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Best way forward

Help and ideas needed. We are redesiging our front garden. At present it has a narrow drive and a poor spongy lawn. The plan is to lift the lawn and make a large cottage garden flower bed and increase the parking space. The area that wont be bed will just be gravel for parking. What is the best thing to do to improve the soil structure before planting? Also what would be good vocal point plants to put in for cottage style? The overall bed size would be 3m x 6m with a 1m high privet at the back and at one side.


  • darren636darren636 Posts: 666

    Do you want shrubs as a backbone?

    If so , now is the time to get them in and plan the layout.

    Things like hydrangea mariesii perfecta, viburnum bodnantense, Daphnia , lylac - proper structure with great smell and flowers, through which you can have clematis and roses.

    I assume the lawn area is compacted and in need of turning over down to a spades depth, adding some compost to revitalise the soil.
  • darren636darren636 Posts: 666
    Once you've decided on the backbone, spaced it all out so that they have room to expand and show themselves off, you then have plenty of bare soil to fill with herbaceous plants- I've been heavily herbaceous in the past, but once they all die down for winter, youre left with nothing to look at , but there's nothing better than the first buds poking through the soil in spring.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,742

    Is it shady Richard? The spongy lawn would suggest that. Can you give us an idea of the aspect so that we can take that into account when making suggestions. Many cottage garden plants like a good bit of sun so you might need a combination of plants there.

    Some structure, as Darren suggests, is a good idea so that you don't just have a blank space in winter. With any deciduous planting, you can put spring bulbs in as well, to prolong the picture  image

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Its north facing, but gets full sun from early afternoon until about 7/8pm at night. Will try and add a picture of the current layout

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Spongy lawn means poor drainage Richard. Although the shrubs will cope with that, many of the cottage garden plants won't. Most prefer sun and reasonable drainage. Adding grit and lots of it, plus well rotted manure will help. You'll have to pick carefully as there'll be little sun in winter so drainage will very important. Wet conditions kill long before any light restrictions.

  • TootlesTootles Posts: 1,469

    I agree with Dave. Plenty of grit. Take time to turn the soil too.

    If you have a library near by, or maybe look on the Internet for a second hand one, Geoff Hamiltons "Cottage Gardens" is great. Explains all about the evolution of them and lots of planting ideas and tips. Good pages where he shows examples with a numbered picture to name the salient plants. 





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