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garden help for someone on a budget and a novice to boot

I have purchased my first home which is a town house. I am happy although my garden is a bit of a problem.

I have uploaded a picture below.

Essentially what I need is advice on what to do with it while maintaining a low low budget.

Essentially the garden is like this.

A small patio area which leads to a wall with a small gate. This has a step an immediate right angle another two steps another right angle and some more steps to the second level.This is gravel stones which then leads to some more steps and another level of gravel.

On each level (beside each flight of steps are plant beds. Alone the edges of the garden are various hedges and trees. The previous owners didn't seem to have any reasoning behind plant positioning and just put stuff everywhere and then let it go jumunji.

Each plant bank is slopped and generally looks untidy. I would rather have it flat if possible.

So what I need is a plan of action on what to do.

I will cut the trees and plants along the edges back to restore some shape but it is more the plant beds I need help with. I am unsure what to do regarding the first level one becasue it is relatively steep slope so I don't know what to do with all the bark/soil and removing it and lowering it would then leave a really high looking wall which I don't want. There is also a giant bush that has been plonked in the to the left of centre which makes trying to move the plants about really difficult.

I am really happy with my house but the garden is really letting it down and bothers me to the point where I don't want to be out there and takes the enjoyment out a little so any help would be great.





  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Hi Johnny and congratulations on getting in the property ladder.  Welcome to the forum too.  We're mostly a bit mad here but quite friendly and fairly harmless.

    You've obviously got a sloping site there so trying to level it, even in the form of terraces, would be a mammoth task.  Which way does the slope face?  If it's south, or nearly so, you're laughing.  What sort of soil do you have under the gravel? - sand/clay/loam/stony - and what pH? (you probably have no idea about that one!).

    The plants look well grown and the garden tidy, if busy, so you might want to think twice about changing it all.  Someone once told me you should do very little to a garden for the first year in a new house to see what grows.

    Also think about whether you want pretty flowers or stuff you can eat; low or high maintenance.  All these things determine what can be done.

    But whatever you decide to do, I'm sure you'll have fun and satisfaction in putting into practice.image

  • Peanuts3Peanuts3 Posts: 759

    Hi Johnny, welcome to the forum.  It looks like you've got some great plants in there. if I were you I'd get photo's of individual plants and the helpful bunch on here can help you identify them.  you can then decide maybe what you may like to keep or take out (remember you want to have something interesting for every season) 

    It looks like it just need a bit of tidying up and maybe the big heather in the middle needs to be cut back a bit.  Then how about putting down some fresh mulch (people on here will be able to advise whether it will stay put on a slope) and you will instantly have a refreshed garden whilst you decide on what to do with everything.  Good luck and enjoy.  Ask lots of questions on here, they are a really friendly, helpful bunch.  i've certainly learnt so much from them. 

  • abc124567abc124567 Posts: 2

    OK thanks for the quick responses. I think then I will first of all cut things back and see what I'm left with. Some of the brick work and steps need sorting so perhaps that will refresh things. What I really want is something low maintenance and neat as I like things neat and organised and at the moment it simply isn't. There are lots of stones in the bark so I'm guessing the soil is stone based. 

  • Green MagpieGreen Magpie Posts: 802

    I think you may have som good plants there, so don't rush to cut them back. Wait and see how they perform. Evergreen shrubs (which some of them must be) are usually quite low-maintenance and give interest all year round.

    Looking at your photo, it looks as if you've got a whopping great honeysuckle on the left-hand fence. You may want to prune that drastically, they can rather take over (and they can block drains). On the bottom right, it looks like lily of the valley, which either won't grow or won't stop growing (the latter in your case! Mine all died). You might want to get that under control too. Close to the path you have some pretty dianthus (pinks) and some sort of herbaceaous thing (a geranium?) that may soon flower. Those look worth keeping. At the back there'a nice yellow bush - possibly euonymus, which is attractive all year round. Between the solar lights is possibly a herb (oregano?), I'm not sure, and behind it is what looks like a hydrangea - leave that alone and see if it flowers later in the summer. They're usually quite well behaved. The heather looks a bit big and dominant, but they're not eay things to tame once they spread.

    All this is just opinions and guesses, but do give your garden time to show you what it can do, and then you can decide what you want to keep or change. You'll get lots of support here.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    I wonder if the lightish green stuff to the left of the lily of the valley (which I thought was a Hosta !) might be lemon balm?  If so it might need drastic cutting back and digging out to stop it taking over. Smells great though and keeps the cats away.

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,970

    To get level areas in your garden you will have to build retaining walls. This would mean digging out most of the plants that are in there and retaining walls are an expensive and skilled commodity. So not an option on your minimal budget. Perhaps park that idea for the long term. In the short term, repair any of the steps and brickwork, tidy up and lightly prune the shrubs you have. You can dig out any that you absolutely hate. Give it until the end of the year to see what happens with the rest. Peruse some gardening books or local gardens to see what kind of plants you like and then in the spring get some new plants, replacing other plants which have done nothing for you over the year. There are seldom quick fixes in gardening - gardens evolve over a period of time so you will have to look on it as a moving feast and a long term project.  

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 7,043

    Hello , welcome to home and garden ownership , the picture you put on looks OK to me.

    Having moved a few times the advice of leaving it for a year to see what happens during   

    Summer , Autumn , Winter and Spring is good advice , what you could do is see what your neighbours grow and perhaps visit some garden for inspiration , I'm sure you'll have plenty to do any way

    best of luckimage

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 23,758

    I'd agree with my dear late mother " act in haste, repent at leisure" don't rush into anything which you might later regret. Sort out the brickwork and watch the garden for a while. 

    I think the plant next to the ( dreadful weed that is lily of the valley ( in my humble opinion) ) is wild marjoram, not lemon balm.

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