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gravel into woodland glade?

hi everyone! First post so hopefully it makes sense and posted in the right place image

i have a pretty large garen, and I'm new to gardening but really want to create something beautiful (and low maintaince - if that's possible!) it's not the easiest to work (sloping, clay/ poor draining - lots of weeds and old trees)

But I do have a decent sized shaded / graveled area, under dome trees which I would class as dry shade. One half gets good light for a portion of the day, the other is dappled sunlight. 

at the moment its a bit of a dumping ground as we clear the rest of the garden, but I'm hoping to get some on advice on how (and if it's worth) lifting the gravel / cloth and planting things like ferns / snowdrops? I'd love this to have year round interest and doesn't require much mowing but not sure where to start and what plants would thrive.

Not sure if this is to many things on a wishlist for a novice but any help and advice is greatly appreciated!  thank you! 


  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,364

    There are many plants that will do well in dry shade, too mant to list.

    Try the RHS site.

    With a bit of work and some soil improvement before you start, you could make it lovely. 

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996

    Hi - you'll be able to turn that into something very attractive. It's a bit difficult to cover in a few sentences, but you're already thinking along the right line with ferns and snowdrops. image

    It's really a question of how quickly you want to renovate the area, and how big your budget is, as well as how much time and effort you have to put in initially. If you can upload a few pix, that will help with ideas for plants. You may want a few evergreens for a bit of all year round interest, and you can add perennials and bulbs etc to that basic framework. If you see it from your house, year round interest is a good idea. 

    First thing is to tackle the main space, by removing anything that's undesirable - weeds etc. and generally tidy the area you want to plant up. Remove the gravel and membrane , and then loosen up the soil as it will probably be a bit compacted and unhealthy where it's been covered. 

    The planting will depend on how much room there is, and how quickly you want to get it all going, but the addition of well rotted manure and compost will give you a good base for anything.  Clay is the best medium for plants as it's very nutritious, and the manure and compost will break it up and help with drainage. If you have deciduous trees, collect the leaves in autumn, and make leaf mould with them. It's very valuable for the soil and as a mulch. Often, it's the prep that's the  most important bit of any planting area. A mulch of bark is a good way to 'set off' a woodland garden too, as it looks natural, and gives you a firm area to walk on. No need for high maintenance, except adding to it when it breaks down.

    Once you have it ready to go, you'll get carried away with plants, as there are loads which will suit. Whites and pale colours are perfect, as they help to lighten up the shade. There will be lots of suggestions and help with that as you go along, so don't be afraid to come back and ask once you're ready to go with the planting.

    Hope that's a few thoughts to start with  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hi punkdoc a fairygirl! Thanks so much for your advice and encouragement! 

    Here are are some pics of the area, as mentioned - currently a dumping ground but skip / freecyling the non garden stuff this weekend! Hopefully this will give you a better idea of the space - doesn't look it but it's actually pretty big, that's an 8x6 shed and 10ft scaffold poles for some scale, massive oak and fir type tree, also a laburnum in there, plenty of ivy and some others I can't identify yet! There are some areas of slabs which I'll keep and maybe pop in a bistro set to sit! Lots of evergreen but also plenty of leaves that fall in this area. 

    Would I be best to gather them or leave them as they fall, once the gravel and membrane is lifted? 

    where my house is, it's quite a lot of steps for any sort of manure or compost to be delivered in bulk, i couldn't get a kerbside delivery and wheelbarrow for example, so do you have any recommendations on where to go or what to look for that won't be ultra heavy? appreciate that prep is the most important step ☺️

    time wise - I work full time but would be happy to put in full weekend days till it's established, and then after about an hour a day for the whole garden, every few days. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. 

    On looking closer, the area can get quite wet in some areas, I'm in Scotland too which means strong winds and very cold temperatures. i also notice that im about a 2-5 weeks behind other houses in my area for certain pants to bloom. Things like roses, daffs, gladioli, giant daisy, snowdrops etc - all come late in my garden. Will this affect when and what I plant in this area? 

    so for prep - am I better doing it now, and working on the soil now, or wait till next year when it's warmer before lifting membrane etc? i have plenty to do in the other parts of the garden haha! 





    Thanks so much for your help! 

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