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Can any green fingered mumsnetters tell a novice what to do with my garden?

(9 Posts)
Ricekrispiesquare Tue 28-Feb-17 15:58:45

I have attached a fabulous diagram and a compass screen shot.

The compass screen shot was taken when I was standing at the back door to the right of the diagram facing the garden.

The border with the curly scribble in it is dug up border, I believe the ground is clay.

What would you do with my garden? I love bees and would like to make it as bee friendly as possible.

I've already potted loads of sunflowers as I am absolutely in love with them and was thinking of doing a wall of sunflowers along the right side of my garden as well as more outside the front and side.

I've started to beat the border ground regularly to help the soil. Do I need to do anything else to prepare it and make it better?

I've also bought 4 x 130cm troughs and also 3 x 1 metre x 1 metre raised beds.

I've got a plastic green house thing coming for my little seedlings and am happy to plant lots more seedlings.

So, if you had my garden, what would you do?

shovetheholly Tue 28-Feb-17 17:33:54

OK, so I think that means your garden is south-east facing. (I am rubbish at directions, though).Three further questions, because climate and soil matter: where abouts are you, roughly? And are you on clay, chalk or sand or whatever? And are there any other things that shade your garden, e.g. blocks of flats, large trees that aren't on your plan etc?

If I had your garden, I'd dig some really deep, wide beds and I'd make them curvy rather than straight to add interest. Deep beds mean you can fit in a shrub, something midheight and a smaller, ground cover plant.

I'd dump a load of compost and manure on the surface of the soil, and I'd make sure I put loads in the bottom of any hole I dug for plants too. I'm slightly concerned about the idea of 'beating' the ground - you don't really want to be hitting it to compress it or anything! It's generally fine to dig it and let it settle.

Then I'd plant up with a mixture of evergreens, deciduous shrubs, hardy perennials, spring and summer bulbs etc. It's important you choose things that like your soil and climate as well as your aspect. I'd be aiming to have something in flower every single month of the year - this helps all kinds of insects. (I saw a honey bee out two weeks ago, so early nectar sources are definitely important). I'd be looking particularly at things that bees like - good list here:

and I'd add teuchrium, deutzia to that for a sunny spot.

I'd also add a log pile to help insects out!

Ricekrispiesquare Tue 28-Feb-17 19:40:02

Thank you for your reply

I'm just outside of London and have been told the ground is clay. There's nothing else blocking the sun apart the fences around my fardrb(6ft the whole way).

I'm probably not describing it very well- I'm breaking the soil up and turning it. I thought I was supposed to do that regularly! Not sure if this 'after' photo helps but the ground was all clumped together first.

I'm going to google the names of your suggestions (total novice so not sure what you've mentioned actually is!).

A log pile is a good idea... didn't even cross my mind!

AstrantiaMajor Tue 28-Feb-17 20:44:26

A blank canvas can be exciting as well as a bit daunting. Wisdom about digging a garden has changed over the years. It used to be advised to double dig and turn over the clods each winter and leave them to the elements. People do not have time for that nowadays and the advice with clay is not to tread on it when it is wet and not over dig it.
Clay soil near London is very fertile and not really a problem. I break all the rules with regard to planting. Like you, my London garden is South Facing. Rose's do really well, but I also grow Acers and conifers by digging in Ericaecous soil where they are. Bees like simple uncomplicated flowers, particularly purple. I grow lots of chocolate mint in a pot and Eryingium Miss Willmots Ghost . They get drunk on them.

The biggest problem with clay is that it dries hard in Summer and hangs onto water in Winter. There is a company called Compost Direct that sells excellent Compost, so a big bag of that with a big bag of mulch will do wonders for your garden.

For Ideas, I recommend you visit RHS Hyde Hall and Beth Chatto garden. They both garden on clay and are amazimg places. I would also suggest a visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden. They do free tours. It is a fascinating place. You can learn all about insect friendly plants and also the history of medicinal plants. I go several times a year as it is an ever changing scene. Also they do fabulous food.

traviata Tue 28-Feb-17 21:36:45

The thing to avoid is narrow little borders all along the edges of a rectangular lawn. There just isn't enough space to get a good effect, and they emphasis the limits on the space.

So what I would do is;

I'd draw a line from the bottom right hand corner of your diagram all the way across diagonally to the log cabin, passing just behind the apple tree. I'd make it slightly curved rather than straight. This would be the new border.
Then I would lift up all the grass turf behind the line to a depth of about 3inches - just below the grass roots - and turn each piece over on the spot, then cover the whole area with weed-suppressing membrane and leave it for a couple of months. At the end of that time the soil underneath should be lovely, but I'd probably tip a bag or two of compost on top to condition it.

Meanwhile I would be planning what to plant in the new border. I'd have a small tree at the back corner - maybe an amelanchier as you already have an apple - or a lovely tall shrub, and I'd put climbers all round the fences. Pick a colour theme, put in two or three plants with permanent structure (eg roses or tall grasses like miscanthus), and fill in the gaps with whatever you like.
I'd put the raised beds by your patio doors for year-round effect and choose grasses, tall wavy things and a few evergreens to go in them.

Ricekrispiesquare Thu 02-Mar-17 13:19:46

Thank you for your replies!

I'm going to get researching and will let you know what I'm doing

It is incredibly daunting. I find I'm googling things, then having to google words in the explanations 😂

shovetheholly Thu 02-Mar-17 13:25:03

You will get the hang of it! It is very difficult at the start - please remember than everyone makes mistakes! One thing with gardening is that you can correct most of them - the most important thing is regularity and attentiveness. When things go really wrong for people, it's often because they haven't gone out and been in their garden, so they haven't seen a problem until it was far too late. Just going around every day or two and taking a look at how things are doing is really useful (and destressing!)

Check out Alan Titchmarsh's DVDs called 'How to be a Gardener'. They're a really good introduction and will give you more confidence.

Oblomov17 Thu 02-Mar-17 13:56:56

Might not be a bad idea to go to the garden centre and with your phone pictures, tell an old fashioned, properly knowledgeable gardener type what you have want. He might say this grows well in your conditions : and show you a few plants?
he might say don't choose an evergreen lime green choisya plant to go there, because it wont grow well.....etc.

traviata Sat 04-Mar-17 11:51:44

Please don't feel daunted!

The joy of a garden is that it is pretty forgiving. You do something one year, and if it doesn't turn out how you hoped, you can change it the next year. Or you find that something which didn't look like much in its first year of growth starts to fill out and develops into something lovely.

I'd say there are three main points to bear in mind:
i) it's always worth improving the soil by adding organic matter such as compost, before and after you plant things; you only need to put it on top and the worms will do the rest;
ii) the bigger the space you have, the easier it is to achieve a good effect by mixing different plants;
iii) pick plants which like the conditions you are offering them - eg sunny, shaded, windy, damp, dry etc.

have fun and enjoy it!

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