Forum home Garden design

Dealing with the impact of trees and shade


I'm a keen but fairly unexpereinced gardener - with a young family and a full time job so very little time!

Our garden at the back of house has a border of woodland to the eastern side, another large tree in our neighbours garden on the western side and is incredibly wet all year round. The people who owned the house before hand clearly chose to deal with the damp and shade by installing decking to about 70% of the garden which appears to be sitting on some raised beds/walls which are about 1m tall, and paving the rest.  We have put a couple of beds in by taking up some paving, and have installed some raised beds onto of the decking.  Despite trying to keep the decking maintained and painted it is now starting to rot and really needs replacing.  

So we are going to bite the bullet and try to redesign the garden a bit so that it is more attractive, practical (we'd like to grow veggies) and user freindly (for our 3 year old and dog).  It will also need to cope with the shade which affects about 50% of the area at some point in the day, general dampness and bogginess most of the time and turns into a swimming pool in places when it rains - which is a lot as we live in Bolton, and also about a tonne of leaves in the autumn.

Please can anyone offer some advice of what to plant in the shady areas, paving that can come with leaf slime and dampness, and/or recommend a decent landscaper in the Bolton area?

Thank you in advance!



  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    A similar question has been asked recently and you may find the answers in those threads helpful.

  • -- Posts: 88

    Apparently your plot lies in a deep place (rather than a slope...). You´ll need to improve drainage. I had lots of 'swimming-pools' around the garden when it poured down; things improved when I worked the soil to a depth of 50cm (20 inches), which is enough for most herbaceous plants (you´ll need to go a little deeper if you intend to plant anything bigger), adding a bed of pebbles in the bottom and some (or much) sand. If things are really serious, you´ll have to think of piping as a solution.

    I have a pH metre which also measures daylight in a very loose but efficient manner. Try and get one. If most of the site is below 'bright' or 'high light', you´ll have to consider leaf vegetables and foilage decorative plants.


  • Katy,

    Am I right in thinking that none of these trees belong to you? If so, is there any prospect that some of them could be cut down?


  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,058

    KatyH- You cannot guarentee that, even if the existing tree owners are willing to maintain the trees now, future owners will, sorry. So accepting that you have a partly shaded garden in the wet Nwest is half the battle.

    One thing though that does come to mind about the wetness that is- are other neighbours gardens also as damp? You'll know whereabouts you are in relation to slopes, streams etc, but your property should have land drains to deal with some of the possible dampness. Is your underlying soil clay? If that has compacted then it'll act as a barrier to any water/moisture draining away.

    So, I agree rotten decking not sensible with children & pets & in any shade it'll always be slippy. You can however get ridged concrete slabs I think that would be a better surface -something to consider for paving in the shadier area if needed.

    Accept that a lawn can be ok, sort of, in a part shade garden, but will get moss & never be a 'bowling green'. Then with children & pets.... BTW you can get turf/grass seed more suited to shade.

    Re landscapers- ask neighbours who may have used people, ask in local GC who they know. The GC may also offer a design/construction service themselves.

    There are lots of 'easy', shade loving plants & shrubs, so they can be planted once you have the groundwork in place. Read as much as possible in advance- the winter months are ideal for doing that. Beth Chatto- Damp garden, Woodland garden & others by her are inspirational- local library may also have some good books.

    Hope that this hasnt been too negative? Be realistic with what time, effort & finance you are prepared to spend & then you wont be dissapointed. J.


Sign In or Register to comment.