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Garden features/preferences advice

So...I'm canvassing the advice & opinions of others on what garden features or preferences (aspect, neighbours etc) you would have as a bare minimum.

I'm moving house, and most of the reason is to get a bigger garden. We currently have a small terraced garden which I've filled to the brim. However, I live in a very pricey part of the country and my budget sadly doesn't match my expectations, so I'm having to work out compromises.

If you were having to compromise on the garden, what would be the bare minimum that you would look for? eg aspect, sod-the-house-just-get-a-huge-garden, distance from neighbours, ability to have distinct areas of the garden (ie "rooms"), water features, whether it fits a greenhouse or not?

Or, on the flip side, what are the absolute no's about the garden that would make you rule out buying the house? Mine are (so far) narrow gardens so you can't get away from neighbours, evidence of young children immediately next door (trampolines against the fence!), being overlooked.

I'd really welcome opinions, as I've overthought this topic so much I need new input!!
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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 21,039
    With a bit of application and ingenuity you can make a garden pretty much how you want it to be but bear in mind things like aspect/slope/prevailing winds/view as it's hard to grow a lush jungle garden - if that's your aim - in an exposed northerly aspect garden that's been concreted over or lots of ericaceous plants on chalky soil.

    You will, inevitably, spend more time indoors than out so make sure the house feels right and that the general neighbourhood has what you need - access to shops, schools, amenities you need - and that the neighbours each side appear to look after their garden.   You don't want gardens full of junk or weeds either side.

    Design and ingenuity will solve problems like narrow gardens which can be very private but I'd be more concerned about that meaning that the house is also narrow.  
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,648
    Thinking of budget, I would probably look for an end of terrace/semi with a big side garden, which gets you a lot of extra width. A lot of older council houses seem to be set up that way. They often have huge front gardens as well so there is a lot of potential. Like this (which I pass every day walking the dog) https://www.google.com/maps/@52.985683,-1.1661321,3a,75y,229.1h,82.34t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sVqKDz770r0gadZwPLrqB4A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 1,425
    edited 29 July
    With with ingenuity you can rectify a lot of things on your own plot of land so I would not be too concerned about what is there at present - paths, terraces, greenhouses, raised beds etc can go where you want so long as you have the room and the funds. 

    There are things, though, are much more difficult to deal with. If the garden is North facing that could have a major bearing on your ability to sit out in it and enjoy the sun. If it has heavy clay you’ll have several years of digging and mulching to make the soil more friable. Does the garden have high hedges that will cost a few hundred £s every year to have trimmed if you’re not up to doing it yourself? Are these hedges your responsibility or, worse because you have no control, your neighbour’s? Similarly look out for small trees that could grow into nuisance big trees. And what trees are they? If they’re ash be aware of the likelihood of ash die back. Ask the owners if there is any incidence of honey fungus in the garden. If the garden is infested with ground elder, mare’s tail, bindweed or Japanese knotweed you could be facing a battle you will never win. Those weeds could be a major deterrent for me.

    I agree with you that neighbours can be the biggest bugbear and I would try to find a garden that is not too overlooked and does not abut too many neighbours. Take a very close look on Google Earth for trampolines, hot tubs or oversized barbecues in neighbours’ gardens. When viewing the property take a long look out of the upstairs windows, looking for potential nuisance trees and hedges at the same time. Ask very direct questions about who the neighbours are. The problem, of course, is that nice neighbours can move out and horrors move in, or vice versa; it’s a gamble we all face. For two or three years being outside in our garden was almost intolerable because of the high pitched screaming of the young children next door. We even thought the children might be autistic or have some other condition. But, they grew up and the issue passed.

    Drive round the area where you intend to buy at various times of the day and week to get a feel for the neighbourhood. I would do this especially on sunny afternoons and warm evenings at weekends in summer. 

    Are you sure you really want to move?? It is so stressful!


  • YviestevieYviestevie Kingswinford, West MidlandsPosts: 5,460
    For me no,nos would be
    Bus stops by the garden
    Open land next to the garden that could attract football games etc
    Hard to eradicate weeds
    I would want it West or South facing
    Think about access.  Wouldn't want to carry mowers, hosepipes or green waste through house

    Hi from Kingswinford in the West Midlands
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 2,373
    If there are trees in the garden or close by, check for tree preservation orders. Not necessarily an absolute no, but definitely something to be aware of.
    For me any evidence of Japanese knotweed or horsetail/mares tail/equisetum nearby would be a definite no. Most other weeds aren't quite so much of an issue.
  • WibbleWibble Posts: 10
    I would look at:
    -where the shade falls 
    -whether it is overlooked, and in what way (if it could easily screened by strategic planting that would be not too bad, but totally overlooked is a problem)
    -access

    The first 2 are a problem for my garden, but we didn’t have the luxury of enough budget to be choosy.

  • Anna33Anna33 Posts: 125
    edited 29 July
    BenCotto said:
    ...high pitched screaming of the young children next door. We even thought the children might be autistic or have some other condition...



    Ha! We think this exact same thing about one of the children we (currently) live next to. He cries a lot. At nothing. He can be mid laughter, then tips over into tears. I try to be patient as he's a young'un, but I don't really want to live next door to something similar...!

    And thank you all for your replies, really helpful! Can I ask, though? A couple of you have mentioned big trees being in or near the garden? What sort of issues do you think would come from these (other than shade, roots etc)? I've thought that trees might be nice as they're shelter for birds and wildlife, but what are the downsides I need to consider as well?
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 1,072
    I would compromise on the aspect. We used to live in a house with north-facing garden, something like 7x7m or slightly longer and the back 2-3m were sunny enough for all sun-loving plants and vegetables. The bigger the garden is, the less the aspect matters. A big garden will get both sunny and shady areas. And personally, I don't like a seating space in the sun.
    I wouldn't compromise on size and privacy issues. Views and sounds that can be heard from the garden are important. I don't want any eyesores, kids (schools, playgrounds, trampolines) or traffic noise.
    I would compromise on things that can be changed (house decor, overgrown garden) but not on important things about the house (general location, being anything else than fully detached etc.).
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 1,425
    There have been a couple of rather disturbing stories on this forum recently from folk who have had a lot of grief from neighbours and trees - either neighbours’ trees whose branches encroach and it being difficult to do anything about it, or your own trees causing intense annoyance to a neighbour who takes retributive action. I would want to avoid such hassle.

    Our garden has many tall, quite magnificent trees. They are wonderful for wildlife, shade, interest but ... if they fall, and one has, the tree surgeon’s fees are steep. Similarly several elm trees have died and have had to be removed so more expense. There are several fully grown and healthy ash trees in the garden, but ash die back is forever marching on. 

    Look at the trees in the garden with a critical eye. Benefits outweigh the drawbacks but don’t be inured to potential issues.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 3,503
    Yes Ben probably ME! having had various problems with various neighbours, some of the problems shown, noisy kids, (I dont hate kids I had 4, lots of grandkids) damaging my garden, late night parties, weeds, talking giants here.  So, when we moved this time, in theory the last (bungalow, as near to the sea as we could afford, open country 2 roaads away, opposite the South Downs, I said we were going detached, no arguements.  Has it worked, no, brambles,bindweed,dandilions,valerian and other huge weeds with massive roots coming from next door, still boundary fences and issues there.  It stands in a plot 200 feet by 40 feet, and I was convinced we would have no problems being detached.  Our last house a semi, the one we were joined to had weeds a foot high just in the gutters, the other side was almost as bad.  It was on the market for £250k, it took months and a drop to £211k to sell it.People would come round and say, the loved our house, but wouldn't live there because of the neighbouring ones.  So, I would say, check out the neighbouring houses, are they and the gardens neat and tidy
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