 m, not sure about Jacquemonitii. So not usually put in a small garden.
The garden centre shrubs will have the height after 5 or10 years on the label usually.

Kr1stina Sat 19-Mar-16 06:54:49

Sorry I meant 15m not 5m .

But I've just looked it up and crocus say it's 18m for B jaquemontii

united4ever Sun 20-Mar-16 19:39:05

Yes, thinking about silver birch B Jaquemonti. Hard to visualise 18 metres vertically. Is that the height of an average house? Would like to keep below 15 metres...maybe multi stemmed might keep it lower. Also can they grow ok of planted right next to the back wall? And would that laburnum tree be too close? Thinking long term I may try to remove or stump the laburnum tree but talking several hundred pounds I gather so may do that later. Could always get some young silver birch and have them in large pots for a few years I guess.

Thanks too Kristina. I need to google some of those shrubs. The neighbours have lots of Choiysha which we do like and they are nice and bright for winter too when thinks can be bleak.

Kr1stina Sun 20-Mar-16 21:04:09

Our house is Victorian and it's about 8m high. I'm guessing that modern houses will be about ? 6 m . So it's perhaps 2.5- 3 times the height of your house . The older birch in our garden are about 10-12m but our conditions are quite harsh , so things don't grow very tall here.

You can't plant a big tree right next to your wall , sorry, the roots need room and as the tree gets bigger it will affect the wall . Trees prefer the ground to pots , so you would need to keep them well watered and fed in a pot and perhaps root pruned .

It would be much easier just to go for a small tree and large shrubs And put them straight in the ground . I'd go for crab apples, rowans ( smaller ones ) and amelancheir because it's cold and exposed here. Others will have recommendations for hot and sunny gardens .

Choisya - I have the green ones, the yellow ones are called ' Sundance ' and they are less hardy.

funnyperson Sun 20-Mar-16 21:24:09

Hello
I think get rid of the laburnum and plant a cherry instead -so much nicer .
I have a cherry Amanagowa but my garden is a lot smaller than yours and yours would be nicer with a weeping cherry or a white cherry tree imo . Or Morello cherries of course! Amanagowa really is very columnar and your wife might cry if you bought it. I think cherry blossom is vv important in Japan and the cherry tree needs pride of place and spread enough so that you can picnic under the falling blossom.

Hydrangeas and wisteria are well thought of in Japan

Birch trees are lovely and so are acers.

Choisya is a bit boring ( I have one, the yellow lights up a shady spot, but I inherited it from the previous owners and for much of the year it doesnt do much and th foliage is golden and I agree with whoever upthread mentioned that gold and pink dont go together so well . I would plant a hydrangea instead eg Annabelle or whatever your wife chooses.

If you have a flowering cherry then the Magnolia may flower at the same time or you could plant an evergreen magnolia.

Here is a lovely selection of cherry trees including Japanese ones
www.pippintrees.co.uk/trees/flowering-cherry-trees

Here is a lovely selection of magnolia trees
www.burncoose.co.uk/site/plants.cfm?pl_id=2670

Here is a lovely selection of Hydrangeas
www.ashwoodnurseries.com/shop/plants/hydrangeas.html

united4ever Mon 21-Mar-16 01:26:18

Yes, I think no more trees then until we move the laburnum tree. Its funny my elderly neighbours always say to us that its beautiful when it flowers and how the previous owner bought it. They may be a bit disappointed I guess. But may leave it a little bit as it is so expensive it seems to remove a tree like that. Cherry tree would be lovely and yes hanami every spring would be special. Thanks for the selection funny person.

echt Mon 21-Mar-16 08:14:49

There are so many poisonous things in a garden, your best bet is to bring up your children not to eat things from there.

HazyMazy Mon 21-Mar-16 10:57:15

I live in a large Victorian house with high ceilings - my rooms are 2.5m high, so height of house is 2.5+2.5+ 2 (for the pitched roof) so 7m roughly - so, 18m is a bit bigger than the average house !!

funnyperson Mon 21-Mar-16 12:47:06

Lol echt I guess I 'm a bit paranoid about laburnum as when I was a junior paediatric doc a lot of on call time was spent rescuing children who had ingested laburnum in the early summer, thinking they were peas (look v similar) and quite a few hairy moments were had by staff and parents alike as laburnum causes cardiac arrythmias. Its the littlest ones one always worried most about as they could never say whether or not they had eaten anything or how much they had eaten.
That said, this old article from the Guys poisons unit suggests we over-react
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1507435/?page=1
My parents told me never to eat any berries but then I'm a townie and anything growing wild was always treated with the utmost suspicion and of course always seemed really very very attractive. I miss no opportunity to go blackberrying now of course.
There is a very beautiful laburnum grove somewhere but there are lots of very beautiful non poisonous blossoming trees.

General advice on keeping children safe in the garden from the poisons unit
www.npis.org/garden.pdf

QueenElizardbeth Mon 21-Mar-16 14:28:40

I went looking for info about a certain plant we have and one of the first hits took me to a page listing a huge number of plants.

here

The best bit, and totally incongruous, was this image grin

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