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Landscape/Garden ideas needed!

Hello All,

Looking for some advice, I have this patch of land at the front of my house, I spent most of the first lockdown removing overgrown bushes and slate chippings that covered it (before pictures available if anyone is interested) but I'm now not entirely sure what I should do with it. The only thing I want to avoid is a significant quantity of aggregate/stone chippings!

Thanks in advance.


  • KiliKili Posts: 1,019
    I'd say the first thing to do would be to nourish the soil.
    Get some manure and mulch down for the rest of the winter which will break down and nourish the soil in time for spring/summer.
    Whilst waiting you can ponder the best way forward with a little help from some of the more seasoned gardeners here who hopefully will be along soon with some ideas for you.

    'The power of accurate observation .... is commonly called cynicism by those that have not got it.

    George Bernard Shaw'

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,723
    There are so many choices, it's hard to suggest anything without a bit more information.
    For starters, can you tell us which direction does it face and how much sun does it get? Is it sheltered or exposed? What's the climate like where you are? What's the soil type (if you don't know, we can point you in the direction of how to find out)? What do you like (colours, garden styles, ornamental or edible, any particular seasons when you want it to look good, etc), and how much time do you want to spend on it?
  • The patch faces east and is also quite open to the south, receives sun until around 3pm during the summer months. Soil type is clay & I'm in the south east of England so that should help with your question around climate!

    In terms of colour I'm honestly open to all ideas and because it's next to a driveway ornamental and something that (mostly) lasts year round would be my preference. Once in situ I'm happy to spend a few hours a week on it.

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,723
    A "standard" answer for a low-ish maintenance front garden would be small evergreen shrubs like euonymus for year-round interest (various different variegated ones are available), interplanted with bulbs for spring colour and with space for some bedding plants for summer colour. Maybe add in something long-flowering like erysmium and shrubby salvias (but I don't know how well they'd do on clay). But really it would be better to have a look at books, magazines, websites etc and choose things that you like, so that the garden reflects your own tastes and personality.
  • I once knocked on the door of a stranger to enquire about a shrub in their front garden After getting over the surprise, they couldn't help as they had only lived there for a few weeks.
    So much for the name and age of said shrub BUT I know I would have regretted not asking.
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 11,021
    There's a couple of items here from the RHS and also Monty Don.

    As @Kili says, the key is in the preparation, both in the soil and how you're going to maintain it. I would put in a couple of small paving stones so that you could get in amongst the plants to do any maintenance without trampling the soil.
    There are so many plants/colour schemes, l envy you the blank canvas. @JennyJ mentioned shrubby salvias,  they crossed my mind as well. Something like "Royal Bumble" would give you a bright splash of colour for several months. 
    If you can plan for something in flower for most months of the year, using bulbs, shrubs and perennials that would be good. The trick is not making it look too "bitty". Hopefully the above items will start you off.
    Don't be worried about asking questions, this forum has a wealth of knowledge  :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,201
    I'd agree with @JennyJ - some straightforward shrubs [there are loads] and a few perennials with bulbs, and evergreen groundcover will mean very little work once established. If you have neutral to acidic soil, Pieris, Skimmia, Rhododendrons and Azaleas will all do well.  Certainly worth adding plenty of organic matter - rotted manure, compost and leaf mould are ideal, to beef it all up first, and a good mulch after thoroughly watering in will get everything off to a good start  :)
    Osmanthus and Potentillas will grow there, as will things like Mahonia and Viburnum. 
    Hardy geraniums are invaluable as ground cover, and things like Heucheras. For a bit of height - Polemoniums [Jacob's Ladder]  are good. Bulbs work well with them too, although you'll need to wait until autumn for getting most of those. Snowdrops are available around March onwards though, in the green, which makes it easier for establishment. 
    It would be worth making sure the ground is well covered with planting if you have animals around, otherwise it can just be regarded as a large toilet. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • rachelQrtJHBjbrachelQrtJHBjb South BucksPosts: 814
    Looks like you have worked very hard clearing the site. Everyone has offered sound advice.

    One thing to consider is adding little access path, be that stepping stones, membrane with slate or bark chip, or something else, as that will allow you to get to everything to carry out maintenance, water, cut back, add new plants, etc. It doesn't help the soil if you do all the prep and then spend your time walking all over it. In time, the plants will mesh together somewhat to hide it. If it were me I would run it top to bottom centrally (doesn't have to be a straight line) so that I could reach most of the border on my hands and knees to weed. 
  • Thanks all for the advice so far! All of it has been incredibly helpful especially the type of plants I could go for and what might work - as a complete novice knowing virtually nothing the options can be somewhat overwhelming! 

    I also had no idea how to prep the soil so I'll follow the advice above while planning what else to do. @AnniD I think you hit the nail on the head with a concern of mine in it looking too "bitty" and knowing exactly how much to plant, I guess this comes with experience but is there any advice you can give or just learn by doing?

    @Fairygirl it is currently being used as a large toilet by the local cats so I'll keep that in mind!
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 11,021
    The general advice is to plant in clumps of 3 or 5 plants, but these days that's a bit much for most gardeners, me included .
    Another rule is to have the same plant repeated at intervals through the bed so that there is repetition and it "leads the eye" if you know what l mean. 
    Having said that, rules are made to be broken  ;). The best advice l can give you is to try and visit a garden centre through the year (if you can, bearing in mind the current situation).
    This will give you an idea of what's in flower/leaf at different times of the year. It's tempting to plant it all up in one go,  but you run the risk of having a blaze of glory and then nothing. If you can't visit in person, look at nursery websites and make a note of the times of year that plants are at their peak.
    If you're worried about leaving gaps in the meantime,  some bedding plants or hardy annual seeds will act as temporary fillers.
    When you do get the plants, set them out in their pots and study them from all angles, moving them round until you're feeling happy and then plant. Obviously you can move them after planting, but it saves effort.
     Hope this is of some help  :)

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