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Where do I start?!

Hello everyone!

I hope there is someone on here that can help me. Myself and my partner have moved into a rented property with a front and back garden. The landlord has said "as long as I dont have to pay for anything you can do what you want", which is fine, the problem is that we have no idea what to do with the pants that are already there! 

The garden is pretty well established (more prescisely, the previous tenants didnt look after the garden). There are conifers, hostas, lupins, clematis, honeysuckle, hydrangea and lots of other things I have no idea what they are, and a vegetable patch all battling for space and attention and, as the title suggests, we have no idea where to start with it all!! 

My partner's problem solving has whittled down to pouring plant and weed killer over it all and starting again... which I'm not so keen on! The other problem we face is that this is the first garden either of us has ever had to tend to, so our limited knowledge holds us back a lot. 

If ANYONE can give us any help, any whatsoever, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance!

Tara & James



  • *Please note, I meant the plants that are already there, not pants. All items of underwear were removed by previous tenant. image

  • Miss BecksMiss Becks Posts: 3,468

    image I was going to reply with something funny, but feared I would seen as sarcastic. image I have no useful suggestions for you, as I am a newbie this year to gardening myself, but to veg's. But I started a similar post and had a huge, really helpful response, so someone will be along to help. Pictures of what you have to work with would also be really useful. image

  • Pennine PetalPennine Petal Posts: 1,540
    I would start off by working with way you have for a while. do some cutting back and pruning where plants are overgrown and past their best. Do some reading about the plants on this website or the RHS website. Ask the forum for advice when you are not sure what particular plants are, we love to help identify plants from photos. Live with the garden for a year until you see what comes up in each season.

    Good luck and happy gardening.
  • kate1123kate1123 Posts: 2,815

    Tara you are lucky to have so many established plants, even if you do not like one it will be worth hanging on to it for a while to see if it serves a purpose such as winter flowers.

    Plants are expensive so you do not want to kill one if you can help it. 

    Does the veg patch have any veg in it, if not I would consider green manure

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  • catnipcatnip Posts: 73

    WAIT! Watch the garden and note the plants' habits over a whole year and get used to noting light and shade areas. The plants that are there will already give you an idea of what's happy where and with books/internet you can find other suitable plants for those areas. Don't prune without checking when it's best to prune a specific plant (you might lose flowers/fruit or colourful leaves). What a lovely position to be in- happy gardening! If you can't wait to introduce your own plants use annuals or perennials in pots (the latter can be planted up in the garden at a later date)

  • When my daughter was in this position she hired a gardener for just a few hours to help her sort it out and name some of the plants and then she went on from there. I have found the local gardening centre or nursery centre staff are really helpful, so take some photos and ask for help. The green manure for the veg plot is excellent, I used it on my new allotment and it keeps the weeds down and feeds the soil. Autumn is a good time to plant this and again ask advice at the nursery/garden centre for what to use. Enjoy your garden.


  • Have a look around in your area and see if there's a gardening/horticultural club you can join.  Your local library (assuming it's still open!!) can be a great source of information.  This site is fab for asking specific questions, and people are full of great ideas when you have a problem to fix.

    The best advice I have to offer is check to see if you've any typical weeds, I'm sure you know what nettles, bindweed and brambles look like.  If you've any of those, the weedkiller approach is the way to go before they get established.  Keep on top those things that are known weeds (things you really don't want in your garden, I don't think many people want a garden full of nettles, dandelions and bindweed).

    If there are just the two of you, then I advocate the wait and see approach.  HOWEVER, if you've got small children, you need to check and see what's poisonous.  I would never have lupins in my garden, I've got two small children that don't listen when I tell them you only put food in your mouth (the eldest has JUST turned 4, and is still a swine for eating things he shouldn't).

    Sounds like you're lucky having a big garden with some veg beds there.  If there's nothing growing in the veg garden, plant some 'green manure' such as clover or phacelia, these are plants that supress weeds and trap nutrients from the soil.  You grow them over winter, and dig them in come spring, to give your veg seedlings a good start.  buy or borrow a 'gardening year' book, or treat yourself to a GW subscription, they're good to read as general knowledge, and if you're really stumped, the collected knowledge on here is amazing!

  • I love the way Alys Fowler seems to garden. She doesn't differentiate between plants and veg. She just puts them all in the same beds. Mature plants mean established insects which will help you in years to come. Join the local library, read up as much as you can, see what suits your style. My husband is always talking about weed killers and pesticides. PLEASE DON'T USE THEM think of the bees, we have hundreds visiting my flowers and plants.

  • Hi, you got some great advice above, I'd just say if u got weeds just dig them up don't use weed killer only on paths,patios etc. Are you in a short term tenancy ? Gardening can be expensive so unless you are going to be there for a long time just tidy up. Go to a library get a book if you can for beginners as this will help a lot . This is how I started moved in, back garden was covered in weeds and slowly I change it to something lovely,with the plants you have your already on your way. Good luck .
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