please help make this border better!

Earlier in the year, we removed a large pond and laid turf over it. The area to one side of the pond, which flanked some hedging, was a little-used pathway which had been gravelled at some point. 

In a hurry, we tried to remove as much of the gravel as possible, and planted a few plants in this area, to make a shallow border against the hedge. We moved a few established plants into there which were made homeless from the pond removal (euonymous, some lavender, a bottle brush plant, a couple of other things). Desperate to cover a bit of ground in the short term, I planted a few hollyhocks, a rose, a cystius, and a couple of smaller things (geum, aquilegia, gaura.)

Frankly, nothing is doing particularly well, and it looks a bit awful (even allowing for the fact that most of the plants aren't mature yet). It doesn't help that the pigeons seem to see this area as a snack bar :(


Can anyone make some suggestions on what I could plant here to improve it? I don't mind moving any / all of the smaller plants if I need to, to other areas of the garden.  The ground there is really hard and compacted, even after my efforts to dig it over, and I guess I'll need to take most things out anyway and dig it over again / improve the soil before 

Position wise, it's sheltered by the hedge and a yew overhead, but gets decent sun for most of the afternoon as it's south west facing. The soil (if it wasn't so compacted) is fairly good and on the dry side, although in this area of the garden it does have the occasional clay pocket and some acidity too.

All suggestions for how to create a lovely thick border that will flourish here gratefully received! First thoughts were perhaps a low lavender hedge to butt up against the higher hedging behind, with drifts of alliums in it to give height? But I am a genuine novice so no ideas really! 

Thank you - this area is making me feel so gloomy so help urgently required!


  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 850

    To improve the soil, could you perhaps remove all the plants, dig over the soil to loosen it, add compost/topsoil/grit, then replace the plants? Maybe not the best time of year to do it, maybe worth waiting until next spring which will give you time to decide which new plants you want.

  • Thanks LeadFarmer - that's probably what I will do, I just need some help now to figure out a planting plan which will work :)

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,448

    The soil under those trees and near the hedge will get very dry very quickly and also be nutrient poor so it needs a good sort out but it's best done in the autumn unless you are really impatient and willing to risk losing a few plants by starting now.   I think it could also be made wider so that when it is growing well it won't look squished up against the hedge and unbalanced.

    Water well then remove the plants and pot them up in good quality potting compost.  Keep them watered and out of full sun till they settle down.   Fork over the soil to loosen it up and then pile on a generous few inches of well rotted garden compost and leave it for the worms to work in over winter.    If necessary, buy cheap compost at the end of the season when it'll be on sale to make space for Xmas displays.

    You can plant bulbs at this point but use a cane to mark the spot.  You can then replant your stuff saved in pots, adding some pelleted chicken manure to help improve fertility.   Water them in well.

    Make sure plants like lavender and cistus are in full sun and well drained.  They don't like damp or wet roots.   Most roses like full sun and so do hollyhocks so choose plants that do well in partial shade.  Quite  a few of the hardy geraniums will like it there and then there are foxgloves, some forms of persicaria (affinis would make great ground cover), hardy ferns, primulas, phlox, hellebores and so on.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks Obelixx, that's really helpful :) I'd like to spend the summer planning the planting, and then can get to it in early autumn to fix things up. 

    Most of the plants can be rehomed - I'd probably leave the euonymous and bottle brush to the right as they are doing ok at the moment and the soil is better there anyway. I'd hope to be able to leave the rose in place too if possible, but I guess that might not be possible? If so, I'll find a new home for it so it's not in a pot over winter (I am awful at keeping things live in pots!)

    Last edited: 26 June 2016 14:03:48

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