My garden is starting to get overwhelming

itsueyitsuey NorfolkPosts: 39
I have an incredibly confused garden; our house was uninhabited for about 9 months before we moved in and the estate agent said none of the previous tenets really maintained the garden any further than mowing the lawn for several years. It's also a slightly odd layout, it's almost in 3 sections, I drew up a plan trying to work out what's in there which I've stuck in below; the section behind the conservatory is obviously the most used, it's got the most work done to it, and the section to the right of the house has a sort of kitchen garden, but the grass is really sloped, and the area at the back is just completely empty and I have no idea what to do to it. I started really enthusiastically thinking oh I'll make it look amazing, I even tried to tell the estate agent what I was doing and discovered she had no interest in gardens at all, but a few months in and it's becoming somewhat daunting.

I don't know how legible my scribbles are, but there's a few massive bush-like trees, a confused mess of about 5 trees in a 1m square space, several rhodedendrons, I've started training jasmine up one of the fences, and I've got some orange honeysuckle which is going on the stray bit of fence in the middle of the garden once I've won my battle with the ivy. 

I've also got an array of things in pots in the conservatory which would like to go in the ground at some point; lavender, cockscombs, night scented stocks, an acer, a raspberry, a slightly unhappy tiny fig tree, if they ever decide to shoot, a purple and a "kronenbourg" bush rose, foxgloves, agastache mexicana blue, echinops ritro blue, forget me nots, I think I planted some cherry blossom seeds, and there's a whole array of other things I've planted, didn't label, and promptly forgot what they are.

Any advice would be amazing because this was supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable and it's not right now.




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  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,431
    Hi, have you bought the house? The best advice is to take it slow, take it bit by bit and focus on trying to enjoy the process. You'll get there!
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 4,872
    edited May 2018
    Okay, take a bit of a step back and a deep breath! You are looking at the whole thing in one go, so no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed. 
    The first thing is to take it one section at a time, so start with the bit nearest to the house and conservatory as that's the bit you see every time you go out of the door. The plants in pots will be okay as long as you keep them fed and watered and many of them can now go outside to help declutter the conservatory a bit. I don't know if you have any help with this, but take advantage of any offer of help you get. We have all felt like this at one time or another, but you're in the right place for advice  :)
    Edited to add, Fire has made a good point, do you own the house, or are you renting? Also remember gardening is a long term thing unless you're Alan Titchmarsh and the Ground Force crew!
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    As above. Take a step back. Theres no rushing a garden. You are not going to get it all looking as you would like it this year. Choose a manageable and natural section (Id agree start with the bit nearest the house, as thats the bit you see most, and also the the bit you presumably can see from the house most easily, but it could just as easily be the bit youd like to sit out in, or any other). Just maintain the rest of the garden as it is this year. Cut the grass, do a bit of weeding if you can, and don't worry about trying to prettify it at all. If its been like that for years it will be like that next year too.

    The plan is very useful and a great start. Photos would help enormously. And its always worth taking photos of the garden anyway, even the untidy, unloved bits, it helps you realise what youve achieved already to look back on when you are feeling daunted.

    In terms of the section you want to start with, decide what kind of look you would like, and then you can start a plan of action. Find some examples of what you like, and photos of what you have, post them on here if you still feel daunted and Im sure you will receive lots of advice as to how to achieve it
  • itsueyitsuey NorfolkPosts: 39
    Renting it, but the estate agent said I can do pretty much whatever I like within reason as no one has bothered with it for years.

    My other half comes outside to give me "moral support" and stares at his laptop while I throw ivy at him, that's about as much help as I get lol. But that is a good point, the rest of the garden can stay grass until I've sorted out the bit I sit in. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 4,872
    Then when you have done that, sit in that bit with a cup of tea or coffee (or something stronger!), and think "Right, l have achieved this, what shall l do next?", and maybe "lose" your OH's laptop now and again - works for me, bribery is a wonderful thing!
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    As you are renting, unless you intend to stay there long term, you dont want to be spending a fortune on it. So if you dont mind the watering, pots are your friends as and when you move. If you want to make it easier, you could try and get hold of some nice attractive big containers/troughs, old metal wheelbarrows, half barrels etc, to plant into. A nicely 'randomly' arranged collection of pots and troughs etc can make for a great seating area. Your plant choices sound quite cottagey so Im assuming thats the kind of look you like? 
    I think pretty much all your stuff can go outside now, (not sure on the fig, am sure someone else can advise though). things like the foxgloves, forget me nots, you could pop in the ground there. They will not last long anyway, but will self-seed around in gaps and crevices adding to that charm.
    If you are likely going to be there more than a couple of years then you could get them in the ground, but no mad rush on that as long as you keep them well watered. 
  • WaysideWayside Posts: 722
    edited May 2018
    Our garden isn't huge, but it's larger than the 4 x 18 ft yard we had for ten years.  When looking at our garden for the first time, I thought no problem!  But sometimes standing in it, it feels more and more unmanageable, depending on energy and mood.  Empty stomach and tiredness - makes it all the more overwhelming.  I'm terribly unorganised at the best of times.  And I'm terrible at trying to tackle too much at once.  I'm always given the advice (but sadly eschew it) to do a little at a time. 

    One thing that bugs me in our garden is not being able to move around the garden.  We collect stuff for garden use inculding too many pots, and to be honest, we just don't have the room.  I long now for some empty space.   A lawned area without much going on could be quite good for the soul, if you have busier places.

    Our front garden is very little, 6 x 8ft on a slope, and we planted a few shrubs and flowers, that soon filled the space.  In fact we over-planted looking now upon reflection.   Those little plants looked so lonely at first.  Our neighbours on the other hand who were renting - put down turf, that actually requires far more effort and time than our little wild space.  Avoid work if you can, and just try and enjoy the space.

    A nearby new neighbour has been busily pulling everything up trying to un-/wild a nicely balanced space that has happily looked after itself for years.  It's easy to make work.  They'll likely learn in time, that trying to keep on top of the entire garden is actually quite a tall order.

    In contrast, another garden nearby, that wasn't touched in the slightest for three years, got a heavy handed seeing to over the course of just one day.  It looked better as wilderness, but wasn't really usable.

    Balance and a hammock required.


  • itsueyitsuey NorfolkPosts: 39
    We're planning on staying here a while, probably until we can afford our own house, so I don't mind spending a bit of money and time to make it look nice, less effort than going to the gym, and I'm sure I get just as much exercise.

    Unfortunately my other half really isn't the hands-on sort, even if I lost his laptop, he'd flap in a panicky manner and probably pull up the wrong plants! 

    I think my tastes probably are quite cottagey, I like things to err on the side of chaos rather than regimented lines. I like the idea of a wheelbarrow full of flowers though, I might have to try and work that in somewhere. 

    I'm not sure if my fig should be outside, I thought it might perk it up a bit being somewhere not swelteringly hot, although I think that might have backfired for my bamboo, it's looking even more unhealthy than the fig! 

    I'd love a hammock, unfortunately I don't have any trees which will support one. I keep trying to get one of those hanging egg chairs from B&M but they're constantly out of stock.
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    Its a bit tricky without seeing photos, but in that case to get a quick fix of achievement I would definitely concentrate on this bit;

    What is the ground there: lawn, soil, weeds? If lawn one idea cut be to cut that area shorter than the rest to give the impression of a manicured area and a wilder area. Either weed the borders/soil around the house and fences there thoroughly to give you a decent starting point. Maybe mulch the borders with bark chip, that can make things appear much more organised very quickly. Then get any plants you want in the ground in, or arrange your pots into a smaller area within it with some seating, open a bottle of wine, take a bit of time to appreciate all youve already achieved and have a good old look and think about what you would like to do to it
  • itsueyitsuey NorfolkPosts: 39
    That's where I've decided to start. It's currently lawn but there's a lot of small flowers in it and the dreaded horsetail is slowly creeping ever closer to the house. I did consider putting down some bark chip as there's a small group of nettles in the corner that don't want to go away, but there's also bluebells in there that I don't want to impede. Will bulbs survive having bark chip over the top of them?
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