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Idea's and suggestios for my front garden please

Hi everyone

We are going to be doing some work on our front garden. My husband and I are not experienced gardeners,  and would love some advice/suggestions. 

My husband wants to dig up the lawn, add more topsoil, then re-turf it, as the garden has sunk. As you wil see from my pics, I have a few potted plants, and some kind of bush in the garden (that the birds love). To the right of the garden, there is a public alleyway, and looks over into my garden. I am thinking about putting a fast growing hedge there such as laurel, just to make my garden a little more private from the alleyway.  Would Laurel be a good hedging plant and easy to care for?   

I would also love anybody to give us any suggestions on design if you could please.  The garden is an irregular shape and I am not great with ideas, and dont want to spend a fortune. 

Here are a few pics 








 We are considering removing the paving stones at the back (they will have to go if we do decide on the hedge), also considering moving the bush from the front garden. I would really love a cherry blossom tree. seen a young one for £40 locally.  Are they easy to look after? Also would love any suggestions on other easy to care for plants I could consider. Preferably wildlife friendly. Would just love some ideas on how to make it look nice and cared for please, your suggestions will be greatly appreciated image  






  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,312

    Hi Rebecca, laurel takes up a lot of space very quickly once it gets going and it has to be pruned rather than hedge-trimmered.

    I'm no good at garden design, image, I just grow plants. but I'm sure you'll get some suggestions.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • JontydoggleJontydoggle Posts: 31

    How about just putting a few brightly coloured trailing/ ground cover plants in around the edges of the lawn in a narrow border? Aubrietia, campanulas, phlox would all add pretty flowers and a break in the grey colour of the bricks.  

    Laurels are nt for the faint hearted - the ones in a house I rent out have to be hacked back by a foot in all directions twice a year.  You could instead put some pretty latticed trellis work upnagainst the alley wall andtrain something like a clematis Montana up against (hundreds of beautiful pink/white flowers), plus some other climbers that flower at different times of year.

  • quercus_ruburquercus_rubur Posts: 334

    Could we have a little more information please Rebecca? What aspect is it (N-S-E-W facing)? What type of soil have you got (Acid, alkiline, neutral)? 

    Make sure before you buy any tree or bush that you check what it's final size is going to be. This is where Latin names come into their own! Cherry trees for example vary enormously in height and width. I have a neighbour who at some point in the past obvioulsy went along to a garden centre and saw a few nice little trees. They now vary between 15 feet and 30 feet (height and width), nothing else grows and they block out the sun from surrounding neighbours gardens.

    Rather than a hedge - which you have to maintain a couple of times a year, why not grow a few small trees, or shrubs along the fence? This will also give you privacy and a mixutre will do more to attract wildlife. 

  • Rebecca64Rebecca64 Posts: 30

    thankyou very much for all your suggestions, I really do appreciate them image

    Im so glad to learn that laurel is not going to be suitable for us. We have been pricing them recently, and were very tempted. So glad I asked you now.

    Jontydoggie, I like the idea of a narrow border, but my hubby may need convincing. I forgot to mention that we have screening to cover those unsightly bricks, the same as the screening on the upper wall. Trellis would be a lovely Idea, however I would be worried how long it would last by the alleyway, I often have children/teens leaning against that wallimage  

    Quercus-rubur, I knew I would be asked the aspect, and I'm not sure image. I think its North Facing, but could well be wrong. Looking at my pics, the sun shines from the left in the morning, comes round to the right by the afternoon, then to the side of my house (right), and my back garden is a suntrap all afternoon until the sun goes down. Does this help? Thanks for the info on latin names, I would not have known that.  The last thing I want to do is plant trees, and regret it in a few years time.  

    I like your idea of planting small trees, and shrubs along the outside wall. (it's a wall, with screening on it), would you have some suggestions on trees'shrubs please? 

    thankyou all, I want to get this right, this time image

  • Why not visit a few gardens in your area, especially the Yellow book gardens which open for charity. These are usually private gardens and you will see lots to admire and adopt. Then sit down and discuss and list all those items you would like to include. From your pics. you don't have a large space and it might be a mistake to try to do too much. Less is more in such a situation. Think of a concept and work towards it. For example do you want colourful flowers or a green feel? Do you want a cottage garden look or a contemporary garden with hard surfaces. How about a Water feature as the centre piece. Only you can decide the answers to these sorts of questions. It's your garden to create and enjoy for many years to come. Take your time to think it will pay off. Good luck.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,023

    Rebecca- Amelanchier lamarkkii is a light airy shrub which can also be treated as a small tree and would suit your wall with climbers as well. It tolerates most aspects and gives autumn colour as well. Easy to buy too. If you w ant a border make it a decent one- narrow ones lack impact and limit what you can grow- and will be ultimately disappointing. I'd take out the whole corner where the shrub is growing in the grass and put a good selection of shrubs and perennials to give interest through the seasons and plant some bulbs for late winter/spring too. Group your pots together in one place- better if they're all similar colour or type too- as it gives more impact. Spreading them around isn't cohesive. If you have one big pot - use it for a specimen shrub somewhere you can get a good view of it. image

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • quercus_ruburquercus_rubur Posts: 334

    Rebecca, yes it does sound like it’s north facing, though if it’s like mine, the bottom of the garden – where your fence is – will be more south facing so will get some sun?

    I’d agree with Fairygirl about Amelanchier lamarkii. If ever the question of small trees comes up on Gardeners Question Time this is always recommended. And with Wonderboy about checking out the neighbourhood plants and the less is more point.

    I’d also add Virbunum bodnantes (Dawn, Deben or Charles Lamont). They all flower from Autumn through to Spring. Lamont doesn’t have the fragrance of the others but throughout the last 2 dire winters we’ve had, mine has flowered cheerily through snow, ice, wet and wind. Can be pruned to suit

    Cotinus coggrygria Grace would be my third choice. On a sunny day its translucent leaves stand out like a beacon. Can also be pruned to suit.

    I don’t normally like roses but one I have is Rosa glauca. It has lovely glaucus leaves and small delicate pink flowers. It also has rosehips in Autumn which the birds love. It grows like a small tree if left un-pruned

  • Rebecca64Rebecca64 Posts: 30

    Thanks everyone,. quercus, fairygirl & wonderboy for all your suggestions, and sorry I have taken so long to reply. 

    I have looked at the Amelanchier lamarkii, and really like it, also the virbunum bodnantes and some of the others suggested.  I have been looking at buying them from Crocus. The Amelanchier come in 2 sizes, but the smaller one which is in 7.5 litre  pot, is out of stock, but the 10Litre is available and will be delivered within 2 weeks if I order it, but it's 1.5m tree, and £47.99, without the 20% discount offer.  Do you think that is good value for money, and also do you think the size will be ok for where I want to put it, in the corner ?  I am clueless image, and I know you friendly bunch will have the answers for me. 

    My Lawn has been dug up today, and looks an absolute messimage.......but has to be done. Preparing for the topsoil now, then re-turfing it.  Could you also recommend any options to stop the masses of weeds from sprouting up again, if we havent had all of the roots up?  I would be ever so greatful, and thanks in advance........againimage

  • Call me old fashioned but I like to see what I am getting first hand, with my own eyes, if I may mix my body parts. This is particularly important with something as central to your new design as the main tree. Ordered unseen it could be any old shape. Don't worry about the size,it will grow. It is the shape which is most important. Does it look good to the eye? You will only know that by seeing it yourself and what's the point of saving £5 if you end up with something you don't like?  Go to a few garden centres and you will find something that you fall head over heals in love with.image, and can affordimage. Don't forget to think long term and make sure it has enough space. It may look a little lost to start with but it will grow into it's new home.

    As far as the lawn is concerned the weeds will now grow. LET THEM!!,  then you can clobber them with glysophate weed killer which should kill most of them for good, more or less, and this weedkiller leaves no residue in the soil.  Take your time and do this twice to be on the safe side. Then prepare the ground and re-turf. You cannot avoid getting some weeds, they are persistent little b****** but regular cutting and an annual weed and feed fertiliser should be sufficient.

    Remember that time spent in proper preparation now will pay off handsomely, whether it is the hole for your tree/shrubs or your lawn. Take your time, you have an age to regret your mistakes.image, and enjoy your successesimage

    Finally, gardening is meant to be enjoyed...Enjoy it together.imageimage

  • Rebecca64Rebecca64 Posts: 30

    thankyou wonderboy

    I understand what you mean about seeing things with our own eyes, I think your right, I will go to a garden centre next weekend. I just thought transporting them home would have been a hassle, but my hubby has just said he can borrow his works van image 

    We are hoping to have the topsoil this week, so I guess that wont leave enough time for the weeds to grow? We want it turfed ASAP.  Maybe with my new enthusiasm in the garden, I will regularly de-weed myself, every so often. 

    thanks for all your help and suggestionsimage I am likely to ask your advice again, im sure LOL 

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