What to do!!

Hi everyone, please allow me to pick your brains.  I have no background of horticulture what so ever and have no family members with knowlede either.  Having moved into our own home with a large garden after spening 23 years in military accomodation with nothing is somewhat daunting.  We moved in 3 years ago and what was there was very run down, so basically just cleared all the weeds and re seeded a new lawn.  this took great and the following year i put in a small border near to the house, and this looks good to, then last year I did the same with the long borders and have started to plant this out, problem is it just looks like a large piece of grass with a few plants around the edge! What can I do to soften it and make it into an interesting garden? I'm scared that I will ruin the new lawn, put plants in the wrong place etc etc etc.....god I so wish I have a fairy garden mother that could fly over and give me some advice and guidance.  Any ideas folk?

Cheerio Yvonne



  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    You really need to introduce curves into your garden, shaping he lawn into something other than a rectangle. Then you could probably benefit from a few "focal points" in the form of trees or large shrubs; once you have these, you can design around them.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    Widen the borders-do as Alina has said,or turn the square into more of a diamond shape view from the house-perhaps an island bed in the middle?

    Consider this- do you really want or need a lawn?

  • YviehYvieh Posts: 85

    Hi Yvonne,

    I agree with Alina. Try softening those straight lawn edges, by curving the beds out a bit.  It shouldn't take too much to give it some shape. Small trees, large shrubs and flowering plants of different heights will also help.  Any plants you buy, should say on the label what kind of light your plant needs, so that should help you plant things in the right place.  Don't be scared, just have a go.  And if things don't work, move them.  You'll get a feel for what's right soon enough, and anything you don't know, just ask (there are lots of very knowledgable gardeners on here who help me all the time!).  You're doing the right thing already in my opinion. Keep going, and good luck.


  • Hi guys, thanks for those pointers, I have thought about shaping the borders but I think ive been put off as its the cost of filling them with plants! Ive just been fortunate enought to get hold of a second hand greenhosue in great condition that i am trying to grow various perennials in, in the hope that this will fill gaps.  I did join a gardening group near where we live but felt like they were only really interested in established gardens and not ones like mine, so i never went back! My lawn is about 30 x 90 feet so a good size but as my boys are now older I dont need a lawn, just a little would be good. It was much bigger when we moved in but I am sectioned of about 30 x 30 at the top of the garden and i'm curenttly attempting to grow veggies...I love being in the garden i just wished i knew more than I do, and if im totally honest im not a pick a book up a book and learn type of girl! lol

    Cheerio Yvonne

  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    The good news is that it is easy to change things in a garden, I often move plants that are unhappy or that have outgrown their space.

    I would consider some height near the house, a few obelisks would break up the view and create some intrigue. You can do this very cheaply, I bought bamboo canes and painted them. If you like them you could go for something more permanent.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    You are doing ok just treat it all as work in progress-raising perennials from seed is the cheaper more rewarding method but you may have to wait until next year for flower.

    There may be plant swaps in your area, freecycle, car boot sales all ways of getting plants.

    And then the helpful people on here will always offer advice and tips on growing

  • How about shortening the lawn with a border running from one of the side borders part way across the lawn. Then concentrate on the bit you can see for now. You could fill the border with Verbena bonariensis, some tall grasses and rudbeckia  which would be relatively inexpensive, get the birds and hover flies in, some long lasting colour and movement. Try not to get hooked up on a work of art. My garden is 6 years old and still looks a mess but its MY mess and I love it for what it is. Also, lots of plants are remarkably resiliant, just think about how many different garden plants now grow in the wild without help from anyone. Experiment. Even the best make mistakes. Most of all, relax and try to enjoy just being outside in it!

  • Thats another great idea, and yes you are completey right with the relaxing...So hard to do at times though as I dont want to leave things messy...I need to do a job that I can complete then move on to the next....! Ive never heard of plant swaps but thats something i'm going to look into.  I am going to be inundated with Lupins....i have planted 3 various types from seed in my greenhouse and i think every one has taken! lol

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,134

    Yvonne, you are doing well each and every one of us on these boards had to learn some of us being lucky in that we had parents with an interest in gardening to teach us. Look at your garden as not a whole but in manageable sections and tackle one bit at a time, if you start off with more than one project something suffers and gardening is long term. I would say take plenty of cuttings from what you have and bring them on to fill bare parts. next month you can sow seed straight into the soil so a few packets of cheap seed will soon fill areas for you. The obelisk mentioned is a good idea but you can also grow runner beans up them as well so flowers greenery and something for the pot. Some trellis or wires on the fences and grow climbers from fruit to roses Clematis or whatever you fancy. This time of year you could find sales on plants going over their best, you get to see what you are buying but it is planning for next season, they will be settled and flowering normally.
    A word on borders, one skinny border looks nothing you need a bit of depth with from the fence tall plants and working to the front smaller plants. Lay out a hose pipe or line in a serpentine shape and alter it until you have what looks well then with a bottle filled with dry sand mark the outline you like, take a deep breath and start cutting. Any turf you lift stack upside down in a corner of the garden and leave for a year, you will have some lovely potting soil from that.
    A bit at a time Yvonne, I look out each morning on a long row of lovely Primroses which have lasted weeks, they came from one plant I was given years ago which I split year by year until I have a border length of them, you can do the same, it takes a little patience.
    Good luck,

  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    Rome wasn't built in a day, believe me, I know your story. When I moved in to my house 17yrs ago, I had 100ft of blank canvas.

    My advice is to start small, and think from the ground upwards. Most people start near the house because its a functional area, get to know your location, the aspect of your garden (where the sun rises and falls), follow the shadows cast during the day so that you will instinctively understand shady areas from sunny ones. Do a soil test and watch through the year to see how your soil reacts to downpours and drought. Take your time with style. I determine my wants by knowing what I don't want. At least it saves me hideous mistakes.

    Get the hard edges defined before the soft stuff. It's far easier to plant next to a wall than try to build a wall through plants. (believe me, I know!).

    Research garden styles and designs on the net, there are thousands of interesting gardening blogs. Buy or borrow books from the library and watch Alan Titchmarsh *How to be a gardener* on Youtube.

    This forum is a great bonus, we're a friendly bunch without prejudice of style or depth of knowledge.

    Remember to start small. One step at a time. Each year I improve my garden a little bit more, but no matter my time or budget or energy, I would never presume to reach perfection in a heartbeat, gardening isn't about reaching the end, its about enjoying the journey. image

    Best of luck! And you just earned yourself a bunch of gardening nerdy friends image

  • I think i will go back and look at the photos of my garden over the past 3 years of having it and see what progress i have made up to now, this I hope will spur me on to the next part of the journey....I'm so pleased I asked for your advice as you have all given me the push that I needed. Thank you everyone image

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 842

    Alina W is right, reshaping the lawn with curves makes a big difference. I did this to my lawn a few days after moving into our current house.

    Heres a photo of how it looked the day we moved in...


    And how it looked a few days later...


     And the following year...


  • Wow, you did all that in a year....it looks beautifull and you must be very proud of it image

  • I really love the look you have created but my garden is only fenced by chain fencing. Id love to create what you have done image

  • Lucy3Lucy3 Posts: 92

    Hi Yvonne, I would also like to say that I don't have very much knowledge of plants and am re-designing my side garden.......the folks on here have been brilliant in reccommending and advising me so make it your one stop shop if you need anything..........we definately aren't judgemental and are interested in helping everybody. There are some very knowledgeable people on here and I am in awe of them, I wish I was as knowledgeable but I am getting there slowly but surely. I was advised to do one project at a time and that is my mantra going forward...........Rome wasn't built in a day and yes I am still making mistakes but that's part of the learning and enjoyment of gardening.........you are very lucky to have a grenhouse.I am also on the lookout for oneimage

    Good luck with the garden and it would be nice to se a few photos as you go along

    Take care

    Lesley xx

  • i will route out the phots since we moved in and start putting them on....yes the greenhouse was a very fortunate find...good luck in your hunt image

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619


    Some focal points just don't really work, do they?

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 842
    figrat wrote (see)

    Some focal points just don't really work, do they?

    Your rightimage. After reshaping the lawn it gave me some much deeper borders to plant out. I bought quite a lot of small foxglove & lupin plants quite cheap from a DIY store which helped to fill the borders cheaply.

    After the changes its now a much nicer place to sit out in. Heres a photo taken from the same spot as the one above...



  • pavery026pavery026 Posts: 75

    Hi I have the same dilemma as what to do with my lawn, its a rectangle with a straight flower border either side, all the comments have been extremely helpful and I love the ideas of curves. LeadFarmer your garden is just wow what a difference.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892
    yvonne parsons2 wrote (see)

    ... after spending 23 years in military accomodation ...

    Gardening is quite unlike life in the military.

    In your garden you can do whatever you like, and no-one will tell you off.

    A garden is also a matter of personal choice. Some people do like tidy gardens, with everything under control. Others prefer a style that is wild and free (a cottage garden).

    So your own personality comes into it - reflecting the type of person you are, or would like to be.

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