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Small garden needs help

Hi, I need help. I have a small, 30 foot x 20 foot garden. It is behind my terrace house in Jericho, Oxford.

Despite my best efforts the things I am best at cultivating are slugs, moss and small white flies. I think I have too many plants to handle.

I want more space to cook and entertain outside. I am starting to feel trapped. I do love growing tomatoes, lettuce and herbs and last year I had a great crop of beans. Problem is I keep being given other plants as people know I enjoy them, but this year there was just too many to care for and they all suffered. Part of me wants to take out everything and gravel over the entire yard. 

I have photos and need suggestions of what to ditch. This morning I am clearing my raised bed of radishes (which I didn't plant), pathetic beans, and sweet peas which were actually beautiful for once. I am also trying to remove the mint which is harbouring the white flies and slugs. 







Please help. Many thanks, Jessie




  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,148

    Hi Jessie. Small spaces are often the hardest to design as it's difficult to stop them looking fussy - every plant has to earn it's keep. What sort of style do you like? It's your space so it's important that you like it. Do you like a bright flowery look or do you want something more formal,with structure to carry on throughout the whole year. You can have both but you have to pick plants carefully. The first pic has come out well but the others are a bit tricky to get a good impression of the planting, although it looks like you have a fairly large shrub like a Choisya there.

    If you can give some ideas of favourite colours etc and the aspect that will help too. Looks like you get a good bit of sun but it will help if you can tell us what time of day you get it most image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • It does look a little bit overwhelming.   Far too many plants - and big ones for such a smalll space.  

    It's not compulsory to keep plants that people give you image.    I have put a couple in the garden bin, having looked and found they were rampant spreaders, and weren't suitable for me.  You may have to be a bit ruthless and thin them down.

    In my last house I planted stuff that all got too much for me.  So I got someone in and had them all dug out and started again with smaller stuff. 

  • Hi! Thank you for replying! 

    It it is a southwest facing garden. Great light all day in summer and from about 9:30am to 4pm in winter.

    Most shrubs and bay tree were here when I got here.  I cleared loads and lollipop the bay tree my first year. Then I added the deck and wall baskets. They are great for growing tumbling tom tomatoes.

    The shrubs on the south wall are camilias, an orange blossom and some kind of flowering orange rose type climber.

    Several years ago i uprooted two peonies and a fuschia. They survive well in pots and live on the deck when they bloom.

    I love bright colours and moved to oxford from Florida, so I am missing the heat and hibiscus flowers.

    My style is modern minimalist, which is why I feel panicked every time I go out side. I do enjoy growing things I can add to salads and my cooking.

    Here are some more pix.





  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,148

    Jessie - if you like minimalist, then I'd clear most of that out.

    Cue - loads of people throwing up their hands in horror! For a small space, less is more. Use a group of statement plants (evergreen) for the back corner or along the back wall,  which work together, and then have your 'hot' flowers in large matching pots or containers for spring through to autumn when the structural group will take over. You could add a big pot , a statue or something similar to give a nice view from the house. If the camellia's happy and you like it, use that as a starting point for the evergreen group, and the bay tree makes a nice feature too.

    The mistake most people make with small spaces is to use lots of small fiddly plants and it just looks messy and jarring. Have your area for growing food and herbs linked to the rest of the area by having matching hard materials - a timber edge to match your deck for instance. It's hard to make that simple by the very nature of it, so don't try - just keep it in tune with the rest.   I'd take the paving away and use gravel. You can tie that in to the overall colour scheme too. That leaves lots of options for seating and dining whether in sun or shade. For impact with your brighter plants - put three matching containers together along the edge of the deck. They will be a minimalist statement in themselves and you can simply plant them up for seasonal interest. If you want extra colour, use the verticals as you're already doing, but again, just tie in the materials you use with the rest. Keep hard landscaping materials to two or three types. You have a nice walls, you have decking , so the rest of the space should be one type of material.

    Hope that's of some help and interest. Don't keep anything you don't like, or if it doesn't work for your space and the time you have available.  image


    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • I think fairy girl is right.   It's overpowering that garden, too much.   The shrubs are too big for it.   I think you might be happier getting them out especially if you're a minimalist.   You need to enjoy it.   And it faces southwest which is lovely to sit out and enjoy. 

  • Thank you both for your ideas. I love the idea of removing the paving and putting down gravel. I also like the the idea of three pots that I can change or put my bright flowers in. I had great success with begonias, fuschias, geraniums and daisies as well as sweet peas growing up the wall. 

    I have cleared some and it already looks better, I think the orange blossom might have to go, image but keep the camellia and bay tree. I'll continue on it next weekend and post more pictures. You can send more suggestions. 

    Thanks again, Jessie

  • Hello

    I like green garden with full of fruits.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,908

    You've got great walls around the garden to work with. I think you need to think about your hard paving structure, and then dress with a limited range of minimalist plants. Clothing the walls with climbers would keep some greenery and interest without taking up much space. Maybe keep your veg to some raised beds which add a bit of structure. Instead of a narrow path down the middle how about offset squares of paving with planting to one side?




  • GardenmaidenGardenmaiden Posts: 1,125

    Your big plants really dominate and taking them out would be a solution and give you a feel of more space straightaway. Your bay tree could be dug out and planted in a pot and you could topiarise it to keep it manageable. You can also grow some veggies in amongst your plants. Or even in pots. An annual patch you can change year on year and use hot colours - Cannas, californian poppy, all sorts. And don't forget that there is a seed swap thread so you may find something there.

  • Work still continues on my tiny garden. WillDB I love you idea of an offset path. I think I'll try to incorporate it. Your design is a great idea, but I don't think there is space for all of that. 

    here are pictures from dec. 21st. I had another clear out today. I'lol upload pix on Monday. 





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