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Advice for low maintenance garden.

Hello, I'm new to this forum, and new to gardening in general, really. 

I'm looking for some advice and ideas to create a relatively fuss-free, low-maintenance ideas for my garden. I'd really like something nice to look at all year round. 

My garden is south facing - and is pretty big really. There are two beds already in situ. I'd like to add another, but will get these two up to standard first. 

The two big problems I'm facing are weeds and slugs. I imagine this is a problem for everybody. I've tried slug pellets (animal friendly ones because I have a dog), but they don't seem to work. I've tried egg shells, which haven't worked, and I've tried laying dog hair around the plants, and that hasn't worked, for combating the slugs. 

I have real problems with my joints and am unable to bend, at all - and so I can't really weed the garden. My partner does it when he comes to stay, but they're popping up all over the place. I think the ideal is to create a bed which can effectively smother these weeds. 

This is bed number 1: 

image

I wanted this one to be filled with blues and purples. There's already a few bits in there, but a lot has been destroyed by the aforementioned slugs. Does anybody have any ideas as to what I should be putting in there, that can help to create that weed-smothering colourful carpet I'm hoping for?

My partner said he chucked some seeds in there - love in a mist, or something. I think that's what all the little green seedlings are - I can't really tell which they are, and which are new weeds. 

I can't remember what this plant is, but I remember the label saying it would flower until September. But it looks dead to me. What should I do with it?

image

I have lots of little baby plants which I'm trying to grow on, which will hopefully go into this bed when they are big enough: 

image

There is more than what is pictured. I've got about 10 trailing campanula, 12 campanula, 12 lithodora and 6 delphiniums. Are these any good? I'm been largely choosing plants on desired colour - maybe this is the wrong thing to do. 

You might be able to see in the background there I've planted up a lavender hedge (hopefully at least). It's about 30 feet in total. How long should I expect to wait until these are knitted together somewhat into an actual hedge? I imagine they won't flower this year, either?

My other bed, I've tried to stick to whites: 

image

I don't know what else can go in there? There is a buddleja at the very back, but it's very small and so I don't think it will grow up enough to flower until next year. 

Thank you all for reading, and thanks in advance for any advice. Please be gentle, I'm very new and really have no idea what I'm doing! 

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  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,045

    Apart from your slug problem you mention 2 others - your joints and your weeds. Have you got a hoe? That can be used from a standing position so you should manage. Your weed problem is due in part to your beds being surrounded by weeds. If the ground around them belongs to you, then you need to tackle that as well or all the weed seeds will end up in the flower beds. After you have thoroughly weeded the beds a thick covering of mulch will help keep it almost weed free - or at least more weed free than now. 

    I have always found slug pellets to be very effective, having tried most other 'remedies' in the past. You need to repeat the dose of pellets every so often .

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,884

    Hi Sally image. You need to look for some fairly robust ground cover plants that won't be too tasty for the slugs. Aubretia come in some lovely bright mauves for the front of your beds, the lithodora should be fine too. Geranium Rozanne is a very easy plant and it covers a lot of ground. It starts flowering quite late, but other blue flowering geraniums can also work well too which start sooner. You need something bright planted under Rozanne for the winter and early spring, when it disappears - crocuses, muscari, reticulata irises, chionodoxa - all bulbs your partner could put in for you in the autumn and which need relatively little care afterwards. Tulips can be tricky to get to come up every year and one option is to grow a few in a pot that you stand in the border while they are flowering and change every year - easy planting in a nice big pot and your partner can presumably put it in place for you at the appropriate time. You could also have some later flowering bulbs - triteleia, for example, or agapanthus. 

    Self seeders like the Love in the Mist you have started, and also aquilegia will spread around and fill in the gaps quite quickly.

    Shrubs then - there's rose called Rhapsody in Blue (it's actually purple) which has lovely scent and seem fairly robust - doesn't suffer from a lot of the common rose diseases. A ceanothus if the garden is quite sheltered. Purple leafed sage is an easy going plant, rosemary will grow well if the soil is reasonably free draining and it's sunny. There are blue flowered hellebores, or black ones which are rather dramatic for winter and provide a dense ground cover. Asters come in startling shades of blue for the autumn.

    You should get a few greens in amongst all the blue, to give some winter infil, and some structure. Holly Blue Princess is quite small, lonicera nitida is tough and easy going, as are the euonymuses (euonymusi? Whatever).

    In the white bed, most of the above have white versions. Maybe a white helianthemum for ground cover instead of lithodora, some white autumn crocus and cyclamen can be beautiful in winter. White oriental poppies are easy plants.

    I'd better stop now. image

    Basically you need to get your partner to help you (or do it for you) to weed as thoroughly as you can once, in about March, then put a thick mulch down of bark chips or rotted manure or grit. This will keep the weeds down quite well. You may need to keep snapping the heads off through the season to stop the weeds that do come up from going to seed. In a year or three if you do this consistently, the weeds will be much reduced - not gone entirely, but much less dominant.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,884

    Oh and for slugs - if you can afford it, use nematodes. At least twice this year (6 weeks apart) and at least once every other year in future. It knocks them right back - much more effective than anything else, but not cheap.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Thank you for your replies. 

    If it was my garden, I would most certainly get it paved - if only because it's very likely I will be in a wheelchair one day. Unfortunately I am in a rented property and so this isn't an option for me right now. I inherited the beds absolutely swamped with nothing but weeds I did have a gardener, but he has refused to come for about 6 months now - a storm blew the fence down, and there are decking steps up to the lawn which have rotted and are unstable to walk on. My landlord is refusing to fix either of them, so now it is pretty much down to me until this is done - if it ever is. Before the gardener quit, he did empty the two beds of weeds, which left me with them empty. The fallen has exacerbated the weed issue, because they are growing in between the slats, which are lying on the ground,  and I (or my partner) are unable to get to them, so I imagine they are chucking seeds or spreading all over the place. The rotten decking steps are between the two beds - and the weeds are rife, but the roots of these weeds are what is actually holding the steps up, if that makes any sense - I did tug at one of them, and all the decking boards started to fall, so I'm scared to rip them out. 

    Thank you so much for your helpful plant advice, raisingirl - I will look up some of your suggestions. I actually do have a little fuchsia in there that I put in there last week. It's small but has lots of little buds on it. I can't remember it's name, but it should flower a purple/blue colour so I'm looking forward to that.

    I do enjoy spending time in my garden, and I like pottering around doing what I can do. My boyfriend is in the process of making me an outdoor day bed - so it would be nice to have a pretty garden to look at whilst I'm out there. I work from home, too - so I have a little 'outdoor office' (an old desk painted with shed paint!) where I work from if it's nice. I know it will take a while to get it half-decent, but I am trying my best :-)  

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532

    Another approach to the slug problem is to grow things they don't like.  In my experience, they tend to leave aromatic plants alone, so lavender was a good choice.  Marjoram, sage, thyme, curry plant, artemisia, oregano, geraniums, pelargoniums, santolina.  All perennial, so you only plant them once, and they can do with very little water.  Lots of them have flowers that feed pollinators.

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 3,362

    Hi Sally, I wonder if the plant that looks dead could be a polemonium (I think also called Jacob's ladder, or similar), I don't find they flower continuously and if it is newly planted I wouldn't expect it to. I would cut the brown stems down to a few inches, water and hope it springs up from the base.

    Lots of plants don't get eaten by slugs so hopefully so can find some that you like, the slugs will live down the sides of the wood used as edging so I don't think you'll be able to get rid of them.

    Hope that helpsimage

  • Thank you - yes the name of it is polemonium, I remember now. 

    There's never been as many slugs until this year - but what you have just said makes me think it is the fallen fence, I imagine under there is a really nice slug home! I really wish the landlord would sort it out - I can't even let my dog out off his lead now, which is a shame. 

  • Oh, and does anybody know what I'm supposed to do with the weeds? I have a huge bag full of them. I'm not allowed to put them in with the garden waste collection, and I'm also not allowed to take them to the garden waste at the tip. What am I supposed to do with them?

  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 22,301

    are you sure they mean all weeds?

    We're not allowed mare's tail or JKW  but others are ok.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • B3 says:

    are you sure they mean all weeds?

    We're not allowed mare's tail or JKW  but others are ok.

    See original post

     Our council just says, 'no invasive weeds'. I'm not too sure what this means!

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