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Affordable garden border planter

I have posted on here and have been lucky to get some good advice so I hope I may be lucky again! 
Our garden has a long back border the length of the house, but it’s planted with conifers so it’s dry and shady underneath. Plants just don’t do well! I’ve got a few that are ok, but I would love to plant just in front of this section instead so I can control the conditions. To make sure we don’t have the problem of dry soil I want to create a raised bed. However, I’m Finding this an EXPENSIVE possible project. I’ve looked at sleeper beds, and Wooden raised planters but with slabbing under to give it a level finish it’s pricy once top soil plus the plants are added. Any ideas?? 


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,482
    I'm sorry but I think you would be far better off spending some money getting rid of those conifers, far too high and oppressive for my liking. You could then replenish the soil underneath and grow lots of nicer plants.
  • Thanks Lizzie. Yes in an ideal world would be much more fun having no conifers and root free soil to plant in. However there’s a big house the other side of the trees so trying to do what I can with having privacy created from the trees. 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,482
    I can appreciate that but it does look like they've got conifers their side as well. Privacy can be created in front of neighbouring windows quite easily by having either pergolas or smaller airier trees in the right place rather than hunking big conifers.
    I think you will really struggle to grow anything under the shadow of those, even in raised beds.
  • One solution could be to remove the corner of your lawn in a curve so you end up with a bed that's deep in the corner. That way you could improve the soil but in an area slightly more distant from the conifer roots. You'd still be best using plants that were tolerant of dry and poor conditions, but you'd have more control over the soil quality and could add a mulch every year. I'm not sure building up with railway sleepers will really help in the long term, as the conifers will just grow roots into that. And there are few options for underplanting conifers.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,544
    I would get around the problem by laying some weed membrane in front of the conifers, pegging it down firmly and covering with chipped bark.  This would be cheap and instant and easy to move to gravel or pavers later on as funds and taste dictate.  It would also give you easy access to the conifers to keep them trimmed without trampling on treasures.

    I would then describe a semi circle on your lawn with the furthest tip of the arc going to 1M minimum wide in front middle of the path.   Get rid of the grass, improve the soil and plant up as you see fit with a variety of bulbs, perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs - whatever you like - to give you year round interest and take your eye off the bare trunks and the fence behind.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    edited February 2021
    Maybe some tall pots planted up that would look good unplanted as well or a diy piece of sculpture, but i am in awe of whoever shapes your trees they all look nicely trimmed. The area looks quite dark and dry so as others have said you would be better bringing a planting area away from the trees, maybe an island bed, leaving a grass path behind it with enough width to mow easily. If you have children they do seem to like running around things.
    Plant up with tall grasses at the back that would hide the tree trunks and perennials for colour as obelixx suggests. 
  • Wild_VioletWild_Violet ScotlandPosts: 137
    Sorry I can’t really advise on planting other than to agree with others suggesting creating island beds in your lawn where there is most light and possible better soil.  But I would say that if you value your privacy (as I do) don’t take down your conifers!  I was pressurised into doing so by my neighbour’s solicitor son who started quoting the high hedge act at me over our 2.5m high well established hedge (it was higher when we moved in 14 years ago!) I was so fed up about the fuss that I had half the hedge replaced with a 2m high fence which means my neighbour has a grand view across most of my garden from her ground floor windows.  It’s costing us a fortune now to reinstate some privacy and enjoy the garden again.  Hope you find a solution. 🙂
  • Thanks all of you. You have given me lots of ideas for thinking about which was exactly what I was hoping for. You are right wild violet, privacy is very important to me so I think whatever I do I will still keep the conifers, as I have control over the ones my side of the fence. Blimey, that’s intense having the hedge act put on you! K67, large pots could be an interesting way of coping with it too. Different shaped and placed borders like Obelixx and Cambridge rose also said could be good. Thanks all. Great to have your thoughts. Much appreciated 
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,961
    Yes I would just deepen the border, beyond the front of the existing slabs. Then you can plant in front of the 'drip line' of the conifers. You could plant a few things that will fill out into the space behind them.
  • Thanks loxley 
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