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Very barren garden in our new home, please help...

Hello!  My husband and I have bought a house that we move into on Friday and we are really excited - but a bit overwhelmed - to be inheriting a big garden.  Both the front and back are heavily paved and very barren.  Kerb appeal...  Zero! 

Previously I have focused more on quick fix bright annuals and bedding plants as we have moved a lot in the last few years.  We are looking to establish a proper garden in the new house and would really appreciate some guidance.  We are inheriting a well built and sturdy greenhouse so would be able to grow from seed. 

What would you suggest for some plants to put into some raised beds, pots and troughs?  The garden needs heavy hard landscaping (that's another story) to even out the terraces so to start with I would like to introduce colour in transportable ways!  I was thinking of what seedlings I could start to plant out mid summer when the landscaping is done and especially pot flowers and some evergreens for some quick but lasting colour and any planning for spring.   The plot is south facing at the back and north to the front so I know I should think about the location. 

Thanks so much!  


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,856
    Do you know if anything is already planted in the raised beds and barren areas?

    I would feel like rushing off to a garden centre and buying a load of bulbs like tulips and mini daffodils, if there are any left, also pansies and violas. They you would have a colourful spring while you are settling into your new house and planning what to do with the garden.

    I would plant a mix of perennials, such as salvias, hardy geraniums, penstemon and also annuals for a long season of colour. With the greenhouse you should be able to buy young plants in the spring and grow them on. I would also plant pots of annuals to put on the terracing. Big pots are more effective and need less watering but are more expensive to buy. When you go to the garden centre in the spring you should find some inspiration.

    Will you want to grow any vegetables?

    But you have time to plan for the summer and in the meantime quite a bit of clearing up, weeding and cleaning of paving needs to be done. 
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,690
    Agree with Busy Lizzie, get some perennials going; you can move them about quite easily (most of them) so getting some going now will pay off when you want to do the garden 'properly' in the future - at which point you can dig up and divide them. I wouldn't go mad buying shrubs, but if you see ones you like which could have a home in your future garden, buy them and grow them on in containers. In a year or two they'll be bigger and will have more impact when you plant them, and you will get to enjoy them in the meantime. I would avoid doing anything too 'permanent' until you are sure what you're doing with the garden layout and hard landscape... you may change your mind as you spend your first year with the garden. 
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • Thank you very much for your replies.

    It is a probate sale and the gardens were totally overrun when we first viewed the house in July.  The beds were full of weeds and I think anything useful had died long ago especially over the scorching summer. There didn't seem to be evidence of anything like roses or shrubs except a large hydrangea and a lilac.   I think the garden had gone by the wayside for years as the elderly gentleman was less mobile - sad as the neighbors said he used to grow veg and all sorts ☹️.  

    Thank you kindly for your advice, will focus on perennials for now! 
  • Patience, patience and more patience!
    It is only natural that you want a nice garden to look at but if you are going to have heavy earth moving, paving slab moving and fence repairing jobs done, as well as rubbish removing, bear in mind, pots will get in the way and workmen often damage pots and plants etc which would upset you and waste money. 
    Maybe a few containers near the house with annuals to tide you over for a year or two.
    It is always a good idea to live with a new garden for a year as you never know what might emerge and you will find yourselves creating natural pathways to reach all parts of the garden. Also, if you are in your senior years, bear in mind, as each year goes by you will be less and less able to cope with such a steep incline as you have in your garden. If the previous owner was elderly, there may have been very good reasons why he had his garden laid out as he did. Safe and stable footpaths will be essential.
    Spend some time exploring your local area and see what plants are growing well in neighbours gardens, do soil tests to find out what sort of soil you have, explore Garden Centres to see what sort of plants you like, research their growing requirements, many may not do well in your conditions, is your soil acid etc? There is plenty for you to do before planting begins. 
    Frustrating yes. Bur, patience, patience, patience and you will be more than rewarded with happy plants and a lovely garden.
    Good luck and enjoy your new garden project. Do not be afraid to come back to ask more questions anytime. There are plenty of us with a huge range of experience in a vast number of subjects and plants.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,464
    I can only reiterate the advice to live with the layout for a while and see how you get on with it, whether the current routes of paths, steps etc work for you and if not, why not, where you'll want paving to sit out, etc. A good weeding and pressure-washing the slabs will make it look much better in the meantime. In spring you'll be able to see whether there are any bulbs, or perennials whose top growth has been removed, then you can fork over where there's nothing worth keeping to prepare for planting. I understand the urge to rip it all out and start fresh, but you might find that you don't need to, or it's a lower priority than work on the interior. And you have a greenhouse, so you can get a bit of a head start in spring when you've decided what you want to grow from seed or maybe buy in as plug plants to grow on.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Logan4Logan4 Posts: 2,590
    edited December 2022
    I agree with everyone else be patient and wait for the hard landscaping to be finished. If you buy plug plants, i recommend mr.fothergills and Dt. Brown. I've bought from both and very good. If you sign up for email get special offers I've bought from Thompson and Morgan but not good.
  • I think somebody else mentioned it...first job - sort out your boundaries. Whether that be new fence, wall, hedge etc. If you don't do it now you'll find it twice as hard to deal with them later...if not impossible. 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,590
    Buy or borrow a pressure washer and wash the slabs, it will look instantly better.
    Sort out the boundary fence and give the fence and shed a new coat of cuprinol colour.  Bulbs are reduced at the moment. Get some in pots they will flower in spring and you can position them where you want them.
  • That's a terrific garden. I'd love to see how it looks in winter.
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