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Front Garden Borders -a blank canvas


I have just moved from a flat with no garden to a house with a big front and back garden and I am suddenly feeling slightly overwhelmed

I thought I would start at the front as it has been nice at some point and has a relatively well defined border. So far I have managed to strim the grass (need a 2nd pass) and clear out most of the borders which were completely overgrown in weeds and grass. I've attached a couple of pics. I have a few questions:

1. At this time of year am I best to just keep everything tidy ready to be developed next year, or can I start planting things now?

2. What is that grass with the big orange flowers? Should I keep them or rip them out?

3. How do I find out what type of soil I have?

4. One of the borders is mostly roses, is there a "roses for dummies"book I should read? I have been dead heading them over the past couple of weeks, no idea if that's right or not.

Any help will be greatly received, many thanks in advance.






  • B3B3 Posts: 27,017
    Get a length of hose or similar and use it to see what shape you would like the lawn to be. You can see if you like sinuous shapes or straight edges. Whatever you decide, you will need bigger flower beds. The plants look like red hot pokers. Kniphofea(can't spell it!)
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Yes the grass had totally grown over into the borders, I have got rid of the worst of it, so do I just have to re-edge to make borders wider?

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,157

    You can lift our turves with a spade to make the borders wider, but B3's plan of marking out with a hose pipe is a good one, or you can use a bottle of sand.

    It rather depends what you want to plant. Plants grown in pots and sold in garden centres can be planted any time. If you want bulbs it is almost daffodil planting time, tulips in November. Then plant perennials in between. Pansies and violas should be in garden centres now or soon. Good for edging.

    The orange flower is red hot poker or Kniphofia.

    I think your soil could be on the acid side as it looks as though there are azaleas and rhododendrons, but you can buy a soil testing kit in a garden centre. Make sure you use demineralised water for accurate readings.

    Dead heading is right. They will need proper pruning in March, you can look it up on Google. But gardening books are good to read in winter.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,157

    I think a lawnmower would be a good investment, rather than a strimmer, if funds can run to it.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • TootlesTootles Posts: 1,469

    I agree with B3 about those being red hot pokers. You can plants lots of different types of bulbs right now for colour in the autumn. I'd suggest planting in clumps rather than scattering them about.  Is there a garden centre near by? Failing that a Wilkos or Mossisons? They all have the seasonal bulbs in stock at the moment.

     If I were you I'd dig over your borders and add some rotted manure to get them going. Do lots of reading and research about the plants and colours you like. Ask yourself questions like do you want plants that come year after year, or would you rather plant annuals every year? Think about heights. Do you want any climbers? Do you want scent? Do you like certain colour combinations? Do you like structure? Do you like the movement of ornamental grass? 

    Have a walk about and see what does well in gardens near by. 

    Test your soil to see what you have. You can get little kits for a couple of pounds at garden centres.

    I planted two borders up at my new house three years ago. I wish I'd taken a step back like you are doing. I just bought everything I liked and plonked it in without proper thought. They're a bit of a mess now, so I'll be digging it all out in autum and re-arranging / re-newIng. Autumn is a good time to plant as it is when a lot of things a dormant. 

    Good luck with it. What a great project! Keep us posted.

  • Thanks for all the tips everyone, lots to consider. A lawnmower is def on the agenda but grass was knee height when we moved in so strimmed a few times to get to a more manageable length. The back garden was over waist height so have just been strumming that which has been tough going, almost time for a mower for sure!

    I'm lucky enough to have a good garden centre about a 5 min drive away, and live opposite nice public gardens so have plenty of inspiration image

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