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Back Yard Blues

(31 Posts)
NotAMammy Fri 05-May-17 21:53:36

Well, less blues and more blind optimism but I'm hoping you lovely lot can help.
We've recently bought our first house and although it overlooks a lovely allotment, giving us the impression of having acres of front garden, we actually only have a small back yard. We have a separate allotment for actual veg growing and a small corner for some pollinator-friendly flowers, but I'd like to brighten up our backyard too.

It's all concrete so I can only use planters. It's east facing, with walls on all four sides, so gets some sun but mostly partial shade/shady. There is the remains of a netty/outhouse too so plenty of walls to climb up.

I currently have a baby bay tree, baby hydrangea, some bedding plants, some pansies (thanks to the old owner) and some sweetpea in various pots. I also regularly have catshit in the pots thanks to next door's mog.

Does anyone have any suggestions of what to plant where? Ideally I'd like to plant for colour, scent and wildlife-friendliness.


buckeejit Fri 05-May-17 22:08:29

How big is it? I think there are great things you can do with small back yards-do you like any of this sort of thing? One bigger raised bed might look better than a load of pots. I'm a pot-a-holic but trying to cut down big style this year!

GingerKitCat Fri 05-May-17 23:46:25

Do you have any photos?

How about some mirrors in amongst the planting to give the illusion of depth? Also vertical planters planters/ hanging baskets/ obelisks with climbers pots to draw the eye upwards.

Can you paint any of the walls to give more of a courtyard feel? Do you have a table and chairs in a sunny spot?

NotAMammy Tue 23-May-17 23:12:32

Sorry, I intended to take photos but either it was dark or there was washing out! (Or both and the washing got darked on) And then I forgot.
Here's one from when we moved in. i've since added a couple of containers, including one below the window of the shed which has some sweetpeas and other things I can't remember. We've put some wires up to encourage the sweatpea to grow up there.

Realistically we live in the NE and the prevailing scent in the backyard is the smell of our neighbours' joints so we probably won't have much use for furniture out there. The main space is big enough to get the car in, which we do occasionally to wash it, etc, so I can't put anything permanent there. I don't think I'll be doing much more this year, but I'd like to get some ideas and plans for next year, if possible.

I'd love a bit of a raised bed with some climbers on the party wall next to the small gate, that gets the most sun. I'm also thinking some vertical planters with different colours on different levels, but I don't know if that would work? Nearly everything I really like seems to require full sun. I love the look of this but don't know if it's doable:

I'm also considering hanging a shit load some solar string lights along the garage door, but I came up with that brain wave last night and haven't checked if it's in any way feasible. I fear that watching Chelsea Flower Show has gone to my head...

AstrantiaMajor Wed 24-May-17 07:03:30

To attract the bees and deter the cats I would suggest prickly plants. Cirsium, Erignium, holly and pyracantha will give you berries and thistles. For perfume and to cover the walls a combination of Jasmine, climbing Hydrangea and Pyracantha.

Acers, Coleus, Spirea and Dicentra all do well in Pots and thrive I. Shade.At ground level, ornamental grasses, Chinese silver grass, molinia, anemanthele will give drama, and you can leave the seeds heads on for winter interest and cut back in the spring.

I would go for mainly hedgrow plants as they are very tough. Valerian , Acatea, Veronica, Angelica, achelia and Salix.

JT05 Wed 24-May-17 09:08:36

For height, you might try a small tree in a very large pot. I have a Rhus staghorn and it seems to do well in most positions. I underplant with spring bulbs and then free flowing sweet peas.
A few twigs in the pots might deter cats.

clarabellski Wed 24-May-17 09:23:27

There are some varieties of climbing rose and hydrangeas that tolerate shade well, and would look attractive on your brickwork. Have a google for these.

I'd be tempted to go for big bold foliage plants in large pots rather than flowering plants, as I think flowers might get a bit lost in the concrete/brick space. You could look at some evergreen varieties for year round interest.

clarabellski Wed 24-May-17 09:23:52

Sainsburys have a good selection of solar lights btw

JT05 Wed 24-May-17 09:29:20

Another thought, mahonia is a good structural, evergreen plant with bright yellow flowers and would do well in a large pot. Also a caster oil plant would give you a jungle feel.

GingerKitCat Wed 24-May-17 11:20:49

Fatsia, Madame Alfred Carriere climbing rose for shade?

Love the solar string lights idea! Most of mine have died a year or two in however. My neighbours have a mixture of garden lights. Their bigger string bulbs are mains powered, is this an option?

WellTidy Wed 24-May-17 22:44:13

What about buying a very simple bench, so that your pots are not all on the ground? You could buy one that is long and backless (3 pieces of wood essentially: two legs and one horizontal), and then you could have pots of varying heights at different heights. What about dome trellis, again for height, with climbers e.g. a semi evergreen honeysuckle?

Ive recently bought loads of new containers, and I think it can work well to have containers all in one colour, but in completely different shapes, heights etc. It all blends well, but there is interest in it too.

chickpeaburger Thu 25-May-17 09:52:53

Don't want to be cheeky (but I know it is) but can you borrow a power hose? Your backyard will look so much more appealing if you give it a good clean before you start adding lots of pots.

NotAMammy Thu 25-May-17 20:44:44

That is on the list ChickPea I got some containers in to get something done, but dh is to borrow a powerhose from a friend soon so we can get that done. I bloody love powerhosing so I can't wait to get at it. Longer term we'll need to relay the concrete as it's uneven in places, leading to some pooling beside one of the walls. We also have to repoint the brickwork so plenty to keep us busy!
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'm going to get googling to identify them as I only recognised holly, jasmine, hydrangea and rose from those suggested.

Would jasmine grow in a shady northern spot? I assumed they were all about the sunshine.

AstrantiaMajor Thu 25-May-17 20:59:55

I have grown both summer and winter Jasmine on a north facing wall that gets no sun.

viques Thu 25-May-17 22:16:18

Hi, I was thinking about this thread while I was watching the Chelsea programme on Wednesday evening. At about half past eight they showed a small yard garden where they had painted the walls in wonderful brilliant colours for a Mexican theme, it looked fabulous, have a look on iplayer and see what you think!

NotAMammy Thu 25-May-17 22:27:17

Oh fabulous. I know some foliage would be a good idea, but I just love flowers. I don't mind if they don't create a sophisticated or vaguely sensible vision, I would just love to get as much flowers as possible in there. I think I will aim for some evergreens and texturally interesting things going on, but keep working towards my dream of an overgrown country garden!
It looks like David Austin have a few options of roses that can be grown in containers in the shade. Am I setting myself up for heartbreak with these? Look at these things of beauty that would clash horribly with the brick but I don't care:
The Madame Alfred Carriere mentioned upthread doesn't specify that it's suitable for container planting - do you know if it is?

Would a dwarf rhododendron be a possible contender?

I'm very impressed by those that know the proper names for things!

JT05 Fri 26-May-17 00:12:52

I have the climbing rose Golden Showers growing in a large trough on a north facing wall. It's does really well, loads of repeat flowers and a beautiful scent. The yellow is a real pop of colour against the dark.

AstrantiaMajor Fri 26-May-17 08:02:47

Lots of annuals will do well in shade as long as you don't want to start them from seed. In fact they last longer out of the blazing sun. I like Welltidy's idea of some sort of staging. Geranium, pelargoniums, fuschia and hanging basket plants are all available now.

I would be inclined to attach trellising to The wall and hang loads of hooked baskets on it. Or You can buy plastic pouches that you fill with soil and put plants in. My Garage wall used to look stunning with trailing nasturtiums in flower pouches. Really cheap too. That is one plant that you can start from seed

traviata Fri 26-May-17 08:26:10

I second the idea of painting the brickwork. The Mexican themed garden at Chelsea is great, or for soft Northern light you could try softer colours - blues, soft pinks, soft yellow, off-white. Have a look at courtyard gardens on Pinterest.

clarabellski Fri 26-May-17 09:57:13

ooh colour is a great idea! We have 'baltic blue' (from B&Q colours range) on our fences and shed. It softens everything a bit.

Another thing I've been wanting to try is putting pots on a plant ladder up a wall:

Perhaps you could grow some edible salad leaves in pots in this way as they don't like too much direct sunlight?

clarabellski Fri 26-May-17 09:58:35

p.s. OP you realise you're going to have to post some 'after' pictures for us all?!?!!? wink

sunnyhills Fri 26-May-17 12:27:23

If it's possible to get cheapish wheelbarrows maybe you could plant up a couple and wheel them out of the way when you need access for a car ?

JT05 Fri 26-May-17 12:39:34

What a good idea, sunnyhills

NotAMammy Fri 26-May-17 21:46:33

Bwahahahaha, golden showers!

Yes, a wall of trellis with lots of baskets hanging off it sounds like a great idea. I think I might paint the trellis too, or will that look bad after a while? Then all the pots the same colour.

The wheelbarrows are a great idea, we had those at school so it will bring back memories.

I think you might all get bored before I have some good 'after' shots as the plan is to do quite a bit over the next year or so, rather than just spending a ton now. I love the idea of painting some of the brickwork, but we need to do repointing first.

Can I buy foxglove as a plug plant? I've tried growing it from seed before but they came to nothing, and I think they are a good shade flower.

AstrantiaMajor Sat 27-May-17 06:39:37

You can buy foxgloves as plants and for a shady situation it is much better. Crocus, although a little expensive are an excellent on-line supplier and every thing has a guarantee. Because of the poor weather, and my stupidity in planting things too early, I lost two plants this year. A quick phone call and replacements were sent immediately.

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