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Help me with this unloved garden...

Hi all,

This is my first post, but I've been getting inspiration from this forum for years...

I'm about to move house, a much bigger house, with a much smaller garden. The garden, like the house, is a little unloved, and I'm just looking for a few 'small garden' ideas.

See attached photo. The back of the garden is a good 2ft higher than the front. The lawn is about a foot higher than the side path and patio. The main patio is off-photo and is about 8ft deep, currently (badly) decked but with standard grey utility paving (600x600) underneath.

The shed you can see in the far corner goes behind the extension and is roughly 7x10ft. The garden is roughly 35ft long x 15ft wide.

Id like to bring the lawn down to the level of the path and the patio - I assume this is going to be a simple, but backbreaking, case of digging it out and relaying the lawn?

The patio and path will remain in place, but I will likely reflag with some sandstone. 

I'd like to do something with the back of the garden, the shed will be going, and I will use that alcove for some sort of storage. I'd like a space for an arbour, a gas bbq and a smal greenhouse as the garden is south-west facing so I think even though it's sheltered on all sides it will still get some nice sun year round.

I'd love you ideas for incorporating these features, or anything else you think would be good to do with a small garden such as this.


  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,019
    I think I would start off by thinking of removing the lawn altogether...………..
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,286
    Welcome Chris, I was a long time lurker too.

    So that is a new to the building extension by the narrow path?
    I would take my time and have a tentative exploratory dig in the lawn. It may be honest, but you may find rubble, or spoil from the extension, or it may have been raised because of boggy ground.
    Sometimes people use gravel for a quick fix tidy up, like the bed along the other side, but check it all out after rain and a day or two after and see how the land there drains.

    Is the land of your neighbour (to the right in photo) higher too?
    Consider that if it is higher and slopes towards yours.
    There is nothing worse than making plans only to find you have to change them once underway. Is there good access to the front so you can move stuff in and out easily.

    Have you seen madpenguins garden in this thread. Scroll down on first page.

    Not saying your garden is boggy, like poor Dans, just some ideas from madpenguins really gorgeous garden.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,730
    Other than cleaning your camera lens, I would do nothing for a while other than carefully measure the space and note how the light changes as the sun travels round as that will dictate the best place for an arbour.   You also need to work out how you use the house and which downstairs window will be the main view of the garden so you can plan to put some interesting features opposite it.

    I would lift all that gravel from the path on the right and make a 3' wide bed along there to accommodate climbing or rambling roses and clematis to cover that very brown fence.   You'll need supports tho so check if they can be attached to the fence or whether you need a series of posts and tendioned wires just in front.   The rest of the bed can be filled with winter and spring bulbs and a mix of perennials and other shrubs to give colour, form and perfume throughout the year.

    If you hire a turf stripper, it won't be too hard to remove the grass and stack it to break down and then use excavated soil to build up the beds round that fence.

    If you want to make the garden seem wider, you need to think about diagonal lines or circles rather than straight borders so, like I said, give it some thought - better to plan and do it once than to have to re-do or re-jig......
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks all for your much needed insight.

    The camera lens is fine, it was just taken through an upstairs window on our second viewing.

    The neighbours (to the right of the photo) have a lovely garden which they let us have a good look round, it's a stunning space they have with lots of interesting features, however they have a larger plot as they have not extended and their garden wraps around the side. It does not seem to slope upwards from front to back.

    There is good access to garden from the front so taking things from front to back will not be an issue.

    I like the idea of incorporating some diagonals. 

    We are moving from a house with a 90ft long garden which we struggle to maintain, all we want is a relaxing space to look out from either the family room in the extension or the lounge.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,730
    Time to sit and draw it out to scae and then doodle designs then.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 3,079
    Agree with @Obelixx here. When planning/designing a garden, drawing out a map/plan is essential.
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,569
    edited November 2018
    As someone who had to live for five years next door to fanatical barbecue users (every summer evening and all weekend) I would urge you to place your barbecue where the prevailing wind blows the smoke and fumes towards your own windows rather than towards your neighbours’ properties.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 8,094
    I would definitely do something with that area outside the doors.You have only a paving slab width before the sleeper (?) up to the lawn. I'm finding it hard to gauge the levels from the photo  - is it possible to level it off by removing the sleepers etc and get most if not all of it on one level, or is that a step too far, if you pardon the rather bad pun! 
    As a long time lurker, you know you have come to the right place for advice, and this is definitely the right time of year for drawing up plans @chrisdleech :) 
  • Sorry I don't agree that small lawns look silly. Well kept lawns of any size look lovely as part of a varied garden
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,730
    Not if they end up being just a couple of square metres big.  Then they are more bother than they're worth.   
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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