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Help for busy garden


Hello, thanks for any help. We've had this garden for 2 years, and it's busy with permanent structures and raised vegetable beds and ground planted raspberries, all of which I don't want to move. We also have shrubs and perennials in the ground in front of the hens, and fruit trees and bushes in pots. There isn't a patio, just a path from door to back gate.

The garden is south facing with high fences and shallow soil. 

Can anyone guide me how to arrange the mid garden planting, and where to put paths, as I can only figure out straight lines to get to each highly used section, but would love curves and flow. I'll be doing all the work myself, and for now the paths will be the current lawn, though long term I'd like woodchip which I can get free, or gravel. I have about 5 hours a week to dedicate to the garden, and limited cash flow, but I already own most of the plants I want (but can't confidently name them). All the things bordering the garden really need to stay there, but the planting in the middle I'm happy to shift around, hence the loose bits of paper! 

Thanks for your input.  I just subscribed to the magazine and am looking forward to creating a beautiful family garden. 



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    I think the simplest thing would be to try drawing a circle in the middle or an oval if you prefer.   Make that your lawn area with gravel or bark paths all round to achieve a curvy look.    

    You can also shuffle the circle or oval up, down and to the side for asymmetry and a wider bed for your bamboo, aster and aquilegia bed so that you can add other plants to increase the seasonal interest.  If you don't already have grass, you can get the prep done over the next few moths and then sow a new lawn quite cheaply in April when soil temps and rain levels are conducive to good germination.

    You can add arches to paths leading from one area to another to add height and another growing dimension.  It doesn't have to be done all at once and could evolve as time and budget allow.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    From what you have said, I think that all the middle area is in grass currently? 

    You have a lot going on in your garden. I would as the OP has said, mark out a circle in the middle of that area, edge it with pavers to give it a crisp edge, then leave it grassed. The rest of the grass I would lift and put down gravel. Perhaps put a circle of lavender round the circle of grass. Think about putting a small tree somewhere in the grassed circle to the right and back to break up the view of the shed and chickens.

    Once the children have grown up and don't need the sandpit and playhouse, use that area for flowers. . 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Thank you. I love the circle/oval grass idea (yes it's lawn right now) and perhaps planting one or both of the pear trees towards the back right of the area. I thought a statement bench in that area for the eye to rest on, before the shed. I hope some shrubs will grow tall and disguise the shed eventually. 

    Near the house, how do I plant this area? This is my first ever garden; making such a big change to not be grass straight off the path is daunting.  I'm guessing not too much height, mature lavender is what, 60cm? And how can I introduce a curve at the bottom left, so the path from the house to the chicken door (also on the left) is less regimented, also being aware of the raised vegetable beds along the left fence... They've moved around, and are now in the most productive position they can be, but are dead straight! It's tricky to balance access with flow and beauty. :/ 

    Last edited: 29 December 2016 21:34:33

  • Here is what I'm currently working with. The raised beds used to be in front of the hens, but they didn't get enough light, and we would trip on them. @_@

    image image

  • You could help make the veg beds look less regimented by the way you plant them. If you put some low bushy herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage at the front they will grow over the edge and soften the line. Chives also make a nice edger and you could add a few pot marigolds (edible flowers and good for pollinators)  for some more colour in summer. 

    You can choose decorartive forms of veg, such as coloured chard or purple podded peas or beans and  beans with different coloured flowers. You don't have to grow everything in dead straight lines, and not all veg need a strict rotation, so you can weave those like lettuce and chard  and courgettes in amongst the other things for a more decorative look - think cottage garden rather than allotment.

    If you make the path wide enough you could have room for one or two pots at strategic points to make something to attract tne eye and break up the straightness and you could grow either flowers or dwarf shrubs like hebes or blueberries or even patio apple trees in them.

    Lavenders vary in height depending on variety so do a little research first to find one that fits what you need.

  • Buttercupdays, I love your suggestions to help with the raised beds! It'll be tricky as they're netted to keep the hens out, but I'm pretty resourceful and will figure it out. I love rosemary and that'd be awesome year round. I have 2 blueberry and 2 pears in pots already, so can play with placing them when a path is set. 

    I still could do with a lot of advice on how to start the front, from the access path next to the house (just seen ) up into a circle/oval.

    How do I shape the area with plants?

    Where should the path start, and then go? 

    Then how to fill the gap by the autumn raspberry canes next to the fence? 

    I don't suppose there are any budding designers who could draw a sketch for me? :)

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    Draw out your circle with sand - fill an old bottle and tie it's neck to a string pegged to a central point then use the string as a radius guide and walk all round pouring sand.   Use that line as your cutting edge to make a boundary that will hold the grass in and path material out.   

    Mark out a boundary for your ornamental bed on the right.

    Cover the grass and soil outside the circle and beds with weed proof membrane and pour on your chipped bark.  Voilà!  Paths and pot standing spaces done.   Easy to cut into it later to plant a tree or erect a pergola.obelisk/arch for climbers.

    Like I said earlier, draw it on paper first to make sure a circle will do the job and if not, go for the oval or two smaller, overlapping circles to give different curves.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks, Obelixx, you're a star. 

  • OK, still struggling.  Here's what I've been doing, and a picture of the back door area.  There's a manhole cover on the grass near the pots. 


    First circle too far back, leaves no room for planting on left and right if I go bigger. I was incapable of making an oval shape, so made 2 circles. 


    So the shape to be left lawn, and the rest free to plant and have paths, that right? 

    View from outside kitchen window.


    I'm going to sell that huge picnic bench for something airy.  

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    The double circle works for me.  Leave the hosepipe in place a few days or a week or two of poss and it will make a natural mark in the grass for you to cut too.   You'll also have time to look at it from every angle - upstairs, downstairs and outside - so you can do tweaks till your'e happy.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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