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Garden of rented property - design advice

Last spring we moved into a rented house with a garden (my first garden!) and a separate patio area.  The garden is a rectangular lawn surrounded by stake fencing and newly planted hawthorn hedging but the fencing is quite low and the hedging is not fully established yet so the garden is quite open and unsheltered.

In the Autumn I dug up an area of the lawn which was tucked into a recess of the house and put in two square metre raised beds as well as a flower bed and a small rock garden for alpines but the main garden is still just an expanse of lawn with little of interest.  I am planning on increasing the width of the borders around the garden where the hedges are planted in order to be able to plant some flowers, etc, but don't want to dig up anywhere else on the lawn as it's not mine!  Has anyone got any advice about what I can do to add interest to a rented garden which will have to remain predominantly lawn?

Sorry for the long post!


  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    Potted plants and troughs are an idea, that way if you ever move you can take them with you. If you are able to grow plants from seeds is also quite good as it costs you very little and can make alot of impact.

  • I saved tons of seeds from my plants from last year so will be sowing them and hoping they come up but I really struggled to make the borders look anything but blah last year.  Maybe I just need to go crazy with the seeds and hope the plants take over the borders?

    If I put pots or troughs on the lawn, is there any way of stopping them from ruining the lawn underneath (like raising them on bricks) or would it be a case of either moving them before they do damage or resowing grass seed in autumn?

    Thanks for the reply!

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,155

    Have you asked your landlord about how much you can do to the garden? He would be the first person to approach. If you have put a bed into a recess of the house make sure it is lower than the damp proof course. Is there room to put pots and troughs on the patio? You could put them on the lawn if you can repair the lawn afterwards. If you can increase your beds and you are not staying long term then colourful annuals would be pretty. If you don't have a greenhouse then it's easiest to buy half-hardy annuals in trays of small plants. But you may be able to grow them indoors on a windowsill. Hardy annuals, such as calendulas, nasturtiums, cornflowers, love-in-a mist, can be sown straight into the earth.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    sadly anything you put on the grass will damage the grass underneath so bricks wont help, unless you contantly move them, but that is alot of hastle. You can make alot of impact on borders with plants, or put some of the pots or troughs on the borders, then plant around them. Mainly use pots and planters on your patio. 

  • The landlord is really nice and when we moved in said we could dig up whatever we wanted to make beds which is why I've felt ok about digging up the grass in the recess and expanding the existing borders.  I'm reluctant to start taking up more of the lawn though because I think it's nice for kids to have a lawn (we don't have children but it is sort of a family sized house so would guess when/if we move a family might move in) and the thought that I might have to re-turf when we come to leave!

    I have lots of pots on the patio (moved from a place with a terrace) and am planning on growing some veg in troughs and planters on there as well but the patio is at one side of the house and the garden is the other side so when in the garden you don't see the patio plants at all.  I'm happy with the patio but less so with the garden.

    Any suggestions for fast growing shrubs that will make a border look a bit more cottage garden and less structured?  I have some annual seeds saved from plants from last year and will be sowing beans and sweetpeas in amongst the hedging but it looked a little stark last year so need some more oomph I think.

    I think I will also put a couple of larger pots on the grass and just repair in the autumn. 

    (The flower beds I have put in the recess are the same level as the grass was so shouldn't cause a problem with any possible damp proofing and I split the beds with a gravel path so as not to potentially block the air brick with soil).

    Thank you for your help and sorry for the questions, I find it quite hard to see in my head what should happen!


  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    There are some lovely hebes you could put in your border but I think the quickest way to get colour in would be hardey geraniums and osteospermums.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,155

    If the landlord is nice and OK with garden making, but you don't want to dig up the lawn you will just have to do more interesting things around the edges, like planting mixed flowering shrubs eg spireas, abelia, weigela, exochorda "the Bride", deutzia, philadelphus. You could put annuals, grown from seeds or small plants between to provide colour. It depends what you want to spend and how long you will be there and if you want to dig them up when you move. Parkers have some quite cheap, or have a look in a garden centre.

    You could put up an arch with climbing plants and perhaps a seat under it on the far side. Perhaps, herbs, thyme rosemary, lavender on either side for scent. It all depends what the budget is.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Bunny ...Bunny ... Posts: 3,471
    How about some obelisks then grow sweet peas, climbers up for color and height. Cosmos in pots are great fillers and if you have fencing how about baskets and troughs on those .
  • discodavediscodave Posts: 510

    Thats a good idea bunny

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