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Bought a new house, need real help with the garden!

edited May 2020 in Garden design
Hey all, 

I have attached some pictures so hopefully that helps. We bought a fixer upper house, very cheaply that was seriously neglected by the previous owners. Due to working from home for the foreseeable we have turned our attention to the garden. Whilst what I have done is not perfect, I’ve done it by myself and I have a budget of pretty much nothing as the whole house had to be refurbed as it was derelict. 

The garden is approximately 70ft long by 17ft wise. The previous owner had attempted to do something with the garden and by that I mean it was completely destroyed, we have attempted strip it right back and I’ve attempted to build two retaining walls to tier it as it had a fairly steep slope, doesn’t look too bad in the pictures but eye level and sitting in a chair it was pretty bad.

in one of the pictures you can see where the old retaining wall used to be, I’ve just rebuilt this all the way along with a plan to patio for a bbq area once the tree is out.

we are considering following what I have attempted with the other two levels and replacing the bottom wall and bringing it up to try and level out the bottom level some more. 

Given what we have and the limited budget (first time buyers, spent most of our money indoors), what would you do with the space?

there is a concrete structure at the back which will be taken down and replaced with a summer house, in the picture looking down the garden the structure is behind me and about 5m by 3m.

 The trees are being removed.

any questions or if you need different picture angles please do let me know! Thank you for all your help!

some pictures before we started working on it a month ago! 

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Posts

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,505
    Hello Jack,  that's quite a project you've got there! I think you need to sit down and work out what you need and what you want in your garden (the two don't always go together!) and what your budget is.
    In order of priority, the big tree needs to come down asap (it will be very messy). Ask the contractors whether chipping the remains is included in the price and if so, bag this up and keep it as it might come in useful as a mulch.
    Secondly, your boundaries need to be sorted with proper fencing. If money is tight and some existing panels are sound, they can be reused and if necessary, re-painted so it all matches. 
    Thirdly I would suggest that you need new, wider and shallower steps at your bottom level to make it look more attractive and safer to walk up and down.

    I think that will do for starters, I suggest you sort out the practicalities first and the planting last. 
  • Lizzie27 said:
    Hello Jack,  that's quite a project you've got there! I think you need to sit down and work out what you need and what you want in your garden (the two don't always go together!) and what your budget is.
    In order of priority, the big tree needs to come down asap (it will be very messy). Ask the contractors whether chipping the remains is included in the price and if so, bag this up and keep it as it might come in useful as a mulch.
    Secondly, your boundaries need to be sorted with proper fencing. If money is tight and some existing panels are sound, they can be reused and if necessary, re-painted so it all matches. 
    Thirdly I would suggest that you need new, wider and shallower steps at your bottom level to make it look more attractive and safer to walk up and down.

    I think that will do for starters, I suggest you sort out the practicalities first and the planting last. 
    Thank you Lizzie.

    The garden has been a god send, especially compared to what the house was like, but we got it for a steal and all of the work we have done including in the garden using free sites to source materials no longer needed or wanted etc. 

    We have a sketch of what we want, as we are splitting the garden into 3 levels, the back will be patio with a summer house for the bbq area, the middle section will be levelled and grass with flowers at the side, the bottom will then be levelled and grassed once I build the wall. 

    Just a very simple garden that is low maintenance due to the hours we work we can’t justify so much time unfortunately, hopefully one day that will change. 

    We don’t really have a budget, we do everything ourselves but I will try and keep it under £2k if possible for now. 

    The tree a friend is removing it for us as a favour so will just take it away to dispose of everything. 

    The boundary is a sore point, the really damaged side belongs to our neighbours and will need to see if they will fix it otherwise we will seek to have it all taken down and rebuild it ourselves, although fences are fairly costly. 

    With the bottom steps, when rebuilding the wall we will seek to put 4/5 steps in so it isn’t as steep, although I seem to have made the steps on the other two walls steep so will likely break down the steps and rebuild them so they aren’t as steep. We will likely make the steps 90cm wide the same as the other two retaining walls we built. 

    Thanks for your help, I’ve also attached some pictures of what the garden was like about a month ago before I begun tackling the garden before and after work!
  • DaffydillyDaffydilly North LancashirePosts: 78
    I agree with Lizzie about boundaries and steps.  Not that many people can see over their roof from top of garden!
    I`ve always moved into houses where owners could`nt be bothered, one we had was
    40 ft long and 16ft wide and contained 14 sheds!  We sorted out fences first then a seating area to do some thinking in situ!  We decided on most important area near house and worked our way from there.   I could`nt `plan' a garden, never have.  I live in it and plan as I go....small steps at a time or I would find it too overwhelming.

    OR  us folk on here could recommend you to Love Your Garden >:)
    Here, there and everywhere
  • februarysgirlfebruarysgirl LeicesterPosts: 604
    jackrustcampbellhill said:

    The tree a friend is removing it for us as a favour so will just take it away to dispose of everything. 

    The boundary is a sore point, the really damaged side belongs to our neighbours and will need to see if they will fix it otherwise we will seek to have it all taken down and rebuild it ourselves, although fences are fairly costly. 


    Is the friend a qualified tree surgeon with public liability insurance? If not, you're taking a hell of a risk with such a big tree, especially with other properties in close proximity.

    I'd be very careful about what you do with the fence, fence disputes are not uncommon and can get really nasty. There's a whole forum dedicated to fences on gardenlaw.co.uk but to be honest it's confusing as hell.

    Have to say though, I love your garden! It'd make an awesome secret garden, if you're into that sort of thing!

  • Is the friend a qualified tree surgeon with public liability insurance? If not, you're taking a hell of a risk with such a big tree, especially with other properties in close proximity.

    I'd be very careful about what you do with the fence, fence disputes are not uncommon and can get really nasty. There's a whole forum dedicated to fences on gardenlaw.co.uk but to be honest it's confusing as hell.

    Have to say though, I love your garden! It'd make an awesome secret garden, if you're into that sort of thing!

    Yeah, he owns his own Tree Surgery business he is just doing it as a favour as we have helped him out on a different project before. The tree is twice the height of the house and then there is a second tree behind it much smaller but that will be removed also. Luckily our property backs onto an empty field which is where they will lower the tree before cutting it up further. 

    The neighbours have lived there a while, and are convinced it’s our fence but our title/deeds say otherwise. If they push that it’s ours (even if it isn’t) we might just do the fence to save the headache and give them the ugly side of it. 

    Thank you, the garden is one of the reasons we bought the house as it looked like it had so much potential.

    do you have any examples of secret gardens? They sound interesting!!
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Greater ManchesterPosts: 834
    Don’t risk falling out with new neighbours because of the fence, they clearly don’t want to replace it and maybe they actually couldn’t afford to even if they did?

    Just offer to replace it, then you can choose one you like, put the nicer side facing you and there will be no doubt that it’s yours!  
  • rachelQrtJHBjbrachelQrtJHBjb South BucksPosts: 814
    Lots of suggestions from others to get you started. I was going to mention the bindweed in your garden which you are clearing. From the garden pic you posted taken from an upstairs window it looks as though your neighbour on the right has a whole garden full of it. Assume this is the neighbour who denies the fence is his. 

    I doubt your neighbour plans to tackle this infestation any time soon so I just wanted to highlight the fact that you will need to be vigilant and remove it as it arises in your plot. You don't want your hard work ruined.
  • februarysgirlfebruarysgirl LeicesterPosts: 604

    Is the friend a qualified tree surgeon with public liability insurance? If not, you're taking a hell of a risk with such a big tree, especially with other properties in close proximity.

    I'd be very careful about what you do with the fence, fence disputes are not uncommon and can get really nasty. There's a whole forum dedicated to fences on gardenlaw.co.uk but to be honest it's confusing as hell.

    Have to say though, I love your garden! It'd make an awesome secret garden, if you're into that sort of thing!

    Yeah, he owns his own Tree Surgery business he is just doing it as a favour as we have helped him out on a different project before. The tree is twice the height of the house and then there is a second tree behind it much smaller but that will be removed also. Luckily our property backs onto an empty field which is where they will lower the tree before cutting it up further. 

    The neighbours have lived there a while, and are convinced it’s our fence but our title/deeds say otherwise. If they push that it’s ours (even if it isn’t) we might just do the fence to save the headache and give them the ugly side of it. 

    Thank you, the garden is one of the reasons we bought the house as it looked like it had so much potential.

    do you have any examples of secret gardens? They sound interesting!!
    Handy friend to have! You're lucky to back on to a field, makes life so much easier!

    I think the issue with the fence might be that although the boundary is legally your's, if the neighbour was the one who put the fence up, the fence itself may belong to them. If that's the case, doing anything with it could cause big issues. It's been a while since I looked anything up regarding fences so I wouldn't take that as gospel! If you offered to replace it as suggested by Flydragon, it's unlikely they'd object unless they're the really bloodyminded sort.

    Pinterest is my go to for inspiration (also images on Google). Just search for secret garden ideas and it'll come up with a whole host of images. Generally, there's LOTS of planting, especially foliage. I'm hoping to give mine that look although don't have the money for all of the planting at the moment!
  • februarysgirlfebruarysgirl LeicesterPosts: 604
    Couldn't resist having a look for my own garden and stumbled upon this which has some great examples https://architeworks.com/40-dreamy-secret-garden-ideas-that-feel-like-a-fantasy/
  • FlyDragon said:
    Don’t risk falling out with new neighbours because of the fence, they clearly don’t want to replace it and maybe they actually couldn’t afford to even if they did?

    Just offer to replace it, then you can choose one you like, put the nicer side facing you and there will be no doubt that it’s yours!  
    Completely agree, we are likely just to get the 3 panels replaced for now (due to cost) and then replace them all at some point in the future when we have the money to do so. 

    As being in your early 20s owning a house is proving to be very expensive even though we knew it was a fixer upper. Although everything structural and internal is done, other than the kitchen we just need to paint etc but after 6 long months I just want to spend my evening sitting in my garden for a while lol 
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