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I finally have a garden and now don't actually know what to do!

(21 Posts)
ifiwasaflowergrowingwildnfree Fri 07-Oct-16 12:18:11

We finally have a garden, which I am very excited about. The previous owners clearly spent a lot of time on it and on many ways it is beautiful, but I don't think it works for us as a family and it the layout doesn't fit with how I dream of a garden looking. There is quite a large section given over to a veggie plot, which I just don't think we can maintain. I work full time and have two young children, so envisage spending about 2 hours a week, and then some irregular full on days on the garden. We can't afford a garden designer and am excited at the prospect of designing it for ourselves, but what do I need to do/ bear in mind when planning it out. I have a fair idea of plants that I like, but don't know if they work well together. I've been given a subscription to gardeners world magazine, which I love but is a bit over my head tbh. Is there a particularly good book I could get to help? What tools do I need? Any hints and tips would be much appreciated!

Kr1stina Fri 07-Oct-16 12:23:49

Don't panic . Just cut the grass for the next month or so. And trim the hedges lightly if necessary. Then you have all winter to plan what you want to do .

Watch " how to be a gardener " with Alan tirchmarsh on you tube.

ifiwasaflowergrowingwildnfree Fri 07-Oct-16 12:28:03

Oo brilliant, thank you, will definitely YouTube that. Do I need to wait until next spring/summer to get cracking on it? I foolishly thought winter might be a good time to create some new beds and get rid of stuff we don't need blush

shovetheholly Fri 07-Oct-16 13:07:04

Winter is a good time to clear and dig - but Kristina is wise in saying that you need to work out what you want first in design terms and that this may take quite a few months.

A huge part of what you do will depend on your aspect, soil and the part of the world you are in. Things that are happy in north-facing clay in Scotland may struggle on south-facing sand in coastal East Anglia. Figuring out what you have, and how to work with it, is really important.

Sosidges Fri 07-Oct-16 14:52:34

If you want to move plants or plant new shrubs this is the best time of year to do it. Especially bare rooted roses or trees.

I would start looking at garden pages on Pinterest. Take a screen shot and create an album. You will probably find that you have very definite ideas about what works for you. I like leaf shape, leaf colour and ornamental and twisted bark, others like riots of colours provided by bedding. Also look at colour pallettes. It is not really about what works together, if it pleases your eye then it is right.

If you are raring to get going,choose an area close to your house, clear it and plant it. It does not have to be a big area, in fact quite small would be good. Maybe plant up few pots for Spring colour. I would clear the veg patch and plant loads of bulbs. Sacks of daffodils are very cheap. Bluebells, snowdrops and crocus will give you something to,look at in the spring. Next year you may decide to leave them in or you can dig them up and move them around.

What are are you in, because this will influence what you cam plant.

Sosidges Fri 07-Oct-16 14:54:28

What area I mean.

MrsBertBibby Fri 07-Oct-16 19:29:24

There's a Titchmarsh book too.

I would try to hold off while you find out what's ready there and learn which bits get any sun. Maybe plant up some tubs if you can't bear to wait! Cyclamen are lovely right now.

There may be a gazillion bulbs lurking already! Probably are if they were gardeners.

ifiwasaflowergrowingwildnfree Fri 07-Oct-16 21:24:07

Brilliant. Thank you all so much. We are in Somerset and despite a north facing garden, it is actually raised up so gets the sun all day. All your suggestions make complete sense and it's made me feel less bad about wanting to change things to suit us(me!) despite it already being well developed. I've started my Pinterest board and just going through some of the threads on here are introducing me to some plants I didn't know or had forgotten about. Good to hear about the Alan Titchmarsh book, it sounds useful to be able to dip into. I think I want a medicinal 'patch' somewhere and elsewhere definitely want some hydrangea, dahlias, peonies, nightstock, aliums and gypsophilia (not all mixed in together, but somewhere) if they work in the soil and don't need too much work. My absolute dream would be a cherry blossom and a white Japanese wisteria tree, but no idea if they would work. Need some room for the children to play too and it's not that big really (though to me it's huge as I'm so happy to have itgrin). Thanks again!

Sosidges Fri 07-Oct-16 21:46:24

It is lovely to hear about someone just starting out on their garden. I moved here exactly 40'years ago and can remember the exicitement of my tiny patch of garden after living in a flat with my children.

Now, old age means I am having it all ripped out and I am having a new easy to maintain garden of Acers, trees, and roses. It is hard to take out Plants that I love, but, like you I have to create a new garden now, just for me. Exciting times. I hope you will keep posting about your progress.

Kr1stina Fri 07-Oct-16 22:07:48

Sosidges - can we see some photos of your garden redesign ? It's an interesting idea and I'd love to see how it works out .

Are you doing raised beds and hard landscaping or just lower maintenance planting ? And I've never thought of roses as particularly low maintenance - please tell me your plans .

dodobookends Fri 07-Oct-16 23:10:09

Sometimes it pays to wait and see what comes up in a garden - there might be loads of bulbs in already and in spring you'll find out where they are. Also, it isn't always easy to identify shrubs at this time of year, so wait until next year when they flower to find out what they are. If you prune bushes now, you might cut off all the growth with next year's dormant buds on.

Re the veg patch - how about covering the whole area with bark and getting a swing/climbing frame? Then, when the children are older, you can take it away and have the veg patch back again if you want, or turn it into a secluded seating area instead.

There is a really good book for people wanting to design their garden themselves - it's called "Making a Garden" by David Stevens (part of the City & Guilds Leisurecraft series). Really handy with loads of hints about deciding what you want, and where to put it, and changing existing gardens layouts when you move house.

Sosidges Sat 08-Oct-16 00:35:10

Kr1stina. My garden it tiny and over half of it is ground planting and the centre patio. But now I cannot manage all the large shrubs. Originally i was going to have all patio, but as I have started to clear and plan, ready for the work IinNovember it is a bit too much of a drastic change for someone who loves gardening.

So I am having trellising put in front of my fencing all around the garden. The garden is 26 feet long by 15 feet wide, and I am going for a woodland type of thing. I am trying to create a meander through the garden.

The paving is called Copper and represents a forest floor, all browns and greys and earthy greens. Six feet from the house will be a bed coming out at right angles from the fence. 6 feet x 2.. the other side, 17 feet from the house will be another bed also at right angles. 5 feet by 2.I want to plant in the far bed tall thin things, so,that from the house, it looks like you are looking through railings. I have a beautiful collection of Acers in pots which can be moved either in front or behind this bed, depending on the season.

The paving will go right to trellising on the garden and I will buy some big planters for my Roses, clematis and jasmines. This is the sort of thing I am trying to create.

Sosidges Sat 08-Oct-16 00:41:33

Not sure how much I can include

Sosidges Sat 08-Oct-16 00:48:30


Sosidges Sat 08-Oct-16 00:53:33

That was supposed to say my dream is 10 times larger than my budget.

Qwebec Sat 08-Oct-16 02:27:00

OP, everyone gave you lots of good advice. Just want to add, the trick for easy garnening is to start with easy plants. The winter is the best time to prepare, look at plants you like, make a list and verify that they are pest and desease resistant, not invasif and that they meet the light and humidity levels that your garden provides. Just with that you are saving yourself hours of work. A thick layer of mulch makes limits hugely the weeding time.
As for a veg patch, honestly since I use degradable mulch, all I do is plant them, and come back for harvest, that's it.

shovetheholly Sat 08-Oct-16 08:09:40

So sides: those pictures are so beautiful. You have such a good eye, I bet your final result will be wonderful.

Don't feel bad about wanting to change things flower. It's really important to make a garden your own. I think what nost of us are saying isn't "do nothing" but that I takes some time to get to know the peculiarities of even a small domestic garden. The light falls differently in winter to summer, conditions change with the seasons and plants retreat underground for parts of the year, which means that you may have clumps of spring flowering things that you aren't even aware of. Sometimes you can save yourself work and grief by putting a few weeks extra into the planning. Also, many many gardens need quite a lot of TLC with regard to the soil. Sometimes the best investment over the winter is a few bulk bags of compost to use as a mulch!!

All the plants you mention should be ok on a well lit north facing site, except perhaps wisteria and gypsophila, which like sun. Do you have a south facing front garden that you could put them in instead? You might want to put the cherry in partial sun too, or get a type that is just that bit more tolerant of shade?? I tried an eating cherry in my north facing garden but it was unhappy so I moved it to my allotment.

shovetheholly Sat 08-Oct-16 08:10:12

So sides? Sosidges!

ifiwasaflowergrowingwildnfree Sat 08-Oct-16 14:10:08

Thank you so much everyone, such great advice and veginning to get a plan of action a bit clearer in my head. Sounds like we've moved at a good time and there are some straightforward bits to do that will make me feel like I've made a good start*. Sosidges* your post was lovely to read and I love your own ideas for your new garden. We actually also have a courtyard and some of the things you are planning would be beautiful in there. I'll definitely post my progress and I'm sure that I will be frequenting the gardening board now too, you all seem like a lovely, friendly bunch. Please keep us updated about your progress too sosidges. Holly it's really great to know that my favourites should work. I probably shouldn't really have said that it's north facing, as because of its height (we access it via steps and it's kind of as high as the roof tops) we actually have all day sun across most of the garden (so hopefully that means my wisteria might work grin). Thank you all so much again.

Mycraneisfixed Sun 16-Oct-16 19:19:57

I created a flower bed this year by digging out part of the lawn. Took ages to get rid of grass and weeds.
I asked Google everything I wanted to know and used YouTube for other tips.

shovetheholly Mon 17-Oct-16 07:28:59

ifIwasaflower - yes, there's north-facing like my garden, where it gets virtually no sun in winter because of the shade cast by the house, and north-facing like yours, which is a kind of plateau really, where shade is going to be far less of a factor!! Is it fairly exposed, or is there shelter nearby?

You sound like you already really know what you are doing - you're telling us all the right information and you've really thought about the space already. That's already way more than most self-described "beginners" do! So maybe you have a talent for this grin. I would love to hear about your project as your ideas develop!

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