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Help - Complete beginner gardener - New build

Hello my green fingered friends,

My name is Scott and this is my first ever post. I have recently bought my own house, complete with the first garden I have ever owned.  It's a new build property and so a blank canvass, but I could really use some advise.

I have attached a picture so that you can see what I have in mind.  I have already started to lift the turf and create the borders you can see in brown.  My initial problem is to create a little privacy towards the rear of the garden as I am a little overlooked.

I love Japanese gardens and trees.  I don't want anything that grows too large that will interfere with the neighbours or the fencing.  My plan is to have a Japanese Maple in the rear left corner which will eventually become the focal point of the garden as it matures. But I don't know what to plant across the rear and towards the shed.  Initially I was looking at conifers or some attractive hedging, but I know their roots can be very thirsty and I don't want to risk starving the tree. So I'm looking for suggestions please?  As mentioned I do like trees but I'm worried about them becoming too big. So what else could I consider as screening plants for the space across the rear fence?

The plan for the rest is a fairly minimal, but colourful peace garden.  I may even include a few rocks and create a little zen garden towards the front left, with a little hedge divider.  At this stage I don't know a huge amount about complimentary shrubs and plants.  I guess I will work a lot of it out as I go along, and as mentioned the rear is my immediate concern.

Any ideas, suggestions or advice would be very gratefully received.


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  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,793
    If you don't want conifers there are other small trees you could use, like flowering cherries (there are small varieties and they are used a lot in Japan), Amelanchier, Rowan, crab apples. What about bamboo? But make sure they aren't the invasive sort. 

    You could plant grass like Hakonechloa, which comes in different shades, under the trees, with small evergreen shrubs, such as euonymus.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Hi Busy-Lizzie,

    Thanks for your reply, this is actually really heartening as most of the things you mentioned are things I was considering.  I did have my heart set on bamboo and then having researched further about how invasive and problematic they can be, lost all confidence and decided it wasn;t worth the risk.  

    The cherry tree was something I was planning.  Maybe the cherry goes by the shed, the Acer the opposite corner and then I can use some different colour variety Japanese Maples to compliment the shrubs/grasses?  You can get a lot of colour from those plants right? Reds/orange/yellow/shades of green etc...
  • I suppose I could also grow the bamboo in pots?  I was just nervous planting towards the back only for my neighbours to end up with unwanted bamboo shooting up everywhere
  • Oh wow, I've just goggled Rowan - Beautiful, with the red berries.  I like that a lot, thank you.  I have crab apple trees towards the front of the house so I'd like something different.  This looks like a winner.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,793
    You can grow bamboo in pots, but some are less invasive than others, such as Fargesia which is shorter and slimmer than some.

    Japanese maple do come in different colours and shapes according to variety, they hate chalky or limestone soil, they like a sheltered position, don't like wind.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,793
    Another idea for a Japanese garden - a small pond.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Amazing, so many ideas!  Thank you.

    Quick question on Cherry trees, do the flowering ones produce edible cherries also?  I do love cherries so trying to work out whether I was fruit bearing or purely ornamental!?
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,503
    Have you done a soil test yet, you need to know if you have acid or alkaline soil before you decide or you could be disappointed.  That’s the first job. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,723
    ornamental cherries generally don't produce fruit that you'd notice.

    'Proper' cherries do flower, but usually later and less spectacularly than the ornamental ones. Getting cherries from a cherry tree is very difficult - the fruit is there alright but beating the birds to them is very tricky. Patio sized ones grown in a pot, so you can throw a net over to keep the birds off, are a better bet if you actually want to have ripe fruit to eat. 

    Lonicera nitida makes an easy hedging plant if you keep it trimmed, for your dividers. Ferns go well with japanese style planting
    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • Thank you Raisingirl for your suggestions, I will add them to my ever growing list of plants :)

    I have ordered a few to get started - 1 rowan tree, 2 Japanese maple (Firecracker and Katsura), Carex Testacea and a couple of Eunoymus.

    The difficulty for me is knowing when to stop as I know it can look pretty sparse when you first plant, but as they mature they fill out.  Do people usually do little and often or try to plant everything at once?

    The thought of Cherries is a nice one, but I think I'd rather go the spectacular ornamental route.
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