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Small ugly garden with potential


I am a very amateur gardener, who dithers a lot. We moved into our new house at the end of August and had to do a lot to it. The previous owners left it in a dump, including the garden. There was dog mess everywhere, which stunk, bricks, broken fence parts and this monstrous shed that dominates the garden.

I've attached a photo of the garden - new turf laid by the hubby  ( it's filled out nicely now and doesn't look like a jigsaw!), the brick wall has come down and the broken fence panels have been replaced with new willow trellis on top part. I can't remove the shed (yet) so that has to stay put. When we eventually get rid of it, we won't be able to dig up the foundations either so it will probably be good ol' decking and lots of pots.

It is south facing with loamy soil. 

This is where I dither...

I want to paint/stain shed and fence - a warm grey. Then have 2 or 3 separate raised beds where the brick wall was. Inbetween the raised beds, I was thinking of putting ornamental trees or a climbing rose or something that can climb/train (we're friendly with the neighbours but want some privacy). 

I would love railway sleeper raised beds but we won't be able to afford it. I have looked at breeze blocks (either rendered or painted white with a wooden trim along the top. Use a liner to protect for longer. Hubby is also quite keen on a bit of pallet upcycling. I don't know if that would last as long? 

This is where i dither: I like Mediterranean style gardens (purples, whites, silver but want a pop of colour). I also want plants that are good for the bees. Has anyone got any suggestions for the space.

I have two children under two.


Last edited: 20 February 2018 14:36:45



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    Last edited: 20 February 2018 14:39:54

  • Trying to upload a photo but can't seem to view it.. apologies if there are about 30!


  • There's a glitch on the site ... it's being worked on ... hopefully we'll be able to post pics again soon.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,912

    There's currently a glitch in the photo uploading - pop back later and hopefully it'll be fixed. We'll all be waiting to see your garden - sounds like you've done loads already.

    Are you in the UK and if so are you north, south, east or west? (Mediterranean style being easier in some parts of the UK than in others).

    One general comment - it doesn't all have to be 'done' in a year or two, You can dither away quite cheerfully. For example, you could let your OH try out an up-cycled pallet and if it rots or you don't like it, you can replace it with something else in a while, when funds permit. 

    It can grow with you and your children and your available finances. Pretty annuals grown from seeds in pots for a year or two are cheap and cheerful. They can be replaced with strawberries and sunflowers and things that are fun for the children when they get a little older and want to join in, or with stylish perennials when there's less risk of them being sat on by a stray toddler.

    Dithering is fine - good even. The key is to try something and THEN dither. Just jump in and change it if you decide you don't like it image

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • FireFire Posts: 17,398

    I would agree with RG. although it's tempting, There's no rush. Dithering is part of it all.

    A strong set of foundations might become an opportunity in future years if you want to put in some other structure. They can be a major project to put back. I would keep an eye on reclamation yards and local demolition projects (via Facebook / Gumtree / local social media / Freecycle, if you do that kind of thing). All sorts of unexpected usefulness pops up on these groups, including tiling, beams, sleepers etc. If you can arrange transport and do the construction work yourself you can sometimes build things / get things for a bargain / for free.

    Which brings me on to - get to know your neighbours / local community garden projects / allotments etc. They can often source free / cheap garden resources. My local garden club do a lot of group buying so we can split the delivery costs. A thing is only seen as a resource until you don't want it any more, then it's a pain and you would pay someone to take it away. Around where I live, there is a roaring trade in free soil, gravel, firewood, plants, planters, sand - things you would pay a lot for if it was in the right place at the right time. Have fun with your garden project. Good luck. 

  • Finally got it to load a photo! It is also a strange shape.

    Thank you for all your replies. My mum is a patient gardener and I am learning to be! So you are absolutely correct about it not having to be completely done straight away.  I guess, I just have a vision of it all looking beautiful yet practical for spring/summer. It leads to a communal garage so I'd like it to be a refuge.

    It a south facing garden in Hertfordshire. We have an allotment near us so I will definitely ask about cheap garden material and we are near a lot farms too.

    We will be (soon) creating two wooden raised beds where the broken wall was. Inbetween that will go a small tree that we can train. 

    I have total babybrain so all my decision making skills have gone out the window. I want to paint all the wood in the garden as I really don't like the colour. Grey is my go to colour and maybe paint the raised beds white. It's safe but think it could compliment the med style planting. I don't know?  :s
  • amberspyamberspy Posts: 382
    I’ve grey fences in my garden and love them it I only painted them last year but really makes plants stand out more with a dark background 
  • amberspyamberspy Posts: 382

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,164
    I tried a light grey fence paint (think it was called 'silver birch)  in a previous garden ......... ended up looking like a tad prison-like .......  and it was really oppressive.  I've seen a matt black work really well in small gardens ... it sort of fades into the background once you've got a few plants and climbers in front of it, and of course being black absorbs the warmth which is good for the plants.  
    I don't know why, but that shed says 'plant a grapevine' to me  :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • I know the colour you are talking about @Dovefromabove :D  it does look like a prison! We have a sample of it and tested it on the new fence to the right and current on the left.  It blends in with concrete girders. 

    It makes sense about the black paint too. I'm desperate to cover the monster shed. Something fast growing.

    I really love that colour @amberspy <3 what did you use? 
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