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Redesigning the whole garden - thought processes

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussions' started by glasgowdan, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. glasgowdan

    glasgowdan Gardener

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    I am not quite happy with the layout of the back garden and would love to redo the whole thing. It's fairly square, around 20x20m, but there are a few items that are quite immovable, including trees and a large swing set. Most of the planting seems to be around the perimeters, which I'd like to wholly change. I have pictures in my mind of a few variations in height, some beds that hide the further parts of the garden, and lots of things to hide a horrid brick wall down the back. There's lots of big grey slabs laid out in rows around the edges so they're all going to go, and I may create a simple, but nice, patio at the back of the conservatory.

    How do you go about things? If you've no picture in your mind of how it should all look, just where do you begin? I don't want to spend money on a designer as I doubt I'll get something I really love that way. I also don't have the funds to do a one-off project and complete the lot in one go.

    I need to deal with drainage first, and being a totally flat garden that's a bit tricky!

    Any tips or thoughts?
     
  2. Verdun

    Verdun Passionate gardener

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    Yes, sort the drainage first glasgowsdan.
    You know you want a patio and where it should go.
    Great starting points :)
    Do a PH test to determine what plants you can grow.
    Do you want a water feature? A walk through arch? Another sitting area, apart from the patio? A lawn?
    Draw a few sketches, chop and change your mind. Develop ideas....shapes and curves you like and are practical. Avoid petty, small borders and go for as large as possible.
    A few evergreens, some scented shrubs, some colour for winter etc.
    First things first though.....drainage then patio. Then the rest will follow.
    Lots of "designers" out there ....some good some not so good.....but nothing like doing it yourself and on the forum here we can help you step by step :)
     
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    • ricky101

      ricky101 Gardener

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      and please do post some pictures of your garden so we can really see what you have now.

      If not already bought, get some of the many gardening mags and cut out any pics of what looks good to you and add them to an ideas board, that might then help you create a clearer image of what goes with what .
       
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      • silu

        silu gardening easy...hmmm

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        I am presuming that you hail from Glasgow @glasgowdan ?:). Having lived for a short period in your neck of the woods I know exactly what your weather is like.
        I don't know if you currently have lawn or not and whether you REALLY need 1 ie having small children/pets etc. If the answer is no to needing 1 I would seriously consider designing a new layout without lawn. Yes ok the perfect bowling green type grass looks great but and it's a huge but you have already indicated that drainage is a problem and with your climate the chances of getting a good lawn are minimal...a moss patch however is a nigh on certainty, which would match what I have!
        If you do currently have lawn then you could fairly easily dig it up turn the sods upside down ie the reverse of how the Irish are taught to lay turf "green side up Paddy" :) and use the extra soil to raise the level in the current flowerbeds (might improve their drainage by being higher) or create an island bed in say the centre of the garden as you aren't happy with all your planting round the perimeter.
        The big grey slabs I presume are 2ftx2ft paving slabs? I have these too. Lots of them but mine aren't too bad as they are ancient and covered with you've guessed it moss:).If you want to get rid of them advertise them on the likes of Gumtree. I got rid of about 50 without any bother at all and got a few bob for them. Alternatively you could break them up and make paths of crazy paving out of them. Not fantastic but would keep costs down from a paving material point of view. Photos below are what I did with some of the 100s of slabs that were here when we purchased the property. Only cost was cement and my time (oh my aching knees). The plants detract from the path so it's not too bad!
        Re you ugly wall, I'd grow something like Ivy all over it. There are some really lovely variegated Ivies available which would do the job and give you something fairly attractive 12 months of the year. You could add other climbers too like Clematis if the wall gets sun.
        Maybe none of my ideas suit which is fine. Often you have to go through the process of what you don't want to find what you do. Also that little word compromise can be appropriate unless the budget is unlimited!
        garden 2.JPG
        garden 1.JPG
         
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          Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
        • Verdun

          Verdun Passionate gardener

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          IMG_2904.JPG Cough, cough, splutter, splutter....agh!! A garden without a lawn???? :gaah:
          Ok, not every garden needs or should have one but a lawn is so unifying. A garden without a lawn is like a picture without its frame. A place to sit,...better than a patio....a place to play, a spread of green to relax in. It doesnt need to be a bowling green...who wants that? My own is played on and used recreationally ...unthinkeable to replace it
          Glasgowdan, enjoy your preparations for your garden....slowly but surely; one step at a time :)
           
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          • silu

            silu gardening easy...hmmm

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            Knew I'd have someone spluttering @Verdun:). I absolutely agree a lawn is lovely and it's amazing how a newly cut lawn can make what looked a rather untidy garden appear quite smart, however it would appear that you like myself have a big area while 20x20mtrs isn't expansive. If you add a patio to the area and flower beds then the amount of grass is quite small and then the effect of a lawn is diminished I feel.
            With drainage problems and the very very wet climate in the West of Scotland grass can be a real pain not being able to cut it because it's so wet.
            If you have a bit of imagination and design savvy I have seen really lovely gardens with no grass. Using attractive hard landscaping and loads of plants can give a lovely effect especially if you have say a water feature.
            I also agree a lawn to sit on rather than a patio is preferable BUT you live in Cornwall which is not the same as the West of Scotland. I lived in the West for 18 months. I honestly thought my hands and feet were becoming webbed! We had a beautiful view from the kitchen window...only saw it about 20 times due to the harr and when I put washing on the line on the odd occasion it wasn't raining it didn't dry as the atmosphere is so damp. The garden I had then was a nightmare with the beds being too wet to weed regularly as they were soaking and we had to sometimes strim the grass, it being far too wet to get a machine anywhere near it. Perhaps by spending a fortune on putting in drainage pipes and relaying the lawn I had on sharp sand might have been ok but as it was I reduced it by 1/2 during the 2 seasons we lived in that part of the world to try and make life a bit easier.
            There are advantages of the wet climate tho, so not all bad, many plants grew really well and it's quite a bit milder than in the East where I live so not knocking the West just not my cup of tea climate wise.
             
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            • UsedtobeDendy

              UsedtobeDendy Gardener

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              Hi, @glasgowdan! Quite a project you've got there! Have to agree totally that sorting out your drainage has to be the first and biggest step. You may well find loads of rubbish under your soil. Particularly under the grass, and getting that out might well help.

              If you'd like to keep grass, you might consider relaying it with reinforcement blocks, as I've done. It means you won't have the grass all boggy if you have to use it in bad weather conditions. We have this because a) it's the way down to the greenhouse and b) the dogs use it....:(

              Once you've dealt with the grass, it's a good idea to draw a plan of the garden with the fixed objects in it, and pencil in what and where you might put plants, etc.

              When I did mine about 12 years ago, I started with trees, shrubs and hardy perennials, and threw seeds of annuals into the gaps. Now there aren't any gaps!

              Most if all, though, don't do too much at a time, or you'll risk straining something :0, and the work will never get finished! And.... enjoy it! :) ;)
               
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              • Verdun

                Verdun Passionate gardener

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                A wet climate silu? A warm one here.
                 
              • glasgowdan

                glasgowdan Gardener

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                Thanks for the feedback. I love the image of the thick borders with the sand colour cobble path down the middle, but I suspect that would be very bare 8 months a year. Things that make the garden feel bigger, hide the boundaries and so on would be ideal. The lawns we have are quite reasonable but I don't want them to be manicured (the front lawn is the manicured one). I let the grass grow really long and am trying to allow clover, buttercups and daisies to take over somewhat.

                I'll probably get stuck in this winter when I'll have time available, and do as much as I can myself to keep costs down as there are other things we need to spend our money on.

                A couple of images below.

                [​IMG]


                [​IMG]
                 
              • Clare G

                Clare G Gardener

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                I think that looks very promising @glasgowdan! If it was my garden I would try creating a 'point of interest' in the middle of the far wall, on that section of slabs. Something for the eye to rest on, when you look out of the house/ conservatory and down the garden. Maybe try something temporary like a group of plants in pots first, and see what you think?

                I agree with others, take it a bit at a time, tackle what you are sure about first, and work with rather than against nature if you want to avoid frustration! Oh and here is the best bit of design/drawing advice I have ever had*: "start in the middle, work outwards, and you will find it much easier to fit everything in and keep it to scale." That was what I did when I redesigned my garden last year - link to the thread though the photos have now gone AWOL because they were on photobucket: Replacing a lawn with gravel (so glad I did!)

                *From an architect - my old PhD supervisor in fact (I'm an architectural historian though, not an architect). RIP Peter, thank you and bless you!
                 

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