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My niece is currently undergoing radio therapy for a very aggressive cancer. The village and friends have put together some money to build her a new very low maintenance garden. about 25m by 25m squared. Its a bit of a blank canvas. she has two children 8 and 10 yrs old a devoted hard working husband and a miniature sausage dog. open to suggestions. Plastic grass or not? really just looking for ideas


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,374
    My sympathies @stuartwilson134, that's a really tough situation. Do hope your niece pulls through.

    My thoughts would be perhaps a paved area plus grass the rest. Whether it's plastic grass which can be expensive properly laid or turf might rest on the budget. Do you know which way the garden faces? A few easy potted plants plus some comfy furniture might fit the bill.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • thanks lizzie. ive heard so many bad things about artificial turf shedding plastic and having to be cleaned, so i was thinking small lawn but still undecided ie open to suggestions. don't know if there is anyway you can train dog to go in a particular place.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,753
    I'd say that's the first thing to do re the dog @stuartwilson134. Others here who have them will advise.  :)
    Personally, I wouldn't use plastic grass. If she's in a hot area, that will be horrific in summer, apart from the obvious reasons for not having it. In wet areas weeds just seed in anyway. I see some truly horrific sights round here with exactly that situation.
    Ordinary grass isn't hugely difficult to maintain, unless you want it to be a perfect bowling green. Kids will wreck it anyway, so just a green space that can be used for playing on is very easy, and is nice to lie on if conditions suit  :)
    Lots of shrubs are low maintenance, so that would be a good method for greenery. The aspect of the plot will be helpful. Plenty to look at through winter from indoors is ideal. Other plants can be added later if required. A paved area as suggested, or gravel if the funds don't stretch to paving, which is much more expensive to have done. Pots for spring/summer if she's able to get out next year and potter, as that can be therapeutic too. 
    A few bird feeders will be a lovely addition. Very simple, but spending some time watching their antics is so rewarding. 

    Most important of all - I really hope your niece gets through it all and can enjoy the space. I wish her all the luck in the world for her recovery. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,610
    edited December 2022
    @stuartwilson134 A friend told me years ago when he was battling Cancer that he saw the world in tiny detail. He appreciated ants walking along a path, the insects and birds in his garden. He felt he stopped and looked at things really closely and took time to appreciate them in a way he hadn't done before.

    The first thing I would personally consider is places to sit in both a shady spot and also a more sheltered sunny area.
    I would also avoid artificial grass not the best for wildlife.

    Whatever the aspect you will have a shady area you could consider the following as a group. I am assuming that the soil has some retentive content.
    Sarcococca confusa, Helleborous orientalis, Polystichum setiferum plus some Galanthus. 
    This will give some winter colour. Sarcococca only needs a light prune if necessary after flowering. Polystichum is cut back once in spring. Helleborous you cut out any old leaves to ground level if necessary and then after flowering cut the flowered stems to the ground. Not time consuming but interesting in winter.

    Euonymous Emerald and Gold and G Green Pillar or similiar are easy to prune and will grow in any aspect. They also don't mind a football or two!
    For a sunny spot Geranum Rozanne needs a cut back after flowering, it can flower all summer.

    You could try looking in gardens nearby for ideas on what does well in the local area.
    Your community are there for you I am sure that the keen gardeners will know the names of their plants.

     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • Thanks Suzie, big fan off wildlife in the garden, so maybe put my mind to easy feeding stations and insect friendly.  had thought of ground cover geraniums and hellebores are an all time favourite. Please everybody keep the ideas coming. Thinking maybe sedum for late on. maybe potted minature butterfly plant that's it budlea.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,610
    edited December 2022
    I retired from Gardening a few years ago, I enjoy encouraging people to garden as I know how much emotional help and support it gives. I garden organically as that is the way we help future generations. Encouraging wildlife is a great start.
    I am just going to put a call out for others that write regularly on the forum and a big apology to those I miss. @Dovefromabove @punkdoc @Lyn @Uff @Plantminded @Woodgreen @Silver surfer @Fire @WhereAreMySecateurs @SherwoodArrow @nutcutlet @Loxley @Simone_in_Wiltshire @thevictorian @Nollie @Obelixx @BenCotto
    @KeenOnGreen @bertrand-mabel Big sorry if I have forgotten anyone I really want to try and get lots of ideas and I don't understand computers enough to do it another way. 
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
  • thanks suze. whereabouts in notts are you. ive also worked in large estate gardens, but ive forgotten more than i knew

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Hi Stuart, well here’s one responding to Suze’s call 😊 

    How mobile is your poor niece likely to be? Will she need to use a wheelchair or stick to begin with? Will bending be difficult? She will probably be very weak from the treatment at the least.

    An area that is easily accessible and level would be my first priority, close to the house with some shelter for inclement weather and some comfy seating and a table to read on and easy to reach a cup of tea rather than a low coffee table. If she is not very mobile she will feel the cold more than usual, so maybe a patio heater and a snuggly blanket.

    Then I would consider all the senses and have fragrant and aromatic plants in pots at her nose level so she can enjoy not only the fragrance but visiting bees and other insects. Rosemary, lavender, salvia (like well drained, gritty compost)  perhaps a couple of choice, strongly fragrant potted roses if she likes roses.

    Secondly, a little further away, some whispering and moving grasses to catch the light and breeze, verbena bonariensis and gaura to add interest and rhythm to the grasses. These could form a semi-see through screen around the sitting area so she feels ‘hugged’ by plants but can still see the children playing on the grass beyond.

    All these plants are east to care for, wildlife friendly and unfussy.

    Further away brighter pops of colour to catch her eye and lead her visually down the garden even if she can’t get there, plus good perches and water for visiting birds.

    Connecting with nature after a serious illness and whilst managing ongoing health problems is proven to help with wellbeing and recovery.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • thanks Nollie, Some great ideas, we really don't know any likely outcomes at the moment. so i think we will plan for the easily accessible as possible. I love water features but the ones ive built in the past were ones where children needed to be supervised. I think something that would incorporate water for bugs and birds and maybe the odd frog would be nice. need to give that more thought, love moving water as well. thanks again
  • @Nollie Thankyou, all great ideas, I wish I could write as well as you do!
    It's very quiet on the forum at the moment hence my ask for help.

    @stuartwilson134 I live in south Notts I have worked in various gardens in the area, no Estate gardens but a few Yellow Book gardens along the way. I am sure you will be able to bring some good ideas of your own but if you are like me I enjoy sharing ideas with other gardeners too. There is always at least one great suggestion that hasn't even crossed my mind.
    I am a big fan of grasses and as Nollie has said great when they catch the breeze. The small ones don't create the same drama but a tall one one I can always recommend is Calamagrostis Karl Foerster, stands all winter just cut to ground level end of February.
     Retired Gardener, new build garden, clay soil, South Notts.

    The more I garden the less I know but the more pleasure I get from it. Monty Don 
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