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Where do I start???

Hi. I was hoping I could get some help and advice. Below is a picture of my garden. You can probably tell that I don't spend a lot of time in it for obvious reasons. And in all honesty. I am not really sure what to do. The last chap who owned the house left us with a mess. The majority of the garden is covered in gravel with some strange grave in the middle which I think is supposed to be a raised bed. The paving is pretty much the grand sum of what we have done to the garden although it's not yet fixed as I didn't want to commit to it but at least it gives the little one a platform to roll around on. 

We will be painting our fence and shed in the green colour you see on one side of the shed. A part of me would like to level the bottom tier of the garden, cover it in woodchip and then build up a network of raised beds with a container garden at the top. 

Either way. we are not rolling in £££ and are looking for a cost effective DIY way to sort out our outdoor space. It actually feels bigger than what you see in the photo which I guess is a bonus. 

Any thoughts and ideas? (veg is our preferred thing to grow)

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  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,905

    Question 1 - which way does it face?

    Question 2 - what is the soil like?

    Question 3 - how much time do you have to spend growing your veg when you get to that bit - an hour a week? An hour a day?

    Raised beds are a very good idea for veg growing. What's under the gravel on the lower level? Soil? Or concrete?

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • Matt88Matt88 Posts: 5

    Hi Rasingirl.

    Thanks for your reply.

    My answers are:

    Question 1 - which way does it face?

    South Facing

    Question 2 - what is the soil like?

    Luckily the soil is really good and when we have grown things straight out of the ground its been really successful

    Question 3 - how much time do you have to spend growing your veg when you get to that bit - an hour a week? An hour a day?

    A few hours a week + time on the weekends

    Raised beds are a very good idea for veg growing. What's under the gravel on the lower level? Soil? Or concrete?

    Soil on the lower level straight under the gravel. 

  • Garden noobGarden noob Posts: 260

    Another question: who's going to use the garden and how are they going to use it? E.g. if you have children/grandchildren you may want to have some lawn. I like the idea of a pond in the far corner if children won't use the garden. I spot a BBQ - do you want space to sit down? Do you invite many people over? Personally I love a decent patch of lawn to host 20-30 people for a BBQ. I think lawn also has a wider appeal if you expect to sell the house anytime soon. (Can you tell I'm a fan of lawn? image)

    Raised beds sound great but, if you're on a budget, think this through. My bed cost about £250 to fill with topsoil, compost and manure, and 18 months later it still needs top ups as it's settling over time. If you can get free topsoil from Gumtree you can save money, but then you don't know what you're introducing - and it could be poor quality soil. I thought I may be able to get free soil conditioner from the council but they never had any.

    image

  • BLTBLT Posts: 525

    I have raised beds too and yes the filling has settled but I forked it over and raked it level it looks ok.. The man put in gravel beds because he probably was elderly and did not want to be mowing the grass, also I have a small gravelled area that I put large pots on it as it  helps with drainage..

    Ponds are not good where little children are concerned as they tend to 'Fall in, throw toys in etc and any fish life will be unimpressed.. 

    Small children do love a sand pit and you canbuy the plastic sea shell types fromplaces like argos.. the seashell type means you can cover it when not in use to avoid local moggies from viewing it at a large kitty litter box.. They also like Wendy houses.. I think I'd keep the chidrem in the paved area but ifclimbing apparatus might be installed you need to think about a child safety surface to keep them safe..   Good luck..

  • Hello! First, if you haven't done it already, measure your entire garden noting down each measurement taken. If you haven't got one, from Amazon say, buy a 'Scale Rule'. It's a ruler that architects and designers use to measure out and draw your plan to scale, i.e. 1:20 or 1:50 etc. Pencil and rubber needed.

    With the appropriate size paper, a Layout A2 pad is useful (again from Amazon) draw up your garden to scale. Tracing paper can be useful too.

    The Sun.... where is it, and what time of day? Put the compass points on your plan as accurately as possible.

    Then decide what type of garden you want, where do you want to sit, what do you need in your garden, etc and draw these to scale also - including any furniture's measurements or features.

    Once you have done this you will, if you're like any designer, begin to see what will or won't work for you because it's all to scale. You can then begin to amend your plan. Cheap quick and easy to do at this stage because it doesn't involve buying landscaping materials or plants. Amend amend amend until you are finally totally satisfied!!!

    Then, with your finished plan, you can, if necessary, obtain quotes. Or you can work out how much materials you will need to purchase. You can also do a planting plan and work out what plant and where, taking into account soil conditions and light levels.

    Good luck!

    Clare...  BA Hons 3 Dimensional Designer

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,992

    Its difficult to tell from the photo but does the garden slope to the right and to the bottom right hand corner?

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,905

    If you have decent topsoil under the gravel and you need to level the garden, you can save money on filling raised beds by keeping top soil that you take off the high bits to make it flat and then using that to fill the raised beds, with the addition of some compost or manure if you're growing veg. The trick is to not make them too high - mine are only one scaffold board (about 9 inches) deep and they work fine for veg. There's no hardcore or drainage at the bottom. Essentially they are a slightly elevated bit of ground that most raised bed aficionados wouldn't recognise as one. But because the edges are there, the beds don't get walked on at all and are regularly dug over and fed - the process of growing veg in rotation does that. Over a few years the improvement in soil structure has been noticeable from the 'native' soil around.

    When I had a bit of money, I just added a row of scaffold boards on top and then filled up to the top with imported top soil one bed at a time.

    How about a small patio fruit garden with some fruit trees and bushes in pots and strawberries in hanging baskets at one end of the lower space with some small raised beds for growing veg at the other? Have a look at 'square foot gardening' if that might work for you - keep the raised beds small and it'll cost much less to keep them full and take less time to get them looking productive. I think it's better to start small and then extend them if you run out of space, rather then start big and then find it becomes a chore to keep them usefully productive (voice of experience here image)

    If the photo is taken looking south you maybe could move the shed so it's not shading your garden and so you can get a little lean-to greenhouse or grow house or cold frames along the sunny side of it - you'll find it helps enormously to have a covered place to start off seeds for growing veg.

    Last edited: 17 March 2017 16:34:19

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • Susan683Susan683 Posts: 7
    Hours go by says:

    Hello! First, if you haven't done it already, measure your entire garden noting down each measurement taken. If you haven't got one, from Amazon say, buy a 'Scale Rule'. It's a ruler that architects and designers use to measure out and draw your plan to scale, i.e. 1:20 or 1:50 etc. Pencil and rubber needed.

    With the appropriate size paper, a Layout A2 pad is useful (again from Amazon) draw up your garden to scale. Tracing paper can be useful too.

    The Sun.... where is it, and what time of day? Put the compass points on your plan as accurately as possible.

    Then decide what type of garden you want, where do you want to sit, what do you need in your garden, etc and draw these to scale also - including any furniture's measurements or features.

    Once you have done this you will, if you're like any designer, begin to see what will or won't work for you because it's all to scale. You can then begin to amend your plan. Cheap quick and easy to do at this stage because it doesn't involve buying landscaping materials or plants. Amend amend amend until you are finally totally satisfied!!!

    Then, with your finished plan, you can, if necessary, obtain quotes. Or you can work out how much materials you will need to purchase. You can also do a planting plan and work out what plant and where, taking into account soil conditions and light levels.

    Good luck!

    Clare...  BA Hons 3 Dimensional Designer

    See original post

     

  • Susan683Susan683 Posts: 7

    Thank you that was really helpful advice I will do that next as at the moment my design is all scribbles on bits of paper 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,050

    Susan - just be aware that drawing to scale isn't as easy at it might seem. You have to triangulate and you need a proper full sized tape measure for a start, and levels can easily be misudged.  Use photos as well as measuring as carefully as you can, but bear in mind that gardens aren't  regular, even if they look like they are!  

    Take your time and mark specific areas that you already have in place, and work from those. It's also good to make a list of things you don't like first - that rules out a lot of stuff right away. It's then a bit easier to note what you like, and want to achieve. Bit at a time image

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


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