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Please help me plan new borders- beginner...

 I have hopefully attached a few photos.  They are of the back of the garden which is roughly 7m long and 8m wide.  The left hand wall is south-ish so behind that drystone wall is very shady (and dry due to overgrown yew trees on the other side of the wall.  The grass doesn't grow that well there either.
Their is normally a rotary dryer in the middle of the grass in summer.  The right side border and right side of the back gets a fair bit of sun in summer.

The bottom of the left hand border gets some sun for a couple of hours before it goes behind the trees.  The whole thing is relative sheltered.  There is a Kerria japonica in the wider square at the bottom of the left side.

In the shady left border I have some ferns, pulmonaria and brunerra that do well.

I would like to extend the borders and get rid of some grass this year- I can't get rid of it completely as we have a dog.  

I was thinking of making the borders follow a much more curved/circular  area- so maybe making the grass more circular centrally and the left border being much wider at the bottom (where it gets a little sun and being overall wider as it sweeps up.

What sort of plants should I put in the shady areas, and then the sunnier parts?

I planted a Salvia hotlips at the woodshed a couple of years ago and that did really well but I think I will try and move it back at the side of the woodshed as it is a bit big for where it is.  

I often buy random plants and put them in but would love to plan this out a little more over the next few months and make a better job  of it. 

Can anyone give me any pointers or help please?  Thank you 



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,099
    Hello and welcome.

    First of all, what you can grow well depends a great deal on where you are as that affects light levels thru the year and also temperatures and rainfall.  secondly, it depends on what kind of soil you have - acid, neutral or alkaline then sandy, loamy, stony, clay so we need to know your rough location and the soil please.   

    Is that yew hedge yours or your neighbours and can it perhaps be trimmed?  Yew does respond well to pruning and will grow back healthy and beautiful if it's done well.

    One important thing in a small garden is not to fill it with bitty, dotty plants.  You need one or two large ones to make it look more balanced and groups of others planted in 3s, 5s or 7s so they don't get lost.

    Have a look at this info here - and here - for design pointers and think about your preferred colours, if any, your pet hates, if any and also how much time you have to spend on the garden.  

    Pinterest is a good source of ideas too -

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LisaLLisaL Posts: 12

    I am in Peak District so Midlands roughly.  I think the soil is quite clay like.  There are also quite a lot of roots. We are on the border of the gritstone/limestone area. 

    The trees next door hopefully will get taken back but the property is empty and up for sale.  It is a massive place and will likely be redeveloped into smaller dwellings or turned into a b and b.

    I will try and check the pH after work.  

    I have been trimming back the over hanging yew as much as possible and filled the greenbin with off cuts on Sunday so will do more when that is emptied.  The other empty property also has a horrible Leylandi row on the other side which has shot up about 8 foot over the last couple of years since I moved in and now blocks my beautiful view of the hills from our windows.  Hopefully that will go when it is sold too. 

    Thank you for your input, I shall check out the links. 

  • LisaLLisaL Posts: 12
    I have just checked on the soilscape website and according to the map we have 'Freely draining slightly acid but base-rich soils, with a loamy texture'.

    When I am home in daylight I will try and check the pH.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,661
    That soil sounds OK for most plants.

    While I agree that plants planted in 3s, 5s and 7s look good in large borders it is not always practical for smaller gardens. Also can get expensive. You can always divide the plants later when they get big. In a shady border I would try to make the most of leaf sizes, colours and textures using plants like hostas, Brunnera (especially the silvery leaved ones like Jack Frost), ferns (if the soil is dry you can use Dryopteris), Heuchera, Tiarella, Astilbe (if the soil is moist), a not too invasive Lamium like Beacon Silver, Aquilegias, Epimediums and the neater sorts of autumn anemone.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,099
    Yes, should have said.  If you can buy small plants you'll save money that way or buy one big plant you can split.  Lots of hardy perennials lend themselves to this.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LisaLLisaL Posts: 12
    I have started digging out today whilst the sun was out this morning.  The rest will be done in a few days when my back recovers!

    I am keeping a circle of grass for the dog and washing line.  We sit out on a sunny south facing terrace at the side.

    We then went to the garden centre and bought a few reduced shrubs which will hopefully be OK in spring.  I'm not planting them in yet until we have planned a bit more.  I have also moved the Salvia hotlips to a better position.  

    Everything is now battoned down for the winds tomorrow! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,099
    Looks good so far.  Well done.

    Once the storm is safely past I advise getting your new shrubs in teh ground asap so their roots can go and explore and establish themselves while it's still cool and damp.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LisaLLisaL Posts: 12
    Rik56 said:
    Looks great but think carefully about keepng the lawn... all that effort and time just for a small circle of grass. (incidentally, why does your dog need grass?)
    He is old and set in his ways more than anything.  I am toying with the idea of getting rid of it but that might be next year.  There is no access for machinery round the back so we would need to move everything for a patio base by hand and wheel barrow up the hill at the side of the house and along the terrace to reach this bit.  I'm not sure how much work a stone circle slab type arrangement on the central bit would take :neutral:
  • LisaLLisaL Posts: 12
    Last bit dug up today.  The grass strip will go but I am just keeping it for cleaner access at the moment.

    Most of the turf is upside down in the back left corner where I had a pile of rocks that had previously been dug out from another area.  

    I've got some more roots to dig out the left side and then need to go and get plants :)
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