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starting from scratch!

Having lived here 20+ years and had children, animals, trampolines and paddling pools, the time has come to reclaim our garden. It is a fairly standard square of grass with beds down one side and two sheds at the bottom. One wall is the concrete block wall of our neighbours garage which we covered with ivy. This has to go! We also have bamboo which has spread from next door. I understand this is not good and should go too? My main question is where do I start and when?! The grass is horrid, there are a few plants I would like to keep, but a large cherry tree which should also go. Ideally as I am a complete beginner, I would like low maintenance but some colour, is that possible? Oh, and pond would be nice but may be asking too much! Many thanks in advance.


  • TootlesTootles Posts: 1,469

    Hello 9austin. Sounds like an exciting project ahead of you. Do you want to get rid of the grass or just improve it? If you do want to get rid of it I'd suggest doing it now, or when the ground is still soft, as its a tough job and doing it when the ground is hard and dry will be really tough going. We hired a grass removing machine when we did some of ours but it was still hard work.

    Know what you mean about ivy. It's  great coverage but can be very intrusive. You could put up some trellis and grow some climbers. Maybe a rose or a clematis. If you like a bit of colour in winter, a winter flowering jasmine would be nice. Or you could try growing fruit against the wall. Can't remember what the method is but am sure one of the other members will be able to. It's when you span fruit trees by training them across wires. A wisteria might be nice too.

    if I were you though I'd start by writing a long list to Santa including a sharp spade, a good fork, some secateurs and some donkey plonk to work into your soil.  I'd also suggest visiting your local garden centre for a few plant ideas.

    good luck with it!

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,283

    There are ponds and ponds, think size, budget and the work involved and make it appropriate for you.

    I've just got the Geoff Hamilton collection on DVD - it's helping me with lots of ideas and it only arrived yesterday! Started from a similar place as you 9austin at the beginning of this year, the garden had become tired over the years and not very inspiring, it can't be done in a day but it is moving in the right direction for me.

    You have come to the right place, I've only just joined up and getting plenty of help image

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 2,140

    This sounds quite exciting! You can have colour and low maintenance and this is a good time to clear the ground of unwanted trees and large shrubs so that you can start the fun planting part in spring. Bamboo can be very intrusive and it is tough to remove, too. First you need to cut down the top growth and dig out every bit of root you can find. This may involve a pick-ax if the clump is old. Use a strong barrier such as slates placed vertically in the ground between you and your neighbour's plant to stop the roots growing back. The ivy and the tree could both go now, too. After that, think about the structure of your new garden - climbers to cover the garage wall will need something to support them as they climb. Do you want to keep all the grass, or some, or ditch the lot and have paving and containers? Where will the pond go?. You can sit indoors in the warmth and plan it out on paper. Enjoy! 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,156

    As Pauline says - a selection of pix will help with suggestions and advice. You can then make some plans over winter to start in spring.

    One thing I would say is - if the concrete wall is part of your neighbour's garage, you can't put anything on it without their permission. I have a similar situation here with part of the garage forming some of my boundary. I extended the fence which formed the other part so that it's about a foot in front of the wall. image

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

  • Get some photos up, let's see what you're working with. Its an exciting time when you're creating a garden, but be prepared for your ideas running away with you! 

  • Wow!  Thanks for all the replies, I was thinking give it a few days and then I'll see if anyone replied, thank you very much!

    I was too late coming in from work today to take photos, but will do tomorrow.  Should have thought of that.

    I think a fence or trellis in front of the concrete wall is a good idea.  We are getting rid of the cherry tree and sheds at the bottom of the garden so I think the pond will go down there.  The grass I think will have to be replaced, unless there is a repair type re-seeding option.  See what you think when you see the state of it!

    And I do appreciate your comments about not happening overnight, I spent a lot of time Sunday clearing the front garden which is much smaller.  I pulled out a lot of montbretia (spelling!?) as it didn't flower much this year, weeded, trimmed back the cotoneaster and cut back the clematis over the front door.  I filled three black plastic bags, but when I put the bags in the boot and returned to the house, the garden looked exactly the same!!

    You have to be made of stern stuff to be a gardener, don't you?

    So, photos tomorrow and I will start making a plan on paper, probably after a beer, so don't expect too much!

    Many thanks again,




  • I'm looking to cover a garage wall next year. Its brick, so not as bad as a slab of concrete, but it has already been painted and is magnolia at the moment. 

    I'm planning on painting it pale green, and then erecting trellis up it to get some interest on it. Unfortunately its north facing but theres a few plants which should enjoy its position. I think for a concrete wall, i'd be considering a splash of colour against it!

  • Right, at last, two photos attached, I hope.  It looks worse in the photos somehow!  Spot the big patch where this years paddling pool was and last years paddling pool covering the garden furniture and BBQ.

    I would like a deck from the french doors, then grass in the middle with beds all the way round.  I would like a pond at the bottom, probably on the left where the shed is as you stand with your back to the house.  The other side on the right, where the playhouse is, I have a rather romantic idea that I would like to keep my washing line there alongside the garage wall with fragrant bushes so that when the washing blows in the wind ... you get the idea!  If the ivy goes, and we can put something in there that is evergreen and smells nice in winter that would be great.  Not asking too much I hope!

    There is a lovely tree with drooping long branches with pink flowers in the summer which is very vigourous, I hack it back every year and it keeps coming back.  It's in front of the two water butts on the left in front of the shed.  I would love to keep it, but nothing grows under it, I guess either because of the shade or because it sucks up all the moisture.  Any ideas?

    Thank you in advance for any pointers or advice, I've asked for a gardening book for Christmas!






  • I would start cutting back on the things you don't want now. If you do want to keep your grass, you could redo the edges as that will make it look alot better instantly. You could also plan to do a patio that wraps around the back of your house so that you have a mud free zone to stand on, whatever door you come out of, and it will be somewhere nice to sit in the summer. If your sheds are not needed, take them out and you'll be suprised just how much space you will have.

    If you don't want to keep the grass you could try a gravel garden. Very low maintenance, beds as big as you like, pond will fit right in too. My inlaws did this to save on lawn maintenance, and you don't have to get someone to take the grass away, you can strip it and just turn it over as they did. They have created some island beds in the gravel as they are on a corner plot of a crescent, so have a large area.

    You could have a water feature in a nice large pot or old oak barrel if you don't have room after all.

  • Id make sure fences were in good order first so that you don't have fencing contractors having to put up fences after you've planted and established the garden.

    Think about who and how your garden will be used. Do you dine outside a lot? Do children play in the garden? Do you want wildlife out there and what's your budget? 

    Think about what aspect your garden is, your soil type and how well drained it is. All of these will influence what you grow to some extent.

    Draw the boundaries of your garden to a rough scale and experiment with different design shapes.

    Once planning is done, I'd say look towards getting hard landscaping done. Deck or patio first then either turf or seed the grass and then cut paths into it or vice versa.

    I'm just a little bit ahead but still finalising some hard landscaping ideas before finishing that by the end of winter. I'm carefully trying to plan what plants will go in after that.


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