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Help a novice come up with some design ideas please?

Hey folks

Over the past 3 years I have been focusing on fixing a horrible mossy lawn. I am getting there slowly, but need more work yet.

I dug out some old beds and resowed over them... now I want to plant some shrubs and flowers and interesting things to bring my garden to life... 

I am a young guy, with no knowledge of gardening really. Learning as I go...

What can I do with this garden? At the moment all that has been added since we took over is build a back fence to seal off neighbours, and added  two rose climbers in picture 1.

^ looking southwards

^ looking west, plants facing east

^ shady back corner (south west), shady come 3.30/4pm 

Appreciate any advice!


  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 16,424
    As you dug out old beds, is that to say you don't want any beds?
  • ZappaZappa Posts: 17
    edited April 2018
    I dug out an old bed that had loads of weeds and onion plants and all sorts of mess in it, then added clean top soil and sowed it, as I had no plans to develop it further at that time.

    I would love a defining border between the lawn and the beds that will run down the fences. The general consensus seems to be 'straight lines are boring', but I am not sure I will be able to bend wood effectively and make it work with posts and such. 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,845
    How much time can you spare? You also need to find out what kind of soil you have. I would suggest doing one bed near to the house to start with and then slowly work your way down the garden. You need a decent width for beds and borders - approx. 1 to 1.5 metres is good. Think what do you want to do in the garden and how you want it to look. There's a very good monthly magazine called "Modern Gardens" aimed at younger gardeners which might give you some good ideas.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 16,424
    Some food for inspiration here  and here
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    You've got a good-sized garden there and will be able to do a lot with it if the gardening bug bites! Try getting hold of a copy of The Very Small Garden by Martin Baxendale. It's the first gardening book I ever bought (and my first garden was a lot smaller than yours) and it's full of good advice on how to pack a lot of plants into a garden.

    Apart from that, yes, avoid straight lines! If you want a path, make it curved. And have curved edges to any beds you put in against the fences or near to that straight path by the side of the house. Get it right and you'll have increased privacy and somewhere to relieve the stresses of the day job. But don't be afraid to make mistakes. Above all, have fun!
  • The first thing that comes up to my mind when I see the pictures of your garden is that it is rather long and narrow. I would personally start by dividing up the space within it. Not being able to see everything in one go will actually create an illusion of space, size and give intrigue to your garden. Maybe you could divide your garden in 3 or 4 different areas for different purposes (I. e. sitting area for entertainment, kids play area, vegetable growing, secret garden...).  Division of the space can be accomplished with hedges, trees and shrubs, vines, or fences and other structures. 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,682
    One of the simpler options on a long rectangle shape garden is to create interest in straight lines going diagonal. Cut large triangles to create almost a zig-zag path either off centre or near the centre.

    In doing these beds, you are creating large borders that sweep deeper and then narrow again, but avoiding too many curves that only suits in huge spaces. In smaller to medium gardens, curves can seem forced and fussy. It stops your view to the end. Height from future planting schemes will obscure your view through to the end of your garden, and that helps to create mystery and interest in a rectangle shaped garden.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 32,973
    Zappa said:
     The general consensus seems to be 'straight lines are boring', but I am not sure I will be able to bend wood effectively and make it work with posts and such. 
    I profoundly disagree that straight lines are boring. 
    Anyway, it's your garden, never mind the "consensus", you do what you want, not what "they" think you should have, be it straight lines, circles, curves or combinations. 
    Gardens should be fun and reflect the owner's taste not " the consensus"
    I'd measure the garden accurately and draw up a scale plan. Put some greaseproof paper over it and doodle some ideas, straight , curved or otherwise over the top of your plan.
  • samwarner37samwarner37 Posts: 2
    edited April 2018
    the first thing I'd think about is strategic planting which will grow to hide the things you don't want to see like neighbouring roofs.  looking at the photos it looks like you could make it seem as though there are no other buildings around. 

    Agree with the above about checking soil type and measuring and drawing a scale plan.

    It would be great if you could visit gardens near you to nosy around and get ideas . . . through
  • ZappaZappa Posts: 17
    @DampGardenMan - thanks I just bought that book for £3 on amazon! :) Look forward to reading it.

    I plan to go to Mount Stewart, a well known local garden for some inspiration, to see what grows well here also. 

    I will draw up a plan and see what can be done. @Hostafan1 - You are absolutely right, thanks for that,....I may have to go straight lines for borders anyway, as I don't trust myself enough to dig proper border trenches and be able to bend the wood with the posts etc. 

    I have access to software which can help me draw a plan, I will have a think and post something up soon :)

    I definitely like the thought of a few raised beds to grow veg. I have earmarked a place, over to the left, there is a narrow strip behind the washing line where I think would be perfect for a couple of experiments. 
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