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inherited a garden and have no idea what to do

Hi all, I recently moved into a new apartment and inherited a garden that seemed to be someones pride and joy. After about 2 months i recently aggressively pruned some things and now have realized I have no idea what the hell I am doing. Please help. ' 


  • InglezinhoInglezinho Posts: 568
    I don't think it was you who didn't know what they were doing, but the previous owner. I hesitate to call them gardener. I think it would be pretty futile trying to identify the plants, as it obvious that most them of them are totally unsuitable for the situation. The exception is the red-flowered climber, Campsis radicans, Red Trumpet vine. This is a really choice plant and seems to be flowering, so there is enough sun. This is a real stunner but will need some support as it can grow to 10 meters or more. As for the rest, I think you have no choice but to dig it out. I'm guessing this garden is west-facing, which would be ideal for Fuschias. Another suggestion, also small bushes, is Ceanothus (California Lilac) or Hebe. Both are well-behaved and blue-flowering, so a nice contrast with the red Trumpet vine. If you grow fuschias, my no.1 choice, you will need to cut them back hard at the end of winter, as the frost will kill the top growth. Good luck.
    Everyone likes butterflies. Nobody likes caterpillars.
  • Thanks so much for the insight! Would you recommend that I rip out that ground cloth? Would I need a new one? And any recommendations for getting the soil back to working order? 
  • InglezinhoInglezinho Posts: 568
    The idea of ground cloth is to suppress weeds. I've never liked it, because it prevents rain from getting to the roots, so unless you especially want a Mediterranean garden......I'm afraid weeding is one of the essential chores, but if you plant the right stuff it is usually just cosmetic. As far as soil is concerned, the best thing is compost. If you don't have conditions for making this yourself, a bag of bark-based stuff round the roots will usually do the job. Good luck. Ian.
    Everyone likes butterflies. Nobody likes caterpillars.
  • Joy*Joy* Posts: 571
    I would begin by giving it a really good tidy. If you remove all the dead leaves and weeds you will get a better idea of where to go next. You obviously have an irrigation system to save time watering so I would look after that. If you can't identify your plants I would go to a garden centre and see if you can spot them there. Then, when you have a better idea of what there is, it will be easier to work out what needs to be done. Random pruning might not be the best plan. Some of the planting seems to have been designed to provide some privacy so you might want to keep some things along the boundaries until you have had time to consider things. The conifers look as though they have been topped but are perhaps not the best choice. I think that the person who planted the garden was looking for one which was low maintenance but would look attractive hence spending money on the watering system but it has got a bit neglected. 
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,562
     Even if it was someone's pride and joy, there's no need to try and keep it the same if it's not to your taste. Take your time, look at other gardens if you can, and decide what you like. You can always ask on here if you're not sure whether something would suit the conditions you have. Post pics of individual plants if you wa t help with ID.
    Personally I would clear out dead leaves etc and any obvious weeds, and I would take out the conifers and the membrane, then wait until at least next spring to see if there are bulbs etc and to see if any of the shrubs flower nicely. On the plus side it looks like there's a good structure underneath (the brick paving and edging).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Dave HumbyDave Humby Posts: 1,145
    I don't think it's too bad! It largely depends on what you want out of the space Kevin? I'm guessing you'd like a relatively low maintenance garden or maybe you fancy a more hands on approach? I'd certainly tidy up the landscape fabric, which, by the way does let water pass through. It suppresses weeds through starving them of light not the soil of water. You could add a 'mulch' of bark or stone to the planting areas to keep the weeds at bay and improve the aesthetics. Keep an eye on the Leylandii as they will gallop away. Be careful with your 'aggressive' pruning of these as if you cut back into brown wood it won't regrow and will look ugly. Regular trimming is the way. Enjoy the space!
  • AsarumAsarum Posts: 655
    I would get rid of the landscape fabric (horrid stuff that always ends up a mess) and the irrigation system and have a good tidy up.  Then wait and see if you can identify the plants.  I think it has the makings of a nice garden.
    East Anglia
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,914
    It very much depends on how you want to use it Kevin  :)
    Are you planning on "getting into gardening", or do you just want easy maintenance ?
    Personally, if the irrigation system is in good condition l would keep it if you don't want to be lugging watering cans or a hosepipe about. I assume you can remove it then put it back later.
    I would remove the landscape fabric,  that way you can see what the soil is like and take it from there.
    The other thing l would do is take out any plant you just don't like the look of, it does seem to have been planted in a bit of a haphazard way. The point about privacy is a good one which you might want to bear in mind. 
    As has been said above, it's your garden now, so you don't need to stick to what was done before. 
    You've come to the right place for advice and identification of anything you want to keep !
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,631
    The landcsae fabric is there to keep down weeds.  The irrigation system is there to provide water with no fuss.   As you've only been there a couple of onthe there will be plenty of hidden treasures (and maybe evils) to come so the best plan, which applies to any new garden, is to watch and wait and see.

    Take photos.  Make notes.  Take out any obvious weeds.   Trim anything that ambushes you when walking around but don't do aggressive pruning just yet.   Watch where the sun shines and for how long.  Take photos in the morning and the evening and every week or so to help you document what happens, what you like and want to keep, what you don't like and want to get rid of.

    That tall clump of grass looks like miscanthus zebrinus - easy to grow, striking looking.  Just needs a severe haircut in late winter/early spring before th enew shoots start to appear and that will keep it looking good.

    The shrubs look like cytisus/broom, spiraea, viburnum which have different flowering tmes and forms.   You can look these up on the RHS website to find out whch you have and when and how to prune them eg scroll down and follow links.   

    I don't think those conifers add anything and, left alone, they will grow huge and become dark and dominant.  I would get rid at the first opportunity, improve teh soil and plant something inetresting but you ay like them.  If so, look them up on the Rhs site for when and how to prune them to keep them under control.  The most important thing is never to cut back into brown wood.  Always leave some greenery as they don't regrow from brown wood.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,517
    Hi Kevin,
    Naturally you are getting a lot of contradictory advice which is hardly surprising as everyone has their own take on what makes a good garden. Obelixx is right when suggesting you watch and wait. If you clear away all the rubbish and keep the paths clear that will make a huge difference. You can then sit back and wait to see what grows and what flowers. If you don't like the look of anything, get rid of it. It's your garden and you can change it as you see fit. If the conifers have been cut off at the top, then they aren't going to do anything spectacular in future and may as well go.
    The weed suppression fabric is ugly as hell and should be covered with a mulch of bark to hide it from discerning viewers but if that isn't possible, then gradually get rid of the stuff. Really nasty weeds will find a way through it anyway.
    To brighten up the garden for spring, consider planting some bulbs in big pots as you don't know if there are any already planted in the flower beds and it would be nice to have some colour.
    The brick path is lovely.
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