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Cottage garden borders...starting from scratch

We’re new owners of a 1930s cottage that has seen better days! We want to tackle the garden path borders and deep border along the front of the cottage but don’t know where to start. Any recommendations for how we should start? It’s very overgrown at present, and we’re not pro gardeners. Any tips for planting bulbs, plants etc that would give us year round colour?
thank you!


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 8,261
    edited August 2019
    Hello, welcome to the forum  :)
    Just a couple of things to start with.
    Do you know which way the border faces, is it sunny or shady ? Also the path borders .
    What about the soil, is it well drained or a bit claggy? 
    What size of border are we talking about  ?
    And finally, any chance of a couple of photos? 
  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 BirminghamPosts: 685
    As new owners, unless you are already familiar with the garden it may be worth waiting and seeing what’s in there. I would concentrate on getting out any weeds and brambles and trying to identify what shrubs and plants you already have. You can then decide whether you want to keep them and/or if they can be reshaped or rejuvenated. Even if you have things you wouldn’t choose they will give your borders some maturity while any new plants grow and begin to fill the space.

    our cottage garden was a mass of weeds and brambles when we move in and I was fairly sure that there wasn’t much of interest. But we have had surprises every year as plants have popped up, obviously laying dormant under more thuggish competitors. Even last summer, our third here, we two lots of Hemerocallis appear for the first time where we had extended an exiting flower bed.
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 9,778
    I’d agree with Butterfly on the wisdom of waiting for a full year to see what comes up.  I would also spend that year looking at neighbours’ gardens ......they will give great clues about what does well might even be able to cadge a few divisions or seeds its a great way to get to know your new neighbourhood.  Have fun 😀
    We did not inherit the earth from our grandparents.  We’re borrowing it from our children.
  • Thanks already for responding...I should add some clarification! One garden path border is totally new as new lawn was laid. The other side has been mainly ruined by previous construction so there is nothing “on top”. There were a number of tulips that have poked through last year but they are bare apart from that, weeds and lots of grape hyacinths and cornflowers.
    The path borders are approx 1m wide and about 9m in length.
    Any help/advice with these beds in particular would be much appreciated as these lead up to the door. Will take advice and wait longer on the deeper side bed!
    We have clay soil and the beds will get sun in the morning and then shaded by the house in the afternoon/evening.
    Hope that helps!
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 4,452
    For the borders wher you are starting from scratch, the first thing to tackle is soil improvement. The gold standard is to dig over the soil to at least the depth of a spade, working in as much well-rotted manure as you can get hold of and taking out any weed roots and any rubbish that you find. Garden compost would also be good to dig in if you have it (maybe the previous owners left compost bins?), and possibly some grit if the soil is very poorly drained. The aim is to relieve any compaction, remove weed roots, and improve drainage/moisture retention (well-rotted manure is magic, it does both). If you're planning permanent planting this is a one-off step so don't skimp on it. 
    For planting it really depends on what you like and how much time you'll spend looking after it.
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