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New build garden project

edited July 2021 in Garden design
Hi guys,.I've lift at my property for 18 months now and finally decided to tackle the garden. It's completely full of weeds and mud with bricks etc.

I raked the entire thing to flatten it. I just don't know where to start. I know absolutely nothing about gardening, please see the pic and give me advice on where to begin!




  • AngelicantAngelicant Posts: 130
    Welcome to the forum. Plenty of people will be along soon with some ideas for you but here's some things to think about before you get started.
    1) Which way is the garden facing?
    2) What you want from it?
    3) Do you have children or pets?
    4) Do you want a sunny or a shaded seating area or both?
    5) Do you want some privacy from the houses around?
    6) Do you want a lawn and flowerbeds or more hard landscaping?
    7) Do you need a shed?

    I would make a start by digging up as much of the weed growth as you can. Start with a strip about a metre wide down one side then work your way round gradually otherwise it might get a bit overwhelming (unless you can get friends or rellies round to help) then you can start to plan.
  • Doesn't look too far off of the size of mine. Mine was built in 2001 although I still think of it as a new build (I bought it in '07). I'd definitely completely clear all the weeds, you may need to bring out some nasty stuff to get shot of things like dandelions and then go over it with a rotavator to make the soil workable. You can hire them but I ended up buying a cheap one because it would cost just as much and I could take my time with it. You need to look at which way your garden is facing as that will make a big difference as to what you can plant because of the amount of sunlight. When I first got my garden I made the mistake of buying plants I liked without checking the level of sun they needed. It didn't work out 😆 Although soil type is a factor as to what will grow well, I have to confess I've never checked mine. One of the biggest things to keep in mind is how you want to use it. Is it just going to be for relaxing in, are you wanting to entertain outdoors, do you want to grow your own produce or do you have any children or pets you need to make it practical for? Perhaps all of them! Another thing to keep in mine is what level of maintenance you want. Don't take on more work than you want to do!

    I would highly recommend doing a search on Pinterest for inspiration. When I decided to redo mine, I searched for small garden ideas and ended up pinching the basic design from a photo I found on there then customised it to what I wanted. Also, look at some of the photo threads on here, the forum members have incredible gardens!

    You'll never get everything right first time. I've had my garden for 14 years and still get things wrong although the good people here know their stuff and give good advice. Gardening has a never ending learning curve and a garden is never finished but it's all good!
  • Thank you for the replies. I just want a very basic garden, slabs around the side, bit of grass in the middle.

    It's overwhelming. I live on my own so it's only me who can do it and money situation not great.

    There is weeds everywhere. The soil has rocks and stuff left by the builders. Firstly I raked everything, then I've just gone over it with a spade to get rid of some roots. It's looking bit better, lots of garden waste though. I then went over everything with some weed killer doubt it'll do much.

    I just want a clean canvas. That's the bit I am struggling with. How do I get to that stage? Do I need to buy soil and put it on top etc? I have zero experience in gardening. My budget is like .. £500.
  • AngelicantAngelicant Posts: 130
    Well you have made a start so you are on the right path. The weedkiller will take a while to work but I would still just keep at it with the clearing, getting out as much of the weeds, roots and surface rubble as you can, but set yourself a goal of a small area at a time as it's too much to do it all in one go.
    If you put soil on top, the weeds will just grow through. Once you have got down to bare soil you can either seed it - early autumn is a good time for seeding, or turf it - you would need to do this when plentiful rain is forecast or have use of a hosepipe.
    Not sure why you would put slabs round the edges as they would not serve any purpose and are not cheap to buy. I would just buy a strimmer instead to keep the edges neat then if you do decide to put some plants in at a later date it's simple to just dig a border rather than moving flags. 
  • @shanestocks369uBTdkd7 I was fortunate the first time I did my garden as the previous owner had decked half of it and the rest was block paving so no weeds to contend with. I (or rather OH's mum) dug it over and we found all manner of junk the builders had left, including the front of a kid's trike. I dug it over a second time and was STILL finding more of their rubbish. Weed killer will take time. Personally what I would do is give everything a good dose, leave it for a few days so it has the chance to kick in and then cover the whole area over with cheap tarpaulin. I've always found weed killer plus light starvation to be a pretty good combo and it also prevents new weeds from sprouting up. I'd leave the tarp down for a couple of months before digging it over again. Everything under it should be deader than dead, the weather will be cooler so even though you'll still have to do it bit by bit, it won't be as much hard work and the ground will be softer. Before I bought the electric rotavator last year, I was going over the area with a long handled twist cultivator ( ), or at least trying to. Very first time I used it was spring 2008 and it was quite easy (although still hard work) but last year, it was July, it was hot, there hadn't been any rain so the ground was rock hard. I didn't make much progress at all. The thing with gardening is that you always have to work around the weather and seasons and summer isn't a great time for grunt work unless it's a wet one. It's not a problem if you have the money to pay someone with lots of labour saving equipment to do it and whilst doing it yourself isn't impossible, it can be back breaking.

    A couple of months might seem like a long time but it'll go fast and would give you time to mull over your options. I would agree with @Angelicant about the slabs around the edge. Unless you're wanting to do laps around the garden, they don't really serve any purpose. That doesn't mean you can't keep it as basic as slabs and grass but slabs are best used for areas with foot traffic or for plants in pots. As a former new gardener, I'd definitely recommend leaving yourself wiggle room to change things as you may find over time that you want more from your garden. All I wanted (and all I thought I'd ever want) when I first moved in was a small patio at the back of the house with a lawn and a small flower bed which was fine for a while. The bed as I had it didn't really work so instead I built a bed at the back which got extended several times over the years. Then I decided I wanted another bed on the right hand side, a few years later I wanted one on the left as well. Having decided to stay rather than move, I started a major overhaul in 2019 after my mum had died. She'd loved her garden but as she got more and more ill, she wasn't able to do as much gardening as she used to. I futureproofed my garden into something I'd be able to manage when I got older and indulge the love of plants which I never imagined I'd have developed. 

    Keep it as easily adaptable as possible at this stage if you don't have any specific needs. Slabs that don't serve a practical purpose would be a PITA (and costly) to take up.

  • edited July 2021
    If you really want slabs, there are often people giving them away free on or

    I used gravel in my garden - it's super cheap and easy and doesn't look ugly with age like slabs - this is what I have -
    ... it's not meant as a 'decorative' stone chipping so it's v. cheap - get the 20mm stuff (don't get smaller, cats will use it as a giant litter tray and it collects in the soles of your shoes) - there'll be a supplier near you (google 'aggregates') and they'll deliver either in big builder bags or loose to your house. Would be a good idea to get a weed control membrane to go underneath, and also a layer of MOT hardcore (also from the aggregate supplier) between the membrane and top layer of gravel. Sounds a lot but it's cheap compared with slabs

    Grass seed is your absolute cheapest option though:

    1. Kill the weeds - off the shelf weed killer will do it - personally I'd spray them with roundup rather than try to chop them up or pull them out - the worst ones will regrow from tiny fragments of plant that remain in the soil making the whole situation even worse. Better to let them grow and then spray them, that will kill them outright, and in my experience works on all the nastiest weeds (bind weed, nettles, ground elder)
    2. put down a layer of soil (you can also get top soil pretty cheap from the local 'grab hire' firms)
    3. sprinkle with grass seed.
    4. Water and wait  

    I would think you could leave a lot of the builders rubbish in the garden and put soil over it - I don't think grass needs a deep layer of soil.

    But if you do need to get rid of the rubbish, the cheapest / easiest way is to advertise for free on - there's always someone wants what you're getting rid of and will come to take it off your hands for free and zero effort on your part. Next best is take it to the recycling centre yourself (free but takes a lot of effort/trips and risk of damaging your car). Next best, especially if you have loads of stuff - is grab hire - a local firm arrives with a massive tipper truck, scoops up the rubbish and takes it away for a fee (costs vary a lot depending on where you are).

    Youtube is great for beginners videos on gardening - there'll be loads of easy info on growing lawn from seed.

    For £500 you can easily kill the weeds, buy soil and grass seed plus a hose to water it.

  • @baytree1970R7WNg390 I put this gravel down last year We have a lot of cats that come into our garden and they HATE walking on it. I have no problem with them being in the garden as long as they behave themselves. The numbers are definitely down this year (although I'm pretty sure one frequent visitor has died and potentially another one 😞) and they all walk around on the beams of the raised beds. I think they use the garden more as a thoroughfare now rather than somewhere to hang out. 
  • There are lots of nice gravels available - but the one's described as 'decorative' can be very expensive - washed shingle is maybe a third of the price
  • @baytree1970R7WNg390 Mine was definitely one of the cheapest I looked at although colour was a big factor. Shingle is just too dark for my small garden. 
  • Thank you so much for the comments it's really helping. I have taken down the weeds just need to remove them and I'll give a once over with spray. The plastic membrane has arrived and I'll start on that. I just need to smooth it out a bit as it's very bumpy. I've had a look online for gravel and I really need to measure how much I need! I like the light grey ones a bit.

    Anyhow. Thank you so much and I'll update with pics soon :)
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