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Sloping field-like garden surrounded by native hedging (help!)

Hello fellow GW readers.  I really hope you can help me with some practical ideas regarding our blank canvas garden (narrow field!) that slopes away from our house (mid hillside) and is surrounded on all sides by a native hedge-bank with hedging atop.  A blank canvas sounds great but in fact its difficult to know where to start!  Our first concern is the native boundary hedge-bank hedging is running away with us (we've not been here long) and is difficult to get down to a manageable height (some of the hedging has already become trees) as we have not lived here long.  I'm not sure how to plan a garden that will cope with the hedging taking over.  We wondered if the best thing to put next to the hedging, working inwards,  would be a path following the boundary given that we need access to maintain the hedges and clear up the spoil (once we have done the initial taming!).
Any ideas gratefully received!


  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,995
    Would you please add some pictures of your garden and the hedge, so we can see what you have and give better advice?  
    Utah, USA.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,837
    Photos definitely needed. Click on the icon that looks like hills and follow the info. Try and keep the pix to around 1MB or less as they'll load more easily.  :)
    I'm afraid a length of native hedging does need constant vigilance - and a good hedge cutter  ;)
    The good thing is that you can hack it back hard to get on top of it, without killing it off, and then you can see what you have. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • JaciJaci Posts: 7
    Hello, again.  Thanks both for your interest.  Herewith a few pics for starters.  We actually restored some of the hedge-banks - maybe a little too well!

  • JaciJaci Posts: 7
    We have a small long-house style cottage and this is our back garden although it comes off one of the sides of the house rather than the back.  The hedge-banks continue up to the top of the plot and on around the complete boundary.  The garden is south to south-westerly facing and so gets the sun throughout the day from morning to evening. Hope this is helpful? Thanks again, Jackie
  • JoeXJoeX Posts: 1,783
    edited August 2021
    Looks good, nice view - I’m assuming that’s a red wood chipper and you’ve done some clearing already?  If so you’ll need to think of the roots left behind.  Otherwise a good aspect and I’m guessing fairly healthy soil?  Perhaps lots of wildlife in those hedgerows - so much more than my suburban plot!

    Ive seen some triangular designs on TV and you might want to think of some sort of “destination” at the end of the garden, plant, art or structure.

    Think about what you want from your garden; sight, sounds, smell…a playground or an oasis?

    How could your garden blend with the surroundings and the tones and colours of your house?

    A pencil and paper is great for sketching out a map and making notes as you walk and measure the garden. Enjoy! And Be Bold!
  • JaciJaci Posts: 7
    Thanks, JoeX.  We have ideas about what we would like to do eg. a naturalistic garden that blends with and reflects the natural countryside.  We will be adding more wildlife attractions and planting to encourage birds, bees, insects, etc but it's more practical advice we need on how to set the garden within the hedge boundary (as above).  Is a pathway following the hedge banks practical?  We feel we need some kind of 'full-stop' or break so that we can access and maintain the hedge.  This is all very much on a budget and with just us doing the work ourselves.  We've spent a long time living with smaller suburban plots so we know we're lucky and want to do this plot justice.
  • StephenSouthwestStephenSouthwest Posts: 633
    edited August 2021
    So it sounds like the practical task right now is to reduce the height and width of the hedges, deciding which (if any) plants in it to let grow full height.
    The planning is best done as a whole, not piecemeal. So your next task is not to decide whether to put a path in.
    Your next task is to have a decently large outline plan of the space, and start sketching, dreaming, playing with ideas (however unrealistic), and once you've a broad notion of what goes where on paper, then mark it out on the land, see how it feels, change it around, go back to the plan...
    You will find yourself then moving into the "what shall we do first?" stage...
    Another couple of thoughts:
    -The first thing to actually install is somewhere to sit, even if it's just a seat or two, so well done on that (big tick)
    -Try to do one small task at a time
    -Take time to appreciate what you have achieved (use the seating!)
    In terms of accessing the hedge, if you want to keep it as a hedge, you'll need to access it maybe once or twice a year, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to put a path in - you just need to be able to get in there with your cutting tools. It could naturally form the back of a border of shrubs or wild plants, for example.
    Given that you're interested in soft edges and blending in, a 'full stop' or break seems like an idea you might like to relax and let go of?
  • JaciJaci Posts: 7
    Thanks for your input, stephentame. Some food for thought there. Maybe an obvious path wouldn’t sit right in our plan for a softer, natural garden.
    We’re not fans of  obviously manmade beds, etc. but another issue we have is quite a lot of stones & ricks in the soil so forming naturalistic beds without resorting to contained raised ones is going to be tricky. We don’t have the time or budget to turn over or level the main garden area but the uneven & sloping levels are a killer with the lawn- mower ( even with leaving some areas to grow wild for nature).
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,837
    You need to decide what you like and don't like. That's the first step. Then what is feasible.  :)
    I've gardened on all sorts of sites, including one just like that. You have to go with what you have. 
    I don't think a rigid, fixed path would be easy to achieve, so just planting to the inside of it is probably better, leaving a basic mown grass path for getting into the hedge. A large bed in the centre, with it's own path through it, is probably easier, leaving a surrounding grass path for the hedging. 
    This sort of idea, but you could make it bigger

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    I agree with Fairygirl, and think you need to keep a fairly wide grass area adjacent to all the hedge. It's not just a case of reaching it to trim it without trampling on plants, you need to be able to throw the branches down as you work. If you only cut it once a year, or if you miss a year, those could be quite sizeable, and it would be difficult to do with borders too close. As you have no doubt discovered, this type of hedge generates a lot of material and takes work to maintain, but it will produce some very good mulching/composting material via the shredder. I don't attempt to shred anything thorny and am fortunate in having space to dry it out and burn it.
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