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Where to start! Planning new borders, complete garden novice.

OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

We have just created 4 raised borders in our garden (raised due to the slope we live on). I now have the challange of creating a scheme for them all and I have no idea where to start. They are south east facing, each one is 2.4m wide and 1 metre deep, edged with sleepers and we are on a chalky soil. I want to plant a mix of thyme and lavander and maybe something else along the lawn in from of them to soften the harsh edges and I want the borders to look like one long display, not 4 boxes but I really have no idea how to plan them? Any tips? Thanks


  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    Forgot to add, what is the best soil/compost to fill them with? They currently are about half full with the soil that was there but we need to top them up with something else, do we go for topsoil, compost, rotted manure?


  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    Lavenders and herbs don't like rich wet soil so it all depends what you are going to end up planting.

    It sounds to me like you know your stuff by your knowledge of aspect and aesthetics and also have a reasonably good idea about what you want.

    I always figure out what I want by knowing what I don't want. That helps me, in your case, apart from being given a bunch of plant names to consider, it's really a personal choice at the end of the day and gardening is never about a one time solution, unless you hire a designer who will do all the research for you, lay garden fabric and sterilise your outdoor space like the cover of a glossy magazine.

    There is bound to be mistakes made in your planting scheme, things that don't grow as expected despite what the label says or just don't work in situ but if you start with basic building blocks, you can plant off these and eventually fill in the gaps as you see things grow and take shape.

    Personally, I do this in my own gappy garden, using anchor points of evergreen and structure which I then plant off of, building over many seasons, what I couldn't have known at the beginning, but ends up exactly how I like it.image

  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    Thanks very much for replying image

    This is probably a really stupid question! but, do I look at how much a plant should spread and then leave that amount of space around it when I plant it? Am I expected it too look very gappy until stuff establishes or do I fill in the spaces and then move stuff as they grow?

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  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,005

    Wintersong is right- make a list of what you really don't like first. Decide what colours you would like  and then whether you want a 'summery' garden-ie more floral- for being out in rather than looking at from indoors, or whether it needs evergreen structure as it's viewed from the house, or whether you'd like wildlife interest or Autumn colour. A combination is often desirable. Have a look in magazines or books if you're unsure of the look you want. Don't forget a bit of height- it's always a mistake if everything is too similar. Then there's whether you want to spend a lot of time on maintenance- shrubs and evergreens can cut down on that. Repeating plants gives continuity without every bed looking identical- unless that's the look you want.

    When you initially plant you can always add veg or annuals in gaps till plants mature.

    And you can always take plants out if they don't work!

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    Thanks very much guys image that's given me somewhere to start! Excited but nervous! Wish me luck lol

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,005

    Good luck Olive- always exciting starting a new project!

    I know it's tempting to dive right in but it pays to take a little time to really work out what you want.image

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    Also avoid any plants which require acid conditions as you are on chalk.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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