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Starting to think about the front garden

zugeniezugenie Posts: 794
edited May 2022 in Garden design
I want to start prepping the front with a view to planting it next spring.

Currently it is just grass, there’s a small (~3 foot tall) wall at the front and it slopes back towards the house, I’ve planted a standard tree already and the soil is the same as the back, nice crumbly loam with some sand. South facing but about half gets shaded in the evening by what’s left of the neighbours oak tree, there may be loads of roots but I’ve not dug it yet on that side!

I am intending to lay some cardboard down and mulch on top in the autumn to kill off the grass ready for planting in the spring. But I am wondering if it would be better to rotavate first to break the grass up?

We are also debating adding a hedge behind the wall as a bit of a noise barrier, any recommendations for suitable hedging for our soil would be appreciated! I’m not a fan of laurel, red robin, or conifers!


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,134
    I wouldn't be a fan of those either. Especially that red robin thing, but mainly because it always looks awful here. There are loads of suitable plants, and if you wait until about September, you can order bare root for delivery in Oct/Nov which is far cheaper, and they'll establish well over winter. Gives you time to prep a border well for it too.
    My favourite hedge is Hornbeam, which retains it's foliage over winter, as does Beech. It's worth looking at some of the hedging suppliers over the next month or two though. I've used Hopes Grove several times, but there are plenty of others.  :)
    I wouldn't rotovate the grass. If it isn't a big area, you can lift it and stack it out of the way somewhere. Once it breaks down, you can add it to beds/borders. That could be useful in the bit nearest the oak, for example.
    If you cover it, you'll still need to add more organic matter and/or soil, as it won't be very hospitable after being a lawn, so you'll need some edging. However, it depends what you're planning for the area. Are you just covering it all with plants? A photo of the area will help too.

    Re the slope - which way does it lie? Down towards the house, or up?
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,283
    Your soil and aspect would suit most hedging plants @zugenie.  If you want something that's evergreen, I have found Griselinia littoralis very versatile as it can produce a neat hedge quite quickly and also be grown as a specimen shrub.  The leaves are a bright apple green, making it cheerful over winter!

    I also like Privet.  It looks really good if you cut it in an A shape - wider at the bottom and slimmer at the top to get a good thick green screen which will make a good noise barrier.  Birds like it for nesting too!  I had over 200 feet of it in my last property, it remained evergreen all year but can be semi-evergreen in exposed locations or harsh winters.

    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.
  • TheGreenManTheGreenMan Posts: 1,847
    Looking at all the hedges around here, privet seems to be the one that looks the best when its trimmed.

    Over the road's is a beauty.  All straight and angular.  No brown bits.  Evergreen. 

    I'm trialling Griselina (variegated) on the back of @Plantminded's recommendation.

  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 2,283
    Let's hope the trial works out @TheGreenMan!  The variegated variety is slower growing but also attractive.  I have it next to some Phormiums to brighten up an area which gets only morning sun.  I think some people dislike privet because it can get a bit thin at the bottom but that's because they neglect it and don't cut it properly!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.
  • WAMSWAMS Posts: 1,533
    You're so patient. :) I dug up my front lawn this spring and didn't wait... just dug really deep and tried to get all the grass roots out. I daresay they'll come back here and there but I'll be waiting.

    I would consider a rose hedge. Something like the gorgeous, unthorny Kew Gardens? ( ). If you're nicer than me. I put a trio of brutal Gertrudes out the front because I don't want people gallivanting around out there. ;)

  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,864
    Privet is much maligned as being common, but it's common because it's not too fussy. And it comes back if it needs to be cut back hard (ours had been neglected when we moved here and was more like a row of bushy trees than a hedge).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,134
    I love privet too - just because it's pretty common, it doesn't mean it isn't a good hedging material. Very versatile.
    The only drawback is that it isn't evergreen everywhere. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • TheGreenManTheGreenMan Posts: 1,847
    Where are you @zugenie ?

  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 794
    @Fairygirl yes bareroot for the hedge is my plan! I do really like beech but I wasn’t sure if it would be dense enough to help with the noise, we almost put a beech hedge in last autumn but I couldn’t decide if I definitely wanted a hedge.

    I was intending to put composted manure on the top of the cardboard and I will mulch with it again in the spring after planting (honestly can’t believe how much it’s helped to keep the moisture in the soil in the back garden!) I’m intending to have the whole area planted, it’s about 8mx5m I don’t have anywhere to store the turf to break it down sadly, that’s why I was thinking of rotavating then mulching on top so the grass and break down into the planting bed. It slopes towards the house, so the wall is at the top of the slope. I’ll see if I can get a picture that doesn’t show too much of where I live!
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 794
    edited May 2022
    @Plantminded @TheGreenMan

    I did think about Griselinia as I’ve seen it recommended a few times on here, it can be grown quite narrow as well, can’t it? I am also a fan of privet, I wasn’t sure if it gets really wide? Good for birds would be excellent, I have a feeder out the front that gets lots of visitors to my delight!

    @WhereAreMySecateurs I’m not sure I could claim to be patient, I’ve been busy working on the back garden which was really neglected. A rose hedge is tempting, did catch a kid running along the wall once  :D, but I never find them to be very thick! 

    I’m in East Hampshire!
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