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Absolute Amateur - Garden Border

Hi all! This is my first post here so please be nice :p

We moved into our first place almost a year ago and the front of the house is looking a little drab. As I say in the title, I am a complete amateur but keen to get my hands dirty - but at the moment my gardening skills are limited to cutting the grass and a little landscaping, building decking etc.

Here is the front of our house at present!

We hate the border in front of the window and want to swap it out for something fuller and better looking, and then to the right of the path there's just a couple of random plants so we'd want to swap them out for something to match whatever we put on the left.

We like the look of set ups like this (image below) with evergreens but some color in as well, and preferably low-ish maintenance with minimal chopping and weeding, we just don't know where to begin. For starters we don't even know the names of plants! (Honestly we're useless, but we all got to start somewhere!)

Can anyone help, please! Maybe if someone can label image above with what the plants are called, and what plants work well with it, and how far apart we should plant them, and the soil type they need, and anything else you think we need to know.

Orrr if anyone has any suggestions for what we could do to spruce the front up a little we're happy to hear them! I'd been looking at gardenonaroll but the reviews are fairly mixed and the prices are a little steep for what they're offering.

Sorry for the long post!

I look forward to your responses :D


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,586

    Welcome to the forum.

    Firstly, are you a tenant and, if so, is it OK with your landlord for you to plant things yourself? Is there an in-house gardening team that maintains the front gardens? If so, is there a danger that they will remove/inadvertently destroy your plants?

    I ask from sad personal experience.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • @pansyface Hi! We are tenants, however, we have free reign as to what we do - we have already obtained permission and other houses on the estate have already swapped out plants and improved the fronts of their properties.

    Thanks for the concern - hope you have your dream garden now after your sad past experience.
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,586
    edited January 2020
    Yes, now I am lady muck.😀

    Next question, do you lead busy lives or do you have hours and hours to spare on fiddling with gardening jobs that might become chores?

    And which way does the house face? The amount of sun is important.

    You can buy soil testing kits to see exactly what kind of soil you have in your garden. On a much more general note, here is an overview of soil in the Telford area, so you could maybe think about azalea bushes which don’t grow too tall and would not impede access to the meter cupboards.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • The front of the house is west facing, so the front of the house gets most of the sun and in the rear we lose sun completely between 5 and 6 in the summer months.

    We do have the time to be out gardening as we get 3/4 days a week off each, however we'd prefer not to be worrying about having to go out to do things, but do it when we fancy doing it kind of attitude. (Once or twice a week is fine with us).

    How expensive are soil testing kits? I'd not heard of them, also, we'd prefer more of a Mediterranean style border with palms and grasses with some colour thrown in, and maybe dot 2/3 small carex in the small gravel section if the soil and conditions allow.

  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,586
    Soil testing kits you can get in any garden centre. Something like this. You don’t need to spend a fortune as you aren’t going to need to do it more than once.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,187
    edited January 2020
    You could have lavender (there are some in your photo), English rather than French as they're pretty tough.  Also dwarf hebes (again in your photo,  the green plants third from the right). Your photo also has Japonica,  the lime green coloured shrubs, and heucheras,  the small plum coloured leaves at the front.
    I would say not to go too mad and cram in everything in one go. My tip for year round colour is to visit a garden centre or nursery at different times of the year and see what's available. You can also get advice about planting distance etc. If you can, try for a local nursery rather than one of the big chains as they tend to be able to give more localised advice. 
    Good luck with it, you have come to the right place for advice  :)
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 9,985
    You can get a general idea of the soil in your area by typing your postcode into the DEFRA supported site.
    Testing kits are variable to say the least.

    I'll have a guess at some of the plants in the pic your posted
    Purple leaves at the front - Heuchera 
    Behind it - dwarf Lavender
    Behind the lavender is Choisya 
    The little round shrubs are either Box or Hebe (or one of each)
    The long purple leaves are some sort of New Zealand Flax
    Behind that maybe is a pittosporum
    The blueish leaves plant maybe clary sage
    and just behind that with purple leaves looks like a Physocarpus

    Good luck with your project
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 7,953
    The lime green plant on the left looks to me like Choisya ternata 'Sundance' (sorry, AnniD).  Also known as Mexican orange blossom.  However, that pretty border has probably just been planted, maybe for a flower show... I wouldn't use Choisya because it gets enormous - up to 8 feet tall.  You'd always be chopping it back...
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,187
    No worries @Liriodendron, l am not really with it today ! I am doing well to identify the lavender to be honest 😁.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 7,953
    I know the feeling, @AnniD...   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
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