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Blank Canvas

A History


From what neighbours have told me it was once a nice garden, when I moved in it was horrendous. My girlfriend had allowed the dog to use it as a toilet, it was over-grown with brambles and weeds. I have stripped it all back, removed the smell and now I have a relative blank canvas to create what I want.

The Rules

For your consideration, the bottom of the garden covered with blue tarp (picture to follow soon) is designated as a dog 'run' and will be paved with a gate to the right and the kennel to the left. I am thinking of a gravel path down to the run on the right also. The budget is small, id love decking, I cant afford it. I do want a seating area, a decent sized lawn. I have already planted two apple trees in front of where the fence for the run will go.

Get creative image



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  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Cheap lawn - seed don't turf, but you need to plant it now or in September.  I have found September easier as less competition from weedlings, and soil nice and warm, but you need to water.  Summer too hot.

    Plants - personally, I would get some shrubs to go at the back to mask the dog run (unless you want to admire the dogs from the house), and they are quite cheap - go for fast growing, varied foliage colours, maybe with some sweet smelling blossom to mask the smell of dog.  Morrisons does a lot of really cheap, good quality plants - go mad in their plant section if you have one locally.  The budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi are good too.  Make sure you have an idea of the height you want.

    Grow perennials from seed if you can - very cheap indeed.  Am looking forward to some delphiniums I planted in 2005 to bloom in the next month.  Years of pleasure for about a quid.  Use them for a bit of structure. 

    Patio area.  Cheapest thing is probably gravel over some builders' dampproof membrane to stop weeds coming through.  Then you can save up and do it properly later when you have got a budget.  Have garden furniture with broad feet though, as it is easy to pierce the plastic.  Maybe put some hardcore underneath to firm up. 

    Look out for bargains.  This is a great time of year in places like B and M and The Range and Poundstretcher because they often get in a lot of things like bare root roses, and shrubs, in cardboard sleeves or plastic bags, but they don't have enough staff to care for them all the time, watering etc. and they realise that the poor things are sending out pallid white shoots and fading fast, so you can pick stuff up for pennies.  Look for some sign of growth, pallid shoots is not a bad sign if they are alive, have yellow leaves on.  I have a bed full of 50p roses.  Put them in a pot of compost when you get home, keep well watered, place in sunny spot.  Avoid anything that looks really dead - it probably will be.  As a general rule of thumb, if you surreptitiously scrape at the bark on a twig with a fingernail, if the wood underneath looks green, damp, and if the branches bend, you have a chance.  If they are like dead wood, that's what they will be.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Excellent advice there Busy Bee.

    Last year I managed to buy a white metal garden bench for £15 from Wilkinsons. They are crafty, they slowly lower the price but keep your eye on them if you have one near you. 

    What I have done also is put up a bargain arch, Gardman on Amazon are reasonable and put the seat underneath it - economical arbour for what £30

    Also you could maybe put a few small square slabs into the gravel to break up the look of it.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    I'm also half way through making a path this way. I bought cheap bricks and have laid them in diamond pattern just setting them into the soil which I have compacted. I will put landscape fabric in the diamonds and then fill them with gravel

    Makes a path more interesting



  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Matty that looks lovely.  You could probably risk damp membrane plastic in those gravelled bits cos it looks like the holes in the bricks would drain off any rain water into the beds.  I just say that cos we found the weeds just stuck their roots through the weed fabric after a while and were very hard to pull out, but since we used membrane you can just lift them off and they don't stand a chance.  I don't like weedkiller cos I tend to think a load of dead and dying weeds look as unattractive as green ones, so prefer to handweed and have done.  I really like the movement you have in that path - giving me ideas!

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Hmmm - that's a thought. Thanks

  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053


    you may be gutted to find that your bricks are not frost-proof and will disintegrate after a few years. Next time, use solid paving type bricks for your path and they will last forever.


    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    They are engineering bricks - not elegant but frost/water proof.

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    What plants do your parents / friends / neighbours have that you enjoy and could ask for cuttings from? That seems a sure fire way of filling a garden cheaply though might take a little while to grow rather than shop brought instant display jobbies but you could always plant things a little tighter and then pull a few up once they've done their job of filling the gap.

  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    I thought that engineering bricks did not have holes............

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
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