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Flower bed advice

Hi everyone, I'm looking for some advice on creating flower beds in my fully lawned garden. I was planning on the no dig method, covering with card, compost and mulch. This is a new property we only moved in last week.
My issue is it is on a slight slope. I am unsure what to use as borders as there will be a considerable amount of soil etc filled in behind. It would be almost 10 meters along the back wall.
I hope that all makes sense. I will attach a picture for reference.
I'm a total newbie as only really grown in pots before. Any advice is very much welcome. Thanks.


  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    Would you consider a raised bed? Looking at the right side fence panel, it wouldn't need to be too high and would be easy to do using sleepers or other thick timber. It would help a lot with soil erosion and other problems you would get because of the slope. I am not a fan of the no-dig method so can't advise about that.
  • Do you have a hose? Stretch it out and create curved shapes so you can visualize it. Move it around to make adjustments, then edge along with the hose when you find a design you like. Sit in the chairs and see where your eyes naturally go. Looks like a ton of potential! Also, check out as many other gardens as you can to find inspiration.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Not a very severe incline, but if you want a bed along the front of the fence, you'll need and edging of some kind to make it more usable, as @edhelka says. It also allows you to have planting which can fall over the edges which is always a nice feature.
    What you use for that edging depends on the sort of style you like, and your budget. Rendered blockwork is great for a contemporary look, or sleepers/timber for a more natural one. The height you make it will also depend on the look you want.
    You can also take the top half of turf away and turn it upside down to fill in the bottom half, to level it out a bit more. In any case, removing the turf [turning upside down]  is the best idea.
    The turf itself is useful for filling the border, and you can then just add more topsoil/compost /rotted manure etc to get the border ready. It would be ready for spring if you just add a load of stuff soon, especially well rotted manure. The soil will be poor, and prep is the most important thing to ensure plants get a good start  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,579
    The use of a hose to create shapes is a good technique. Study the outline from an upstairs window too. Personally I work keep ‘waves’ in the hose to an absolute minimum opting instead for a single fluid curve. That advice changes though if you are contemplating sectioning off a section of the garden for growing vegetables. Reserve a small shaded, unobtrusive area for placing compost bins.

    I’m not a fan of ginger and white. The fence is really in your face and I would want it to retreat, setting off the plants much better. I would opt for dark grey. I’m sure you’ll be growing some climbing plants like roses and clematis so, at the outset, put in well secured tensioning wires on the fenceposts.
    Rutland, England
  • Thanks so much for all the advice as I am very inexperienced.
    My worry about choosing borders is what would be strong and tall enough to hold the soil behind it, if I try to make it a more level bed.
    I'm not a fan of the fencing either, but it is all new and so changing it isn't an expense I can justify.
    Just to add, I was planning on the no dig method as I would really struggle physically to dig up the turf.
    What type of plants are good to plant out at this time of year?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I'd agree @BenCotto. I've never understood the reasoning for the orange fence colour as the default  :D
    Plenty of scope for all sorts of planting, depending on what you like, and what your needs are too @clairelrigby. Take a little while to plan what suits you. The time you have to spend working on, and maintaining it,  is  also an important factor.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    edited September 2020
    If your lawn has been recently laid it won't be so hard to remove.
    My default method for removing turf is mark out a block by cutting down several inches with a spade and remove it along with a chunk of soil or you can just slide the spade under the turf, find kneeling down doing this easier or hire a turf cutter.
    You will never get good results using the no dig method on new property builds, the soil is too compacted and usually in my expierience full of clay and stones. My new build garden didn't have many worms and it has taken a couple of years of soil improving to get plenty
    If you plant a clematis or rose planting instructions will say dig an area 45cm square and deep so are you planning to put that much soil on top of the cardboard.
    You might have 10m of border but try starting with a small area to see what removing the grass and digging is like. Do this after we have a rainy spell.
    Certainly would paint the fence a dark grey and paint the concrete with masonry paint to match.
  • I'd say you have nothing to worry about with that slope.  It is not steep enough that you would have problems with soil erosion.  The roots of whatever you plant will additionally help to keep it together.  Your main issue will be that the top of the slope will be drier, and sheltered from rain water by the fence, so choose more drought tolerant plants there.  Further down the slope will be wetter, so you have a bigger choice of plants.

    As someone with serious retaining walls, I can tell you they are a pain. Try to avoid them if you can.  Some sort of edging between your lawn and the flower bed is all you probably need.  Agree with the others about the fence/wall colour.  A single colour for both would be better, and the bolder you are (not the standard brown/orange), the more you will be rewarded with a more dramatic garden.

    One final thought: 10 metres is a huge border to maintain.  Several smaller borders, with perhaps a specimen shrub or small tree between each one, might be easier on the watering/weeding, but still look impactful.  
  • It isnt a new build, I have just recently moved it. The lawn has been there for years.
    Thanks again for all the advice, I really appreciate and need it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    edited September 2020
    As already said @clairelrigby - the turf isn't too hard to lift if you do as @K67 says. Doing it in damper conditions is also easier, so this time of year is ideal.  :)
    Alternatively, hiring a stripper is the way to go if you think you wouldn't manage it. Just make sure when you do a search for strippers that you put the word turf in! Mind you - a load of big beefy blokes would get that done for you in half an hour  :D
    Have a look at various styles of garden too- there are lots of sites online, and that might help with making decisions in terms of what you like and don't like too. Take a look at our Garden Gallery thread on the forum too, and you'll see lots of different ideas and styles. There's a lot of pages, but well worth looking.

    It's important to consider the aspect and the type of soil, and your general climate and conditions too. There's a big difference in weather and temps in the UK, so that has a bearing on plant choices.

    It's often easier to make a list and rule out what you don't like too, rather than what you do like  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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