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Overlooked, East-Facing Garden - total newbie!


I hope it's okay for me to post this here.

I've just bought my first house. It's actually the first time I've had a garden - always been flats before now. So, of course, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I've tried googling around about different things but it's quite overwhelming...!

The garden is very very overlooked (Portsmouth!) and is East-facing. The picture below was taken at 11am. You can see the right hand side is North-facing so never gets any light. The decking there is completely rotten - I'll need to pull it up or replace it. No idea about the small wall at the back - there seems to be sandy soil either side so perhaps I could get rid of it to plant climbers?

I'm looking for ways to make my little square of land a nice place to sit in the morning and/or evening (although I appreciate, no sun then!). I'd like something with a bit of height at the back to make the back wall less severe and maybe give some privacy (or at least the illusion of such). Privacy is kind of what I'm going for. Surrounding gardens have grown a lot up their fences/walls and have trees (like you can see on the right). No idea what to do with the North facing bit. Would anything I plant there die?

I would appreciate any advice at all!

Many thanks.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    What is under the white pebbles/rocks on top of the small wall?  Could it actually be a raised planter with soil under the pebbles?
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Unfortunately, the pebbles are just glued/cemented to the top of the solid wall. :( It's the gap between the decking and the wall - presumably it was left as some kind of planting space, and then an owner decided that was too high maintenance and put a wall there...
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited April 2018
    That's a shame as you could have grown clematis in there, many of which can be grown in shade.  As it serves no purpose, I'd remove it - you may be able to salvage the bricks and build a raised bed/planter there.  Given the decking is rotting, perhaps remove all of that too as well as the bit of paving in the foreground which I also can't quite see the purpose of.  With a blank canvas you will hopefully then find some soil somewhere beneath which you can use to plant taller things - very few climbers are happy in pots or troughs unless those are substantial in size. 
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Yes, rip out first, then get back to soil. Then drape all the walls with climbers and fences with climbers. Do any maintenance (e.g. painting) on walls/fence first!

    Use or reuse some slabs to make a little patio for sitting on and then plant the rest up. Try to avoid too many straight lines, gentle curves look better in a small garden. If you can, give the edge of the patio a gentle curve.

    North facing is difficult to plant up, but there are plants for every place (many ferns are happy in low light locations), you just have to be a little more careful when selecting for "difficult" places.

    Is there another garden behind the rear brick wall or is it a road/path?
  • Okay, that's definitely doable. Remove the wall, decking and slabs, reveal soil.

    Behind the rear brick wall is the parking area for the cul-de-sac behind me.

    I guess each wall/fence will require a different kind of climber, depending on level of sun? Esp north wall - would it have to be ivy or similar? As I said, I have no idea, so I'll just be turning up at the garden centre with a list! :) Does the type of soil make a difference, too? 
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited April 2018
    Have a look at the RHS recommendations for climbers for shady walls:
    As you can see, lots more choice than you'd think!  :)

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Oh my goodness that's actually TOO MUCH choice!!!!!
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Does the type of soil make a difference, too? 
    Certainly does. And whether it's wet or dry.

    Once you've ripped out you'll be able to get a better idea of what's where. Builders are notorious for using gardens as tipping grounds when building new houses, so who knows what's there! I removed 8'x4' sheets of plywood from under the (dying) grass of my very first garden.

    Get the bones sorted and then worry about the plants. Or rather, enjoy selecting plants to match your conditions :)
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Forgot to say, there's a nice image here, showing what can be done with a small walled garden ...
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 Posts: 5,150
    Hi Little Fox. I'm east facing too and have paved the shady right hand side of my garden, making it easy to blast off the moss and algae with a jet-wash in the spring.

    I have a lot of shade living stuff in pots that I put there. Hostas, ferns, astilbes, fuschias and the like.
    I'm trying out a clematis "Warwickshire Rose" on the fence. There's a strip of gravel between the fence and paving, so I was able to dig down and get its feet in the ground.

    For sitting out at mine, it's breakfast cuppa near the house with the early morning sunshine, evening sun lands in the top left corner. On hot days in summer I like to sit on the shady side looking towards my flowers growing on the sunny side 😊.

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