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Think we need to start garden again from scratch. Halp.

(6 Posts)
AnUtterIdiot Thu 15-Sep-16 12:03:39

We moved to a house on a new estate. The house and estate are lovely. The garden is terrible. I mean, it's superficially fine - it has a lawn and a bit of decking and some OK-ish shrubs and young trees. However, it seems to have been built on clay and rubble, which I gather is not uncommon for newbuild estates. Virtually no topsoil. The lawn is scrubby, mossy and miserable. There's a vine weevil issue which to some extent is common to the whole estate but our plants are definitely far more damaged than those of our neighbours (who replaced their topsoil). The shrubs are ok but not what I would have chosen.

I think we need to generally replace the topsoil both for the lawn and for the flowerbeds. I'd like to get rid of the pointless ivy that we have on three sides of the walls and replace it with espaliered fruit trees. I'd also like to fill the beds with something pretty and bee-friendly that will thrive without too much fussing (maybe marjoram or bettony?). I'd also like to have a lush, healthy lawn instead of the scrubby, strangely-uneven-due-to-builders'-rubble thing that we have at the moment.

It's north-east facing, slightly more east than north, so gets a decent amount of sun but mostly in the morning and early afternoon.

The problem is that whilst I am ok at maintaining a garden that's already planned (i.e. I can weed), I have never taken apart a garden that I didn't like and replaced it with a new one, and have no idea where (or when!) to start. Is there a book or site that anyone can recommend? Would I be better off getting someone to come in and do this for me?

All tips greatly appreciated...

MaryMargaret Thu 15-Sep-16 15:02:48

Could you get land drains laid? - is there anywhere for them to drain to. The ground will be horribly compacted after all those vehicles have driven back and forth endlessly during construction sad Poor drainage is probably the worst enemy of grass, rather than fertility per se I believe - and compacted soil can tend to grow moss - or even slimy algae sad

Do you know how much the neigbours needed to spend on topsoil? It will take a while to build up fertility by just adding organic matter at your own pace - but on the other hand, flowers don't need it too fertile, and even a lawn doesn't need masses of fertility so long as you are not after a bowling green - and there is an advantage in it not growing too lustily!

I have no idea about eradicating vine weevils I'm afraid - especially if you don't want to go all chemical warfare on them sad.

I can tell you that marjoram is an excellent toughie, though it does flop about a bit in less sunny locations - still flowers though, and seeds iself around so generally friendly and helpful! Other tough, clay tolerant (I've got it too) and insect friendly plants I like are Japanese anemone (flowering beautifully now) sedum (ditto) many of the hardy cranesbills, veronicas (tall blue spikes) and alliums, especially the small red teradrop shaped ones - again, they will spread themselves merrily if they are ahppy. Those are all moderately sunloving I suppose. Aquilegias and masterwort seem happy enough in semi shade though, and deadnettles - all get insects on them too. Oh and the cow parsely relatives.

All these are pretty rude and boisterous for me (lots of daintier plants have been trampled by their enthusiasm !)

I wouldn't get rid of all the ivy, great wildlife plant, I love it! And a bit of winter charm when everything I've listed above has more or less vanished.

I'll leave someone else to suggest shrubs and evergreens...though I do have a kind of tree cotoneaster which grows anywhere, bees go mad for the (inconspicuous) flowers, and birds love the gorgeous red berries. Trouble is, I have no idea what it's called!

AnUtterIdiot Thu 15-Sep-16 15:25:08

Thanks, that's brilliant to get me started! I don't usually mind ivy but this stuff is a bit tattered because of the WEEVILS...

MaryMargaret Thu 15-Sep-16 15:47:30

Ugh, guess you've got to tackle those first then. I am fantasising about a way to keep digging the ground over till the robins have eaten the lot - but in reality I'd be checking the internet (and complaining to the developer about using a dodgy landscaping supplier? perhaps you can guilt them into paying towards sorting it out??)

Qwebec Thu 15-Sep-16 19:57:43

For the lawn, what a few people I know are doing is adding from time to time a thin layer of earth until the lawn looks healthy. A layer of earth thin enough that the grass doe not die, but grows though. You can look the procedure up on the net.

For starting a new garden, I suggest finding a few good gardening books and making a list of what you like. It's daunting at first but quite rewarding. The trick to an beautiful garden is to start with easy trouble fee plants (resistant to deseases, pests, non invasive).

Qwebec Thu 15-Sep-16 20:06:24

Hmm, we don't have vine weevils where I live (that I know of).But I found this:

Are there any plants that vine weevils don't like?

We don’t know of many plants that are completely resistant to Vine Weevil attack but there are a few that seem to be less attractive to them. Plants with fragrant leaves appear to be less vulnerable to attack from the adult weevils such as Lavender, Lemon Balm, Geranium macrorrhizum, and Mint. They also seem less attracted to furry leaves such as those of Stachys byzantina.

It may also be worth noting which plants vine weevils love: Arisaema, Aster, Astilbe, Azalea, Begonia, Camellia, Cyclamen, Echinacea, Epimedium, Euonymus, Fuchsia, Heuchera, Hosta, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Kalmia, Lilium, Peonies, Phlox, Primula, Rhododendron, Sedum, Strawberrys, Syringa, Taxus, Tsuga, Wisteria. They tend to like plants with succulent stems and leaves.

That is the easiest way I found to get rid of pests: not growing plants that attract them but those that keep them at bay.

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