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Building a new walled garden

My wife and I are moving to Northumberland where we plan to renovate a house that comes with a good plot of land. Whilst I am pretty new to gardening I used to live in a coach house growing up that was attached to a walled garden and I have always coveted one. I now find myself in a position where building one is a real possibility but I can find little/no literature about building one from scratch. My questions are therefore quite fundamental and I was hoping I could use the wisdom of the crowd to guide me!

1) Wind turbulence. The primary motivation for a walled garden would be for growing food and to provide shelter/warmth against the Northumberland climate. I am concerned though that solid walls will create turbulence on the leeward side that will render those benefits useless. Is there a height the walls need to be to prevent this?

2) Alternatives. Would planting thick hedging (beech for instance) provide a better wind barrier for growing and does this provide any heat benefit at all? 

3) Size. Without professional assistance what kind of size walled garden is it reasonable to expect 2 people (with small children!) can maintain to any standard?

4) Layout. The site in question would allow the back, long wall, to be south facing but the wind comes from the west so will this create a wind alley if built in this rectangular orienation?

5) Materials. Are there any differenet/more modern alternatives to brick that might make for an interesting design?

6) Viability. Is this really just folly? I think it is affordable (purely looking at the cost of wall building online and the price of a greenhouse) but will the impact on growing conditions/look&feel be all that great compared to building high hedges?

Sorry for such a long post and thank you so much in advance anyone who can shed any light!

Posts

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    Not much experience in building walls I'm afraid, I've only ever done tiddly small walls but I would assume you would need to think about the time factor? A walled garden, although beautiful would be a huge project to undertake, depending on the size and wall height, whereas a hedge might be more doable.

    Hope other posters can help more, perhaps @chicky and @Fairygirl?
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,040
    There is a walled garden at Alnwick and also at the new RHS garden Bridgwater .Just wondered if you were a member of the RHS it is possible they could offer some help.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • @Lizzie27 I agree it is quite an undertaking but was thinking (perhaps naively) that having builders onsite for our other work might make it easier/less expensive that hiring contractors especially for it. My DIY skills wouldn't quite stretch to this I don't think!

    @GardenerSuze I am indeed a member! Issue I have is that most of these are victorian/established so I could get an idea of what there's is like to copy but I would love to understand the principles (plus I'm not sure I can quite stretch to one the size of Alnwicks!)
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    @charlie roper - oh that's a different kettle of fish altogether! I thought, crikey, that's a tad ambitious. Not sure it would be much less expensive though, says she, thinking in thousands.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,040
    I have two walls and one fence around my garden.
    One wall faces south which I thought would be a huge bonus when planting. In practice climbing plants that fix themselves to the wall are an issue it is just too hot in the summer months. In the winter it is too cold for anything that likes the heat. In the south west corner I can grow Melianthus Major successfully so that is good.
    The other wall faces east .There is a thread on here 'Breeze Block Wall' which I think shows the limitations of planting on an East facing Wall. 
    This is only a small piece of information and my own experience but I am sure you will be doing lots of research. The RHS do have various resources and information that you as a member are able to access. 
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 2,267
    Interesting questions. I don't know anything about walled gardens, so I just answer the questions about wind.
    Yes, a solid wall would lead to turbulence on the leeward side. This can be prevented if you break the flow of the wind. I don't know what's the best option - some kind of spikes, a structured surface, or just plants growing over the wall?
    For preventing the wind alley effect, you can just place some windbreak (trellis, some shrub).
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    There is something terribly romantic and alluring of the idea of a walled garden isn’t there? Weathered old stone or brick with an arched door into a secret world immediately springs to mind, but the shelter of a walled garden can equally be created by hedges, hurdles, fences or any combination of these materials.

    Maybe a combination of hedging against the prevailing winds and walls might work? I would think a south-facing wall would be an asset to espalier fruit trees against as most do not need winter warmth. Many actually need winter chill.

    One idea to break up wind turbulence is broken walls. Say you use brick, it can be solid at the bottom then upper courses laid with gaps in between for a kind of trellis on top effect. If you go for an all-solid construction you can still break up wind tunnels with garden layout, strategically placed trees and shrubs and the creation of mini microclimates within the larger one.

    I would think in terms of construction materials, the first place to start is the era/style of the house and available local skills. You then need to decide whether to go with the traditional local vernacular, if such a thing exists, or go for a contemporary contrast. 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,658
    You might find something on here of interest https://www.walledgardens.net/about-us/
    It's primarily about restoring old walled gardens rather than building from scratch though.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 3,040
    Espalier fruit trees sound like a good idea, something you often see in a walled garden. Not only do you need information on building but also what sort of advantages there are regarding planting as a result. Many old walled gardens have little growing on the actual walls.
    The most serious gardening I do would seem very strange to an onlooker,for it involves hours of walking round in circles,apparently doing nothing. Helen Dillon.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,102
    One thing you need to remember is that the size will be important ... in a smallish walled garden quite a large proportion of it can be in shade for a lot of the time.  
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







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